How 4 companies are building future-fit skills

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

Become a skills-based organization by taking a page from these companies’ playbooks

You don’t have to look far to see how quickly skill needs are changing. Thanks to the rise of generative AI, tasks like transcribing an interview or responding to a customer query are quickly becoming automated. 

Although these new innovations can do much of the heavy lifting for more manual tasks, they’re also creating greater demand for more strategic capabilities, like database modeling and problem-solving. Consequently, if leaders are looking to harness AI to their organization’s advantage, they’re going to need to create pathways to empower employees to hone new and relevant skill sets. 

While mainstream AI use cases are a relatively new phenomenon, there are already a handful of visionary organizations that have adapted their skill-building strategy accordingly to encourage their workforces to hone new, future-fit capabilities. We had to chance to catch up with leaders at some of these forward-thinking companies and we’re sharing their best practices for giving your skill-building strategy a future-fit upgrade. 

What are future-fit skills?

Future-fit skills describe any capability that is likely to grow in demand as technology evolves and consumer expectations shift. While it’s not always possible to predict which emerging competencies will become increasingly important, the rise of generative AI suggests that capabilities like prompt engineering and image processing will rise to the top of leaders’ priority lists. 

As AI use cases continue to become mainstream, most companies will need to shift their skill-building strategy so that employees can learn competencies to best leverage these tools. At the same time, organizations can likely de-prioritize learning initiatives for more manual tasks that AI will be able to pick up.  

Why is building future-fit skills a priority? 

Most leaders recognize that their businesses will need to make significant changes to thrive in the new world of work. Nearly 1 in 2 CEOs believe that their companies won’t be viable in ten years if they continue on their current paths. 

As executives look to make big changes to future-proof their organizations, honing in-demand competencies will be crucial for preparing their workforce for the next wave of technological innovations. According to LinkedIn data, by the year 2030, the skills needed for jobs are anticipated to change by at least 65%. It’s up to executives to build future-fit skills now so they can prevent knowledge gaps from wreaking havoc on their bottom lines in the future. 

5 steps for building future-fit skills, based on four winning skills strategies 

While honing future-fit skills is challenging, there are a handful of trailblazing companies that demonstrate what impactful upskilling and reskilling look like in action. Here are a few tried-and-true best practices based on the winning strategies that leaders at HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, MetLife, and Novartis use:

#1. Partner with stakeholders to gain support for your reskilling initiative 

While HR leaders are often at the helm of devising future-fit skill-building strategies, these initiatives must have champions outside of the department to be impactful and gain widespread support. To get financial leaders on board with your reskilling journey, strive to show them how building in-demand capabilities will impact your organization’s bottom line, which is what Tanuj Kapilashrami did at Standard Chartered Bank.

“I could see my Chief Financial Officer’s eyes light up, because basically what the data said is that it’s going to cost us $49,000 per person,” she explains. “It’s going to be cheaper for us to reskill and redeploy versus hire externally. And if you were talking about such a mass disruption, around your workforce over that period, it was a very compelling case for change.” 

#2.  Don’t underestimate the value of transferable skills

In addition to creating pathways for employees to hone new skills, leaders must recognize that certain competencies can be applicable to a variety of roles and functions. These capabilities, known as transferable skills, can make certain employees ideal candidates for reskilling so that they can step into high-priority roles. 

Laura Powell, Global Head of HR at HSBC, is familiar with this phenomenon because it’s something she’s experienced first-hand. When the leading financial services institution needed more wealth managers, her team devised a pilot in Hong Kong and Singapore to find employees with transferable skills. Describing the success of this initiative, she notes, “We were taking this leap of faith that transferable skills can really work in order to train people up to do these key roles for us in the future. And we’ve had over a 90% success rate which is amazing.”

#3.  Make skill-building part of your employee experience 

Future-fit skill building doesn’t just benefit your business; it’s also hugely advantageous for employees who are looking to stay relevant in the midst of accelerating technological change. Consequently, MetLife’s Chief Employee Experience and Care Officer Brendan Lynch encourages leaders to weave upskilling and reskilling into the fabric of their organization’s employee value proposition. 

In describing how MetLife approaches skill-building, he explains, “We see six ingredients or components that are together surrounding the employee holistically for them to be able to flourish and reach their full potential. An acute focus on professional and skill development is one of them. And of course, you have to talk about compensation, wellness programs, and how to bring all of that together with work-life integrations, the zigs and zags that come with life, and the ups and downs.”

#4.  Prevent siloes and barriers from standing in the way of skill-building 

Even once you’ve got leaders on board with your skill-building initiative, there’s a chance that silos will prevent employees from participating in it. Removing the barriers and boundaries surrounding skill development can be particularly challenging at large organizations, which is something Novartis’s Global Head of Performance and Talent Development Sara Steiner is familiar with. 

“In a company with about 75,000 people, we have plenty of opportunities internally. So it cannot be that people leave the organization in order to progress,” she explains. “So this is where our talent marketplace came in removing some of the barriers but this is also where the concept of skills really comes in strongly as being that red thread that connects different processes within our organization.” By leveraging a talent marketplace to generate suggestions for projects and gigs that help employees build in-demand skills, Novartis can empower its entire workforce to keep learning and growing. 

#5. Demonstrate how your skills strategy impacts your bottom line 

Want to keep support for your future-fit skill-building strategy going strong? Measure the impact it’s having on your business—and don’t be afraid to show off your results, like Tanuj Kapilashrami did. In describing the success of Standard Chartered Bank’s skill-building initiative, which is also powered by a talent marketplace, she says, “We’ve got Gloat’s talent marketplace in fifty-three of our markets. We are able to demonstrate very actively the amount of productivity that’s been freed up in the company every year.”


If you’re looking for more actionable advice on what it takes to turn your skills transformation vision into a success, check out Sara Steiner’s discussion about Novartis’s journey to become skills-based.

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