The Great Resignation: Career Development Strategies to Win the Talent War

The Great Resignation: Career Development Strategies to Win the Talent War

As businesses struggle to recover from the pandemic, they find themselves facing an unexpected talent shortage. From frontline employees to highly skilled technical roles, new workers are tough to find. Many employees, currently treading water in their job, will be looking for new opportunities as the economy picks up. And long-term demographics mean this talent shortage will last for many years. Businesses searching for answers are finding that investing in education provides a solution.

Watch, The Great Resignation: Career Development Strategies to Win the Talent War.

In this program, industry expert Josh Bersin talks with HR and learning leaders who’ve led the way in rolling out innovative workforce education programs, which have shown impressive results in employee retention, engagement and reskilling.


Dr. Buban: A warm welcome to everyone joining us from around the country today. We're looking forward to sharing the next hour with you discussing and maybe debating topics around workforce education and talent development. For those of you who aren't wholly familiar with Bright Horizons, we are the leading global education and care company that partners with employers to provide exceptional early learning, family care, and workforce education solutions that transform lives and organizations. Through our suite of services. Bright Horizons provides tailored workforce education programs now available to over seven million U.S. employees and we help grow careers, develop more skilled and innovative workforces, and drive DEI in the workplace. That's a lot.

Speaking of workforce education solutions, I am Dr. Jill Buban, the GM and VP of EdAssist Solutions. For over 15 years, I've worked at both private and public higher education institutions as well as national organizations focused on helping adult learners achieve their personal, professional, and educational goals. In my role at EdAssist Solutions, I am so fortunate to be able to work with great corporate partners such as Allstate to help find workforce education solutions for hundreds of thousands of adult working learners, and really kind of bringing all of this past work that I've done focusing on helping employers and employees build a robust workforce and find solutions to really have workers achieve their dreams.

So I'm really thrilled to welcome our panelists today. Christy Harris, VP, Talent Management, benefits, and inclusive diversity of Allstate Insurance Company, and industry analyst, Josh Bersin. Christy, it sounds like you cover quite a bit in your role. And I feel like there's always something being added on to that title. So, can you tell us a little bit more about your background and your role at Allstate?


Christy: Sure. Thanks, Jill. I'm excited to be here today. And I lead all things talent. So, that comes from the talent acquisition. What's a little bit unique about Allstate is that we recruit for our employees but we also recruit for our independent agents, those where you see in the strip malls, you know, the Allstate Insurance or your particular agent. And we also recruit for their staff. And then I handle all the talent management and talent learning, culture, employee experience, and inclusive diversity and equity, which is a slightly different take on DEI, just reversing it. We've used inclusion in our title for over 10 years. And it was always about inclusion first. So we called it inclusive diversity. And most recently, we added equity. But I've been at Allstate for 20 years. I have led, you know, HR operations, Total Rewards, and now have most of the talent operations.


Dr. Buban: That's phenomenal, Christy, and you've been such a good partner. I'm really excited to talk more about the journey you've taken with Allstate and employee benefits and workforce education. But I actually think your background is so fascinating too, having gone up through the company and knowing all facets of it. But that's probably another webinar.


Christy: It's certainly tied to our employability conversation I'm going to talk about in a few minutes.


Dr. Buban: Oh, excellent. Excellent. And, Josh, for those people out in the audience that don't know Josh. Josh, can you give us an introduction, please?


Josh: Sure. I like to call myself an industry analyst and focused exclusively, really, on all the issues of HR in the workplace and the workforce. And I've been doing this for about 22 or 23 years. I also spend a lot of time with the vendors and the technology providers in HR. And we have, you know, really our core business as a professional development academy for HR teams and leaders. So we spent a lot of time on the skills and capabilities of HR also. So we're, you know, very involved in all the issues of education and skilling and careers that go on in companies. And Christy and I have gotten to know each other pretty well. And I'm really, really, you know, very impressed at what Allstate's doing. So, I think you're all going to learn a lot today.


