In our era of constant disruption, workplace learning is now a key differentiator between businesses that thrive and those that don’t. At EY, a professional services firm with 250,000+ people in over 150 countries, our leadership team recognised the importance of continuous learning and recently transformed our approach to talent development. I had the opportunity to speak on a Udemy for Business People Innovators Panel in London and here are some highlights of what we discussed.

EY helps businesses and governments solve complex challenges every day. This means we must constantly develop our workforce to understand and apply the latest technologies and approaches to solve these problems, whether it’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) or data science, blockchain or Augmented Reality. Preparing our EY people for the future of work is key to our continued success. As a result, we recently launched a series of global talent programs to prepare our workforce and business for the future.

Here’s how we keep our people up to speed with change at EY.

Forward-looking LEAD Program for career development

LEAD is a new global model for career development and performance at EY. LEAD uses technology and innovative digital platforms to encourage real-time feedback across EY’s global workforce, so people gain the insights they need to develop, grow their individual careers, and prepare for the future of work. LEAD features personal digital dashboards that provide an easy way for EY people to view feedback from their teams and track their progress in real-time. LEAD shifts away from retrospective, ratings-based performance evaluations to real-time feedback and forward-looking conversations about individual career journeys and long-term future aspirations.

Encouraging employees to learn skills that prepare them for the future of work

To ensure our people are ready for the future, our EY Badges Program incentivises employees to learn “hot” skills like Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analytics, and robotics by providing the opportunity to earn digital credentials. The 4 levels of EY badges (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) are earned through world-class learning, fulfilling required experiences, and making a contribution to learning through coaching or training others and thought leadership.

EY is the first professional services employer to offer digital badges globally to its people in this way and the program is tailored to individual career goals. The badges are featured on employees’ social media channels and are used to match EY people with relevant projects. The EY badges program ultimately equips our workforce with future-focused skills that help our clients overcome challenges and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Increasingly, our biggest challenge from a learning & development perspective is keeping up with the fast pace of change. Udemy for Business, our online learning provider, helps us achieve this by enabling our employees to access on-demand, highly curated, and up-to-date learning content in hot skill areas like AI and analytics.

Democratising access to learning

One of the things we’re also trying to do is democratise access to learning. We want to enable people to learn by centralising learning in one place and making it both accessible and engaging. We also see ourselves as curators and marketers of great content of both internally and externally-curated collections like Udemy for Business. We listen to our people’s preferences as well: how do they like to learn? What do they want to learn? Before we purchased Udemy for Business licences, we discovered people at EY were learning on Udemy on their own and paying for it themselves.

But building your learning catalog is not enough. It’s also about selling learning to your people. You’re constantly competing with their essential day-to-day tasks. Our learning team relies on marketing tactics to raise awareness and interest. Just like any marketing campaign, it needs to adapt with the business. We also get buy-in from managers. We want managers to enable people to learn what they’re most interested in, even if it may not be directly related to their current role.

Boomerang approach: encourage employees to leave and come back

EY also recognises the flexibility of the gig economy and taps into a network of contractors to adapt quickly to change. We offer some of our key learning resources to our contractors as well. We recognise the traditional, more static employee-employer model is evolving to become more flexible with alternative career paths, whether it’s short-term contractor assignments or more frequent job-hopping. We actively encourage people to gain experiences outside EY, work with our customers or competitors, and then come back to EY with valuable skills. This “boomerang approach” continuously enriches our workforce’s skill-set.

In summary, it’s an exciting time to be in learning; our world is changing so fast we cannot continue to rely on our old ways of working and we have to practise what we preach by learning adaptability and agility to remain a differentiator for our people.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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