Archive for work skills

Making the most of work and family life

The skills learnt by parents as they raise their children – everything from refereeing a fight between two four year olds (conflict resolution) to answering the phone, ironing a shirt and bathing the baby at the same time (multitasking) can help boost work performance and life satisfaction.

In an article with Human Capital Magazine earlier this year, Director of Parent Wellbeing, Jodie Benveniste, says that when it comes to work/life balance, we’ve got our thinking wrong. 

“Work-family balance assumes a scarcity model. It proposes that people have a fixed and limited amount of time and energy.  If work is taking all that time and energy, then family life suffers or vice-versa. But the relationship between work and family is much more dynamic than that.”

Benveniste argues that the concept of work-family balance should be replaced with ‘Work Family Flow’. Instead of working parents trying to ‘balance’ work and family, they should try to optimise work and family.  In other words, make the most of work and family.

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Join the conversation

Hello world and welcome to my new blog, Skilling Time.

The term ‘skills shortage’ has dominated Australia’s business landscape for a number of years.  But what does it mean for Australia during an economic downturn?  While the economic conditions may mean some companies place skills development on the backburner, once the economy recovers, the age-old issues of skills shortages will return.

A skills shortage, in plain and simple terms, means that businesses are struggling to fill vacancies.  Despite the current economic crisis, skills shortages are occurring across Australia’s economy – both in the trades and the professions.  We simply don’t have enough architects, plumbers, engineers, nurses, computer programmers, teachers and electricians to go around.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations notes that the occupations showing the biggest increase in vacancies are medical and science technical officers (including radiologists, hospital pharmacists, sonographers and dental technicians), organisation and information professionals (such as project managers and specialists in Java, Internet Security and PeopleSoft) and accountants and auditors. But almost every industry is affected in some way, particularly in regional areas.

According to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Survey of Investor Confidence, skills shortages are the number one constraint on small and medium business investment.

In knowledge economies such as Australia, where skills are fundamental to competitiveness, skills shortages can reduce productivity and increase inflation.  As the pool of available workers dries up, salaries skyrocket and so do the prices of the associated products and services.

So, what’s the solution?  Over the next few months, Skilling Time will explore ideas and options to secure Australia’s talent base.  And I invite you to join the conversation.

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Time to update your skills

YouTube has a great video – one of my favourites – of the world’s first IT help desk professional.  It’s a timely reminder of why we all need to update our skills!

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Gamers the CEOs of the future?

And following on from yesterday, to draw another parallel between World of Warcraft and the real world of business, both are experiencing skills shortages.

On the World of Warcraft site, for example, a ‘recruitment’ discussion board – the World of Warcraft’s equivalent of Seek.com.au – has thousands of requests for skilled players, and equally players looking to join new guilds.

For example, one post reads:

No Sleep for the Weary is a night guild on a Central time RP-PVP server. In general we are a laid back guild, but are looking to get a few more healers into our more serious raiding corp, as this is the only thing holding us back from success. We would like people who, while not extraordinarily hardcore, will be solid raiding attendees. Raid times are 3-4 nights a week from midnight to 4am Central (10 PM – 2 AM Pacific).

To be successful in WoW, players need to know how to find the right people with the right skills for their guild.  Guild leaders need to be experts in those ’soft skills’ of people management, with the ability to motive and inspire, ensure productivity and deal with conflict.

And of course, leaders need to find ways to overcome the complications of bringing a large group of diverse people together to achieve a common goal.

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Business lessons from World of Warcraft

The stereotypical online gamer is a greasy-haired, pimply, overweight teenager with no social skills and too much time on his hands, right?

Wrong.

Statistics from the US Entertainment Software Association (ESA) suggest that the average gamer is 33 and more likely to be learning vital business skills than wasting time.

In World of Warcraft, for instance, thousands of players adventure together in an enormous virtual world, forming friendships, slaying monsters and engaging in epic quests that can span days or weeks. At last count, 9.3 million people were playing the game.

An IBM study, conducted in conjunction with MIT, Stanford and software start-up Seriosity, found that multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest can help the next generation of workers become better corporate leaders as work becomes more collaborative and virtual in nature.

The study suggests that hours spent playing online can hone abilities to effectively collaborate, self-organise, take calculated risks, influence and communicate – skills that are not generally taught in universities or workplace training programs.

But do online games really provide insight into the future of our organisations as our leaders communicate with workers across a ‘virtual environment’ that spans many countries, cultures languages and time zones?

The impressive organisational skills needed to run a World of Warcraft guild, organise raids involving as many as 40 people and co-ordinate their different abilities to defeat a game’s strongest foes are all relevant to work.

Some of the lessons that gamers learn include the ability to make decisions rapidly, analyse and use data from varied sources and recognise people for their contributions – are all valuable assets in the workplace.  Perhaps even more so is the ability to assemble and motivate a group of individuals – many whom are volunteers – to make rapid decisions and act effectively under uncertain conditions.

What do you think?

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