Dr. Buban: Thanks, Josh. And I can't go on without mentioning, Christy and Josh are great supporters of Bright Horizons and our EdAssist Solutions as members of our learning advisory board, and really helping us guide conversations with a lot of our corporate partners around what's happening now in the workforce, what's happening in the future, and how we can help guide decisions around these programs that we help our partners create.

But we really want towant to get some audience participation. I can't go a panel without trying to drag everyone in. So, we'd really like to know, out of these options below, what is your most pressing talent concern right now? I know it's hard to pick just one. But if you were to pick one, we'd love to know what it is. Is it attracting new talent? Retaining your existing talent? Identifying what new skills employees need, or delivering new skills employees need? And then we'll show the results up on the screen so we can see what's happening. Hope you can see all those.


Josh: It's all about attracting and retaining right now.


Dr. Buban: I'm going togoing to get over, let's see if we have some results. Yep. Josh was the teaser there. So great. Yeah, at about... And you can still answer and we don't want towant to take up too much time, but wanted to see each kind of level set before we get going and really take a look at... Yeah, 44% of you saying attracting new talent, and 45 say retaining. So, right on, Josh. It's a combo of those two. And then, you know, I like to think it's figuring out what skills. How you attract new employees with skills, and how you retain them with skills, right? And we'll be getting into that a little bit more.

So, to just set the scene a little bit, you know, looking at this talent landscape, we know that quit rates are reaching new highs and many employees currently treading water in their job will be looking for new opportunities as the economy picks up. As businesses struggle to recover from the pandemic, they find themselves facing an unexpected talent shortage. We're hearing this, I know, every day in the news, I know many of us on this call are facing this shortage or thinking about this shortage. I can't help but think, I live in the Northeast, I was in Dunkin' Donuts recently, where they had a sign that they were paying, you know, $18 an hour just to get staffing. So I think that really brought me to mind like what types of shortage in every level we're facing here. And that brings us back to that attracting and retention.

So, we're looking at these record-high rates. We're seeing that 87% of workers see new skills as important for growth. We didn't see that in our poll today. But I think we'll make some of those connections, as I said, today. Two and three employees are expecting education benefits and 94% would stay at a company longer if offered education. We just released an education index, which I believe everyone on the webinar will be able to have access to after the webinar. And it revealed just how much education and increasing skills is important for workers.

A couple of quick statistics, we saw that workers are really hungry for stability and secure futures, with 87% agreeing that improving and diversifying skills is more important now than ever. We're going to talk a little bit about DEI later, but we also saw this varying quite significantly with blacks and Latinos and really recognition that they're looking for increased skills, increased education. We also see that workers are really no longer just wanting education assistance from their jobs, but they are expecting it. And so, as we see this, trying to attract talent, retain talent, how educational benefits can really help with both of those things.

So, I don't want to go on too long before we start some questions of our great panelists, because this is where we can have a lot of fun, and you can all learn a lot. So I'm going to start with our guest, Josh. And I'm curious, Josh, if you can tell us a little bit about the top trends you're seeing in the evolution of workforce education programs.


Josh: Sure. Well, I mean, I think the big issue right now in most companies is hybrid work, back to work or not back to work, based on what's going on in the pandemic, which in turn creates all sorts of other issues around skills and capabilities in jobs, given that the labor market is exploding with opportunity. So, you know, most companies are telling me, you know, "We sort of had a back-to-work strategy, we're redoing it, thanks to the Delta virus, and we're postponing it. And in the middle of that, you know, our relationship with customers is slightly different because of what's going on in the pandemic. And it's hard to hire. So we need to move people around internally."

In fact, I just did some research with seven of the world's largest companies. I don't think Allstate was part of this, but I know Christy is going togoing to talk about it. And almost 35% to 40% of the jobs being filled are now internal people. So, this idea of internal mobility and career development and upskilling and reskilling internally is now a survival strategy. It isn't just a good idea. It's something you have to do to grow and to evolve. And then this bottom idea of what I call, you know, really cross-functional capabilities. Jobs are becoming much less defined. And so, everybody's job is becoming a little more hybrid. And so, people in all roles, even if they're in a very well-protected job, want to reskill, and upskill, and learn new things for their own personal career and their own personal growth and for the company's evolution. So all of these things are going on at the same time, of course, landing in the laps of HR. So, in many ways, the training and development issue is completely coupled with recruiting, talent mobility, and really job design. So it's really become a very fascinating and complex time for HR.


