3 insights from our L&D strategy panel with FedEx, J&J, Rock Central, and Humana

The future of work is here, accelerated by the crises of the past year. To help organizations navigate this landscape, we convened learning and talent leaders from FedEx, Humana, Johnson & Johnson, and Rock Central for a webinar on how they’re future-proofing their organizations through learning and upskilling. Panelists included:

  • Tamera Maresh-Carver, Managing Director, Global Learning and Development, FedEx
  • KimArie Yowell, Chief Learning Officer, Rock Central
  • Clint Kofford, Global Head, Human Performance Institute and Talent Development, Johnson & Johnson
  • Katie Giles, Director of Talent Management, Humana
  • Moderator: Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp and Guild Advisory Board Member

The conversation covered strategies for implementing equitable educational systems for the entire organization, why a learning culture is a high-performance culture, and more.

Read on for three key insights from the discussion, or listen to the recording and share it with your team.

1. When L&D gets intentional with development programs, they can help change mindsets to encourage more women and employees of color to pursue new roles.

All panelists spoke about an emphasis on equity in L&D, hitting on specific ways they design programs to not just provide employees with new skills, but to help shift the mindset around career development.

At FedEx, giving employees a range of learning options and making areas of development clear can help encourage more people to raise their hands, particularly women. As Tamera Maresh-Carver, Managing Director, Global Learning and Development, FedEx, puts it, “When you ask women, we have a tendency to say you know what, I don’t check every single box for this so I’m not going to raise my hand for it. But if L&D can get intentional with development programs…you really can change that dynamic. So now people at Fedex are starting to say, you know what, I don’t check every single box for that job yet, but this degree program or this development program can help me get there so put me in.”

At Rock Central, CLO KimArie Yowell believes the mistake that organizations make is thinking of the learning organization as the programs it puts in place or the participation rates of employees. But as she sees it, “it’s really about the mindset.” That’s why they take employee feedback very seriously, and why they implemented a solution to give hourly employees dedicated time off for learning.

To address the skills gap, you have to have a range of programs and learning options that help every employee take a step forward.

2. Future-proofing your workforce means thinking about the skills of every employee, from the frontline to the C-Suite.

Being laser-focused on skills can bring clarity and equity to this process. At Humana, they rely on discrete skills language to demystify career development. As Katie Giles, Director of Talent Management at Humana, describes, they underwent a huge initiative to associate clear skills language for 100% of jobs—with 50% of the total associate population having discrete skills in their career profiles.

Career paths are fluid—as Katie points out, Humana is not a factory. When you break down what skills people actually need to get the job they want, they can then search Humana’s learning center to understand their options to acquire those skills, whether it’s skilled volunteerism, formal classes, or mentorship. Using the same language makes it clear, equitable, and easy to track.

FedEx also understands and prioritizes the need to bring the whole organization forward. Tamera noted that they have frontline handlers and meteorologists and pilots on staff, so there has to be something for everyone. “Where we get off kilter sometimes is that we think…we’re going to wave a magic wand and our data entry clerk is going to be a Python developer…but the reality of that is that it’s a process, and the whole organization will need to take a step…That means we have to create scalable learning cultures.”

3. An organization with a true learning culture is a high-performance organization. Talent mobility is key to thriving in the future of work.

Clint Kofford, Global Head of Human Performance Institute and Talent Development at Johnson & Johnson, talked a lot about purpose when thinking about developing talent. At his organization, they recently came out with a statement for the enterprise about changing the trajectory of health for humanity. It’s a lofty goal, and a high-performing workforce is necessary to achieve that goal. At J&J, they think about enabling purpose and relying on personalization of learning experiences to boost talent mobility. They identify skills and learning paths, but as Clint says, “If we can get more honest and more clear with our employees around what they’re trying to accomplish, we can better maximize their skills, their energy, and their time with their organization.”

Talent mobility is also a key part of culture at Rock Central. With a culture of “learning for all,” KimArie noted that, “as a leadership team we’re committed to that hourly team member that came in someday being potentially the CEO,” so they work from there to get that team member what they need in that career journey. She also pointed out that L&D doesn’t operate in a silo—it’s deeply integrated with other departments: “We partner with our business partners, we partner with HR. We are doing this together versus people feeling as though learning development or people develop is doing something to you. We’re doing this with you.”

KimArie also shared a powerful message about the importance of prioritizing employee growth and mobility. Last June, they were debating whether to launch or delay their new education and upskilling programs with Guild:

“Do we do this now, is June the right time for us to do this? Families are at home, there’s so much going on…and I will tell you it was the very best thing that we could have done. If we had hesitated, we would have definitely put our hourly team members in a place where they weren’t able to thrive and grow as quickly. And the Guild partnership, along with the programs that we’re offering, we’re seeing a tremendous uptick and impact.”

For more insights, listen to the full conversation or share it with your team.

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