How to help employees sharpen their cognitive skills for an increasingly fast-paced workforce

Developing your cognitive skills is now considered as vital as the early morning workout if you want to get ahead in the future world of work.


Many people are dedicated to training their bodies daily to get them match fit, but it is just as important to train your brain, especially when operating in today’s workforce which is becoming increasingly fast-paced.


Whether it’s suggesting to staff a morning crossword, a daily brain teaser, or an attempt at the Wordle craze, encouraging regular use of cognitive skills is the best way to keep those skills sharp and ultimately, help your team to stand out in today’s highly-competitive workforce.


Especially post-Covid, we’re seeing that more and more employers and their employees are realising that they need to regularly sharpen their mental skills to maximise attention, prioritisation, adaptability, empathy, creativity, critical thinking and memory.


At Go1, we’re currently seeing a big uptake on courses in cognitive skills development in particular, and an increasing interest in access to training on mindful listening, critical thinking and problem-solving. We need all of these skills to assess, perceive, process and act in various situations to process new information so we can carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex.


In a recent survey of 18,000 people across 15 countries, McKinsey identified cognitive skills as one of four ‘distinct elements of talent’ (DELTAs) that will be vital to the future of work.


McKinsey offers further insights into the specific cognitive skills that employees will need in the future world of work via a survey of more than 18,000 people. Those with excellent adaptability skills are 24% more likely to be employed and this cognitive skill was the highest indicator of employability. Overall, respondents with high proficiency across all cognitive skills were 30% more likely to earn a high income. 


Cognitive skills are the backbone of any high-functioning team and can manifest in many ways at work. From quickly interpreting and analysing data to paying attention and retaining information during meetings.


The survey also found that many of these skills correlate highly with employability, job satisfaction, and even income. For example, people with high proficiency in understanding biases are 10% more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. Similarly, those with high proficiency in work-plan developments are 27% more likely to earn a top-quintile income, making this DELTA the top indicator of a high income.


Three simple starter steps to developing your cognitive skills


Firstly, reduce stress and take care of your body. A clear, calm mind and a healthy body provides the best chances of developing your cognitive skills. So, focus on getting a good night’s sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and consider practising meditation to relive stress.


Secondly, practice makes perfect. If you want to improve your focus, actively practise focussing throughout the day. Try timing how long you can focus on a task before getting distracted. Then, set achievable goals to help slowly increase this number and thus, improve your focus. The same theory applies to other cognitive skills such as memory and problem-solving.


Finally, actively train your brain. Like any other muscle, your brain needs regular exercise. Training your brain to expand your cognitive skills can take several forms such as reading frequently, solving puzzle games, or even downloading a dedicated brain-training app.






Marc Havercroft is the President of Go1 - the world’s most popular corporate e-learning solution. Marc is an expert on digital transformation, with a specific expertise for future workforce strategy and design.

Prior to joining Go1, Marc was the Global Chief Customer Officer at SAP SuccessFactors. Marc has won various industry awards for innovation and commercial results. He serves on various advisory boards from disruptive start-ups, commercial hi-tech, to industry and government boards.

Marc is a regular speaker at events, round tables and in media, covering the future of technology and its impact on commerce, the individual and all things in-between.

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