Dr. Buban: Yeah, and to that point, Josh, I was just doing some reading, I think it was "Long Life Learning" by Michelle Weise, so, there's another workforce skills book, but trying to keep up with some literature out there. And it mentioned that the horizontal capability is a really big topic for employers right now. And also those evergreen skills. And thinking that if you have these types of skill sets, you can really be mobile and transition, you know, across your organization. So it sounds like you're hearing that as well.


Josh: Yeah. I call them power skills because we used to call them soft skills but they're really not soft. And one of the ways to think about it is, and I was talking to somebody yesterday about this, you know, most people don't realize that your career is going to go on for, you know, maybe 50, 60, you know, some people will have 70-year careers, maybe longer. So, you know, you're always going to be learning and you're always going to be evolving, and the business model and the industry you're in is going to keep changing. So, building these cross-functional capabilities, and understanding how to work in teams, and keeping up on technology is just part of everybody's job.


Dr. Buban: Yeah, I think I just said to someone yesterday, I said, "Gone are the days where we all dream of retirement to Florida at 65." Another article I read was, people are working into their 80s. We have more longevity, so we are working longer and how do we continue to have those skills? And I think, for the employer, it's figuring out when you have a good workforce, you have good employees, how do you continue to reskill them and keep them attracted to your workplace? So, Christy, I'm hoping you can talk a little bit about that.

I mentioned to everyone that Allstate is a wonderful partner to Bright Horizons and to our EdAssist Solutions. They've taken a phenomenally proactive and innovative approach to workforce education. We offer quite a few different projects...or products and opportunities for educational pathways within our solutions. And Christy and her team have really taken on some innovative ways to both retain and attract some employees and provide them with the skills. So, Christy, could you walk us through your program and how it's delivering on some of your goals for retention in the workplace?


Christy: Sure. Several years ago, we had a transition at the president level. This is the previous president to what we have today. But as a result of it, tax laws changed. And corporations found themselves with a tax break. And, you know, at the time was really when the discussion was happening around the future of work. And this is, you know, a little bit different than what was happening as a result of COVID around how does the workplace look? But this was around skills and skills that we're going to need, not only for today, but in the future.

And so, we invested $30 million in upskilling and reskilling, and we called it a program called employability. And employability is really a key aspect of our employee value proposition. You might recall that at the time, companies, you know, were giving out either one-time bonuses, some companies were doing more to invest in the long-term employability of their workforce. And that's actually what we had chose to do. We were just in the middle of really looking at our business strategies and determining the skills that we had today and the gap to the skills we're going to need in the future.

And what does employability really mean and why did Allstate go after this? Well, Allstate has benefited from a lot of long-term tenured employees. And those employees often have deep technical and functional expertise. The insurance industry has been and continues to feel disruption, and many, you know, others are really trying to automate, digitize, and tech enable our processes and customer interactions to create simple, affordable experiences and products. So, with the introduction of drones, which you might not have thought of, but those can look at roof damage, so now we don't send adjusters up on roofs, or cell phone cameras that can actually upload damage from your auto accident, you know. And now we no longer need to send adjusters to the accident or the auto body shop to create an estimate.

But the real thing was is that this actually require different skills. It's different to crawl underneath the automobile or crawl on top of a roof to look at the damage. You are now having to look at digital images and using technology to really create estimates. We did not know this, but a couple of years ago is when we started to pivot to this. Obviously, if we hadn't done this during COVID, we would have created an awful experience for our customers and probably put our employees and our customers more at risk. And that really helped us prepare and really create less disruption while we have been operating mostly from home in the last year-and-a-half.

But this really created a need for different types of skills, different types of experiences, and that we knew that we needed to ensure our employees had skills that are relevant, not just for today, but for tomorrow. And that's really our employability promise, that we are investing so that our employees have the skills that are relevant, whether that is staying at Allstate are finding a place, you know, outside in the marketplace.

