ORGANIZATIONS THAT PLACE
A RENEWED FOCUS ON THE
DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR EXISTING
WORKFORCE AS AN INTEGRAL
PART OF THEIR HUMAN CAPITAL
STRATEGY WILL COME OUT ON TOP.
This approach should be balanced with a targeted upskilling strategy
to differentiate the experience for specific groups of people and to
develop pockets of proficiencies. An example is helping employees in
reporting roles to improve how they use data to tell compelling stories.
Finally, every organization has individuals who create, protect
or enable the greatest proportion of value. Investing in the
critical few by providing tailored upskilling opportunities is the
third approach and includes “influencers” who can help champion
upskilling and continuous learning.
4. EMPOWER PEOPLE TO EMBRACE UPSKILLING
Employees who are provided with clear communication, sufficient
information (e.g. overarching business goals, the skills needed for
future success and the value of upskilling activities to organizational
objectives) and appropriate supports are more likely to take
ownership over their individual learning and growth activities.
Managers can help guide employee learning by communicating
how their work is likely to shift in the future and the skills
needed to be successful, and by supporting employees to curate
their upskilling experiences and build their own training plan.
To that end, organizations also need to empower their people
managers to become learning champions so they can proactively
model and guide their teams along upskilling paths and provide
ongoing feedback to support their progress.
Investing in digital and social learning tools can significantly
enhance an organization’s upskilling strategy, providing a more
personal model anywhere and everywhere.
TD Bank, for example, recently introduced “TD Thrive,” an
upskilling initiative leveraging the learning platform Degreed, to
provide its employees with access to curated learning content,
assessment tools and learning paths to support upskilling.
Similarly, Sun Life Financial recently piloted the use of virtual
reality to create emotional connections through client experiences,
a critical soft skill.
hr career path
5. UP THE ANTE ON EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
Experiential learning is essential to upskilling. It can help
individuals retain learning by providing them with opportunities
to practise skills and embed behaviours into their
Job rotations and gig assignments are examples of experiential
learning. They require a conducive organizational
culture – one that supports and removes barriers to talent
mobility. To do this, leaders need to think differently about
employee utilization, develop practices that encourage talent
sharing and become more open to talent movement across
Experiential learning does not need to be limited to job rotations,
job shadowing or secondments. Many organizations are
thinking creatively about how to offer different and meaningful
learning experiences such as hackathons, external rotations,
skill-based volunteering opportunities or sabbaticals that allow
employees to broaden their experience.
PwC’s Digital Accelerators program, for example, enables
employees to accelerate their digital skills development, a key
component of the organization’s upskilling strategy. The firm
has released selected individuals from their “traditional” work for
approximately two years, so that they can rapidly apply learning
skills and champion organization-wide changes.
Upskilling is a business imperative for organizations to close
the growing skills gap. Successful strategies go beyond the development
of specific skills by creating an organizational culture
that fosters curiosity, cultivates a growth mindset and supports
employees with the leadership, meaningful experiences, tools and
other enablers needed to inspire a commitment to lifelong learning
and build organizational capacity for the future. n
Sashya D’Souza is the senior vice president of talent initiatives for
Toronto Finance International.
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ APRIL 2019 ❚ 27