How CHROs Can Prepare Their Workforces for 2018

What does 2018 hold for HR executives? Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer at Workday, shares her thoughts on automation, reskilling, and why learning environments need to evolve with a changing workplace.

As I come back from celebrating the holidays with family and friends, I’m thinking a lot about the year ahead and what 2018 holds for those of us in HR. We all know technology will continue to impact the way people work and how our organizations are run, just as it has over the past decade. Yet I have a feeling we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg.

Already, the very concept of a worker has changed—mobility and connectivity have made it easier for people to work on a contingent, part-time, or freelance basis, spawning what we now know as the “gig economy.” Technology has also made it easier for companies to expand geographically without necessarily incurring the costs of new locations, allowing them to engage virtually with workers anywhere on the globe.

As technology continues to reshape work, new talent gaps will pop up that will need to be filled by people with the right skills.

In addition, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, machine learning, and predictive analytics have the power to change the fabric of our organizations, making us smarter and more productive, but also making some job functions obsolete.

All of these developments require us to plan now for how we utilize technology to our advantage in the workplace. In this era of automation and advancing AI, HR professionals should be more focused than ever on helping to reskill and develop employees whose jobs may be impacted—and not just because it’s the right thing to do. As technology continues to reshape work, new talent gaps will pop up that will need to be filled by people with the right skills.

That’s why organizations need to assess what their learning environments look like today and where they can provide greater support. One method we’ve discussed is leveraging learning approaches that have been successful in the consumer world. But there are other approaches outside of an organization’s standard learning approach that can also be highly effective.

Taking a Fresh Look at Reskilling

Additional at-work programs can provide valuable learning opportunities that don’t involve a computer screen. At our European headquarters in Dublin, we’ve been piloting a program we call Career Growth Experience. First, we identified the capabilities and skills that have enabled people to achieve success in specific jobs. Now we’re helping Dublin-based employees connect the skills they want to develop with specific career experiences that demonstrate mastery in those capabilities.

We should also explore nontraditional reskilling models that can help companies expand their talent pool by tapping into parts of the population that have significant potential but have been out of the workforce for a period of time. In a session at Workday Rising in October, Sheila Marcelo, CEO of, spoke about how has been encouraging the reentry of stay-at-home mothers into the workforce by recruiting them to help run its online marketplace. Marcelo is excited by the results they are seeing.

In a similar vein, at Workday, we’ve rolled out the Career Accelerator Program, which provides technical training and internships to military veterans who are challenged with transitioning from military life to meaningful careers in civilian life. During the pilot program in 2016, 83 percent of participants joined Workday full time, and 100 percent of participants told us they would recommend the program to other veterans transitioning to civilian life.

Advances in technology will continue to change the way we view talent and organize our workforces. In the face of this, it will be HR’s responsibility to provide the leadership necessary to ensure workers have the new skills required for our organizations to remain agile, efficient, and prepared for whatever disruptions the future brings.

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