Allstate's been around for 90 years. And we know we needed to continue to upskill, reskill, and really think about the capabilities we need in the future if we were going to be sustainable and stay in the business for the next 90 years. So, employability is really sort of focused on creating a pull strategy versus a push strategy. And we're really trying to create a learning experience, not necessarily training, but that employees want and seek out. So, we've invested in learning platforms, learning partners, and really curated content. We actually doubled down on our investment last year as we went through some reductions and really helped employees create bridging opportunities, whether that's bridging, you know, to a new career within Allstate, bridging to a career outside of Allstate, or a brand new career platform that they were trying to build.

So, we wanted new careers, new trades, new consulting. We were going to help bridge our employees to those new opportunities. And the other thing that I just want to talk a little bit about is our talent marketplace. And we have a program called Enterprise Talent Marketplace. And this is where we post all of our jobs up to Vice President level. So we have filled over 10,000 roles on average each year. Normally, our internal mobility or internal fill rate is somewhere between 35% and 42%. This year, actually, because we have recruited a large number of entry-level roles, our internal mobility is about 32%. When you to take out the entry-level roles, it's more like 55%. And then when you go up to our director levels, it's more like 65%, 67%. So, essentially, every job we...


Dr. Buban: That's amazing.


Christy: Yeah. Every job we post at the director level, you know, two out of three are filled internally.


Dr. Buban: Wow. There's so much there, Christy. And I'm thinking, too, we keep hearing in the news or I feel like everywhere, and probably everyone on this webinar is so connected to the workforce that you're hearing it as well, but that automation is taking jobs away, taking jobs away. But when you dig a little bit deeper, I'm so glad you brought up that it's also the opportunity to reskill employees to work alongside automation and how those skills change, and how you're, you know, kind of encouraging a different mindset around the skills employees have, and the talent marketplace seems to sell so such a solution to so many of the questions and the issues that we're facing.


Christy: Yeah. And it isn't without controversy, because the way we do our enterprise talent marketplace is that we don't require our employees to sit in a job for any required minimum of time before they can actually post for a new role. And the reason why we did this is because they don't have to post for or get permission to apply for a job externally if they haven't sat in their current job for a year. So we're essentially mirroring the marketplace, nor do they have to ask their manager for position, I mean, for, you know, permission to post for that role. So we actually take the leader out of it. They can post, get the job, and then they notify their leader even if it's an internal job.


Josh: Jill, there's a very subtle... There's many, many benefits to the talent marketplace, but let me just mention one thing relative to automation. So, you know, this idea of everything being automated and taking away jobs, the opposite occurs. Every time you automate something, you create a new job. It's a little bit of a better job than the one you had before. I remember when there was a steno pool when I worked at IBM in the 1980s. Those people didn't disappear. They became much higher-level roles.

And when you have a talent marketplace like Christy does, the organization doesn't necessarily have to do as much proactive effort to move people into new roles because people will find things that they believe are interesting or adjacent to what they're doing. And that is really I think the future of organizations. It's not us sitting around in HR pulling the strings and deciding this person needs to go over there. It's people finding those opportunities on their own and then educating themselves. And that's a very, very powerful engagement process in organizations.


Christy: The only thing I was going to add is, you know, our enterprise talent marketplace is really full-time job. So you're essentially posting for a new opportunity when you do that. We also have what we call a talent share process. And that's actually where you can post for a short-term assignment or a part-time assignment. So you can get on a project where you're 20%, or 40%, or 50% of your full-time equivalent is dedicated to that project, or you could go over to another assignment work full-time for three, six, or nine months. This also helps you apply the learning, you know, into real job experience.


Dr. Buban: That's phenomenal. So, I guess, Christy or Josh, I'm curious, because oftentimes, we also have employers come to us saying, you know, "We need to upskill 50 people in, let's say, cyber security." So, are you seeing that the talent marketplace by possibly putting those positions in the marketplace, you're solving that problem, as opposed to going out, like Josh said, and plucking through and trying to find 50 people to upskill within your organization?


