The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world of work. From supporting employees in new and different work environments to adjusting to the unforeseen outcomes of the pandemic, companies are increasingly focused on talent, and looking for the best ways to retain their workforces and encourage growth and development.
One of the areas that is becoming an even bigger focus is skills. In the “2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends” survey, 53% of respondents said that between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. Amid the recovery from the pandemic-generated recession, there is increased competition to fill new roles while retaining employees, and a big part of that will require investments in skills development—shifting thinking from “acquiring talent” to “creating talent.” And at Workday, we’re doing just that.
Our Skills Transformation
We believe investing in skills is a great way to help our employees succeed in their current roles and grow professionally. Our talent philosophy is to create an environment where employees can continually build their careers, develop capabilities, deepen connections, make contributions, and feel recognized for their efforts. Our employees are our number one core value, and we continuously create programs that will help them cultivate their skills in a way that helps them feel engaged and motivated.
We also know that a skills-based people strategy is critically important in acquiring new talent. Identifying the most important skills for a role—instead of just relying on degrees and previous job titles—can help with hiring based on potential, expanding pathways for candidates and opening up new talent pools.
We had a sense of where we wanted to focus our skills efforts, but wanted the data to support it, which is why we surveyed employees who had participated in short-term career opportunities—known as gigs—through Workday Talent Marketplace. The findings were encouraging: 95% of gig participants said they were able to build on existing skills or build new skills, while 96% of gig hosts felt the gig produced better results, and/or efficiency on the team.
Taking this insight, we’ve designed our skills-based people strategy to target three primary personas—individual contributors, people leaders, and organization leaders—who we feel best represent the makeup of our workforce. From there, we’re leveraging our own system—Workday Human Capital Management (HCM)—to provide new skills capabilities.
Here’s how our vision will play out:
Individual contributors. Our individual contributors are looking for opportunities to learn new skills outside of their current roles, and through Career Hub, they’ll be able to receive curated content to help develop new skills, or sign up for a gig to work on a project with a different team. For example, a product manager might create a gig looking for support to build new functionality in Workday. An employee in engineering who has skills in a similar programming language signs up to work on this project. Through this gig, the employee gains new programming language skills, while also establishing a new connection with a different team.
People leaders. Through Career Hub and gigs, people leaders will be able to encourage team members to leverage their capabilities and grow new skills, which in turn helps to increase employee engagement. Meanwhile, people leaders will be able to leverage gigs to find additional resources within the company to help support if their team is at full capacity. For instance, a product manager’s team members might not have the bandwidth to build a certain product functionality themselves, so by creating a gig, the product manager is able to get a new feature in production, keeping the roadmap on schedule.
Organization leaders. Through our skills reporting capabilities, organization leaders will be able to better understand skills gaps to determine how to manage and deploy their talent as business needs shift. For example, an organization leader might identify a need for sales skills specific to the higher education industry sector. They can analyze their current organizational skill set in order to decide whether to hire or acquire talent externally, or grow their talent internally through training opportunities.
Our Skills Narrative
In addition to the specific skills-based capabilities for each persona, we’ve also created a shared language around skills at Workday. We’re defining, assessing, and developing talent based on the three following factors—which incorporate hard and soft skills—and make up an individual’s skills portfolio:
Core skills. These are the abilities and behaviors that demonstrate Workday’s core values. Core skills include empathy, creativity, and problem solving.
Job skills. These are the minimum abilities and behaviors required for a particular job. Job skills for a software engineering role, for example, may include knowledge of SQL, cloud-based architecture, and programming.
Unique skills. These are the additional abilities and behaviors that go beyond core and job skills and contribute to a person’s potential to bring value to a given role or project. For example, unique skills can be the passion, interest, and energy an employee brings to a subject or task, the network they can leverage, or the diverse perspective they bring to their team.
By incorporating this shared language around skills into our talent management practices at Workday, we’ll be leaning more on skills and capabilities to help guide our decision-making. This is also a major part of our skills-based hiring strategy, where we are focused on identifying the most important skills for a role —instead of just relying on education and previous job experience —to fulfill business needs. As part of this, we are updating requirements to attract a more inclusive pool of candidates, leveraging skills-based assessments during the interview process, and sourcing candidates from non-traditional pathways through formal programs. A good example of this includes our Opportunity Onramps program, which expands pathways for individuals who have not had access to four-year degrees, but have been skilled through alternative routes like technical bootcamps.
We’re also involved in partnerships to support skills-based hiring strategies and improve economic mobility for workers. For example, we’ve partnered with the non-profit Opportunity@Work, which leverages Workday’s skills cloud to support its online talent platform, Stellarworx, matching workers who are skilled through alternative routes, known as STARs, with employers in need of skilled talent.
In this changing world of work, our employees remain our number one core value and we’ll continuously listen to our people to evolve our skills-based people strategy over time. And as we build out our skills-based hiring approach further, we look forward to opening up more talent pools to continue building an increasingly innovative and diverse workforce.