Assessing for the Future: Building a Digital- and Cyber-Ready Workforce

October 1, 2019 John McLaughlin

It’s hard to be too cyber-wary these days. A recent data breach at Capital One is merely the latest reminder that companies have to be deeply invested in cybersecurity. But even with real vigilance, the question remains: How can you identify risk factors in employees and candidates?

Here’s one answer that may surprise you: talent assessments. Assessing for digital readiness is key to creating a risk-free, cyber-secure workforce with innate technological talents. Curating a digital-ready workforce will prevent intentional and accidental data breaches from occurring, which will protect you — and your clients.

Here are three ways that digital competency can protect your assets and create the workforce of the future.

Prioritize Employee Behavior

Not everyone realizes this, but the biggest risk in cybersecurity comes down to personal behavior. One of the biggest cyberthreats to any organization is an unwary person clicking on a link in an email. That can happen to anyone. In fact, reports show that, in 2018, 53 percent of cyber-security professionals experienced an insider-related attack at their organizations.

We can insulate with firewalls and other security processes, but digital safety ultimately comes down to behaviors, so it’s critical to assess for risk factors in your workforce. We can measure for those behaviors that lead to risk, and help you arrange preventive steps and interventions. Identifying candidates who are digitally literate is essential for managing risk in your workforce.

Measure the Soft Skills of Digital Readiness

We place a lot of emphasis on hard skills these days, but consider how frequently technology changes. Necessary skill-sets are shifting rapidly — in fact, most skills only have a half-life of five years. Because requirements for hard skills in digital readiness change constantly, they ultimately are not the best measure of talent and ability — or digital readiness.

Measuring candidates’ soft skills, on the other hand, can tell you much more about their predisposition to digital literacy. Soft skills are a sign of a candidate’s agility, flexibility and digital nimbleness. These qualities are far better predictors of digital readiness and competence than hard skills are. When we look at someone's ability to change and adapt, that ultimately comes down to behavior. And ultimately, behavior predicts ability and digital competence.

Assess for Cyber-Specific Roles

You can leverage assessments not just to manage risk but also to drive talent. Some candidates demonstrate more natural proclivities toward cyberskills than others do. Cyber-roles can be quite difficult to fill, but assessments can identify the best candidates for your organization. And don’t forget that talent assessments can apply in-house as well. With such a scarcity of cyber-readiness, consider [tapping into your internal talent pool] assessing your internal talent.

Utilize talent assessments to drive diversity and reach out to the overlooked at your organization. Take advantage of the opportunity to recruit talent from diverse backgrounds. Leverage talent assessments to identify the boldest and brightest candidates among your crew for cyber-roles. If you have good talent in-house that is digitally ready, can learn new skills and can adapt to new roles, why not recruit from within your own ranks?

If you are interested in learning more about digital readiness, have a look at this white paper.

About the Author

John McLaughlin

John has worked for Aon’s Assessment Solutions for 10 years in a variety of roles and geographies across Europe, South America, and North America. This in-market experience combined with his current role as the global commercial director for the group leads to an in-depth knowledge of global trends impacting talent strategies across all organizations.

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