Christy: We've done both. We looked at, within our technology function, and we knew we had certain technologists that were having skills that we're going to need less of, you know, in the future, maybe they were working on an old tech stack that was being phased out, and that they had some foundational skills that could actually apply to cybersecurity. So we had a cybersecurity boot camp, and really put, you know, employees through that.

But we also try to leverage, you know, our internal technology to say, "Hey, you have these skills, here's jobs that we're hiring a lot of. These are the skills. Here's where your gaps are. And then here's different methods or career learning paths to be able to help build the requisite knowledge." And then we try to find and match those on-the-job experiences to build that real-life, you know, capability.


Josh: Let me give you, you know, my thinking on this. I think the talent marketplace is the natural evolution or the modern approach to the old model of doing it by hand, instead of, you know, Marriott deciding what hotel you should go to for your vacation, you go to Airbnb, and you find the one that's right for you. And that's essentially, with corporations, that's exactly what's happening here, you guys. It's the same idea is, you know, Christy could say, "We need 50 cybersecurity people. Let's go out and find them. Oh, let's email a whole bunch of managers, see which ones want to volunteer people." A lot of them won't even answer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, or we can just open it up and see who applies and then assess their skills. There's no choice. I think we're all going to eventually go in this direction. And I think Allstate was way ahead of the curve because they did this... Christy, you did this, you know, quite a while ago, and now a lot of companies are starting to do this.


Christy: Yeah, about 10 years ago.


Josh: Yeah.


Dr. Buban: Yeah. I love the analogy to Airbnb or TripAdvisor too, Josh. It's true. It's like how many times do you just call Marriott or...? Anyhow, so, this is great context around...I mean, honestly, like, the five-star retention and mobility employability journey here. Christy, it's like, when I talk about it, when I think about it, it completely amazes me, as Josh said, how far ahead of the curve you were, but also really how innovative you are in thinking about the future. And I'll kind of transition that to that other part of your title, inclusive diversity, equity.

And thinking know, we all know this is for a myriad of reasons, know it's been increasingly important objective for employers. And we're looking more critically at how companies are delivering on commitments in the area of DEI. So the education index that I mentioned earlier said that 43% of U.S. workers say development programs are an important way to promote equity. And as I mentioned earlier, I had that little teaser that 90% of black respondents and 91% of Latino workers are especially likely to call learning new skills important for their future successes. So we know that finding these pathways, providing educational opportunities is also becoming a very important DEI initiative, and really, equalizer. From your perspective, Christy, what role can L&D and education benefits play in this diversity initiative?


Christy: Yeah. So, you know, I know I mentioned this previously, but inclusive diversity and equity has really been a core value of Allstate for over 10 years. And we've had several programs, you know, to develop and advance the inclusion representation of our employee base. We still have room and opportunity to do more. And in order for us to really create sustainability within, you know, diversity, equity, inclusion. It can't stand on its own and it certainly can't be adjacent to the business or the talent practices. It really needs to be embedded across the talent lifecycle.

And some of the things that we're doing in this space is really removing barriers to education for entry-level, early-career employees. So, I know, Jill, you mentioned, you know, around tuition reimbursement. And we've typically had tuition reimbursement programs at Allstate. This year, we're piloting tuition assistance, which essentially is flipping itself and pre-paying tuition for our entry-level employees, because most of these employees... And by the way, our entry-level employees are our most diverse employee group. These are more ethnically diverse, more gender diverse.

And for these employees who are making, you know, $17, $18 an hour, sometimes it's very difficult to come up with the money to prepay tuition and then wait for the reimbursement, you know, a few months later when they complete the class. So we are fronting, essentially, the tuition that will allow them to pursue their education goals and we pay it directly to the institution through EdAssist, without putting our employees in that particular situation. And we're also, and Bright Horizons is one of these, is partnering with OneTen. And for those of you guys who aren't familiar with OneTen, it is a coalition where other companies who are really focused on committing to and advancing one million Black Americans over the next 10 years.

And, you know, that is also helping us make sure that we're really thinking about not what is it just around creating the demand or the supply of our ethnically...our people of color or our Bipoc employees, but also really thinking about the development and retention. So that, you, like many other companies, don't have your concentration of your most diverse employees at the bottom of the pipeline, but you are moving them through the pipeline to be able to reach the C suite at the same rate that's proportional to their white colleagues.

So, one other thing that we're piloting is a path to no-cost accelerated degree for employees. So this is allowing employees to take general ed courses at an accelerated rate. They also are able to receive coaching support to increase their academic success rates. This allows them to take those gen ed credits and transfer to a university, but it is a negotiated rate to be able to accelerate and it really cost nothing for our employees. So, that's... [crosstalk 00:34:00]


Dr. Buban: Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that last one, Christy. And that's, for those of you in the audience that probably aren't familiar with it. EdAssist Solutions offers something called our Fast Track program. And just as Christy said, you know, the typical adult learner has so much experiential learning and knowledge that they can get into their, if they're going for an entire degree, they can get directly into their content-specific areas and be excited and thrilled about it. But so many still have the gen eds that we have to take. So, this fast-track program allows for self-paced, low to no cost, depending on our partner, opportunities to get through those general education and go right into a degree program at a lot of partner institutions.

So, yeah, we're excited to start sharing some of the outcomes of that program. And definitely, Allstate and others have been such a proponent of that. But I'm also saying, I'm watching time, I always think an hour is going to go by so slowly, but it's already going quickly. So, I guess just to kind of wrap the conversation up, I think we could have a whole webinar on DEI and the different initiatives that not only companies but organizations like OneTen are providing. Josh, are you seeing anything in the more global marketplace that we should be aware of in this area?


Josh: Well, I wanted to make a comment, you know, tuition reimbursement and education is a hugely important benefit. But I think a lot of companies look at it as a benefit and that's it. So it's like, you know, "Oh, in our long, long list of benefits, there's a tuition reimbursement program somewhere in the list." And, you know, nobody sees it. So, the benefit of what Christy is doing and what I think you should think about is if you're going to do this, proactively promote it as a career enhancement opportunity and make sure that the people that go through these programs are visible to others, because, you know, it's very intimidating to go back to school, it's very hard, it takes time. And then you don't know if you're going to get credit for it or if anybody's going to treat you any differently after you finish. You need to make sure that that happens. Otherwise, you know, you're not really advancing the issue.

And I'd say, the other thing on DEI, in general, because we just finished a massive research thing on this, is, it has to be a business strategy, not just an HR strategy. Allstate has been around a long time, so they've had a lot of time to think about the problem. But for companies that are a little less mature, don't think of it as, "Oh, you know, we'll be a good DEI player because we'll give some education benefits to these people over here that we think are, you know, kind of being left behind." It has to be part of the corporate strategy of being an inclusive organization to your customers, to your supply chain, to the whole marketplace. And then it will kind of bring that all into focus. So, just a couple of thoughts on that topic.


Dr. Buban: Yeah, there's so much there. And I feel like, overall, in this discussion around talent mobility, workforce education, there's so much that we're hearing, you know, it's hard to process each bit and see how it fits within your company. Hopefully, today, we're taking a bite out of that.


Josh: One more thing I'll just throw out there for people, in many cases, it's more cost-effective for you to educate people than to hire people. So even if you're just the CFO, and the CFO says, "Why are we spending all this money on tuition? We can just go and hire the people we need." It's actually not cheaper to do that. So, there's financial reasons to do this, too.


Dr. Buban: That's actually a great segue, Josh, to the next question I was going to ask you. So, you know, we've found through our survey that Gen X and Millennials are two times as likely as older generations to pursue education. But I've also been reading that some of that is because the Gen X and Millennials are more likely to kind of jump to different job categories over their job lifespan. And so, how are you seeing this play out in the companies you're talking to? I'm making this connection around the education, but retaining the Gen X and Millennials through education and through opportunities within the company instead of leaving the company. I wonder if you can comment on all of that, or maybe I'm making the wrong connection.


Josh: Yeah. I mean, just really briefly, you know, people under the age of 45 or 50 are closer to their educational time of life. So they're a little more comfortable, and familiar, and okay with going back to school and learning new things. But, you know, I'm in my mid-60s, I'm now past my mid-60s and, you know, I'm still learning all the time. And I think one of the things you can do as an HR person is you can create a spirit of re-education and redevelopment of everybody at all ages.

Also, older people have other responsibilities. They may not have as much time at home. They may not know, they might have kids to take care of. They may have other things are getting in the way of re-educating themselves. So you have to give them a little bit of space, and a little bit of time to do this. But, you know, my perspective on this is that human beings are learning animals above all else, that's what we do. And so, when we make it possible for people to learn at all ages, most people will jump at the opportunity and do all sorts of incredible things. So, that's, you know, the way I look at it.


Dr. Buban: Great. I love that. That goes right around with, you know, the adult lifelong learning workforce and how we continue to engage and provide those opportunities for our employees. So, I think another hot... We're hitting on a lot of the hot topics today. So, different generations, DEI, workforce marketplace. We're getting to all of them. And one that I'm very fond of but hear about consistently, whether it's at a conference or in conversation with colleagues is the idea of different types of stackable credentials that are not only credit-bearing at an institution, but are also micro-credential, short bursts of learning, whether it's a certificate, a boot camp. I think all of us have seen this, you know, every day in the news. So, Josh, I'm curious what you're seeing in the marketplace around these credentials. I know there's interest but I guess if you could talk a little bit more to, like, is there uptake at a lot of the companies you're seeing? Are they including it in their policies to be able to use this type of learning?


Josh: Yeah. I mean, so, you know, credentials are good and bad. I mean, the good thing about credentials is they give you a sense of currency about what you're learning, the bad thing is they can be used against you too because, you know, if I don't have this credential, then you mean I can't get this job? What I would recommend HR people do is use whatever credentialing you create as an incentive, and a reward, and a signal to get people to pay attention to the things that matter in the company.

So, there are third-party credential providers who want to make money selling credentials just so you take their courses, or buy their content, or go to their college. I mean, I'm not saying you can do away with that. It is what it is. But inside of a company, if you think quality is a really big deal and you want to create a quality focus, create a quality credential. If you think leadership is an important focus, create a leadership credential. We did this when I worked at IBM and there were all sorts of credentials for things that IBM wanted me to do and I did them. So, it's a great signaling mechanism you have as an HR person and then you can craft that credential to be whatever you want it to be, developmental assignments, courses, tests, you know, reputation by others, and so forth. So that's the way I look at it.


Dr. Buban: So, Josh, I hear you say create your own, is that...? How big of a task is that for a company, and why not go outside to a credential or Coursera or....?


Josh: I'll let you know, if it's a very technical domain and you want a third-party accredited credential, for sure. I mean, that's what SHRM does, that's what we do, that's what a lot of cybersecurity and tech companies do. So I'm not saying that's a bad idea. I think most companies do do that today and they look for those credentials. What I'm saying also that, as an addition to that, you have the opportunity to use the idea to drive the prescribed learning and capabilities you want to build inside of your company. And I see Christy nodding her head, so I want to hear what she has to say.


Christy: I was tracking along, I was like, "Wait, credentials are bad? What am I going to say now?" But, you know, part of what we've done, and particularly around employability and, you know, talking about DEI is realizing that everybody's needs are different. And, you know, what they need at the time or how they learn or what's going to be applicable for them and how much space do they have to consume is going to be different.

So we took a couple of different approaches. One is, you know, democratizing our learning, and particularly our management and learning curriculum, so you didn't have to wait for a workshop or a course. Like, it's modular-based and you can, you know, tap into it when you want to. And to Josh's point around, like, why do you use micro-credentials and how do you help drive what the organization needs? We have focused on six core capabilities. And through those six core capabilities, which know, they're not really deep technical skills. These are future orientation, digital mindset, you know, people focus.

And we took those six and we created sort of three opportunities for our employees to engage. One is a lighter touch. You're going to do an internal training. You might do a virtual, you know, workshop. You could, you know, watch a video. You might read an article. There is also micro-credentials. And this is really the short-term learning best fit. This is about 18 to 24-hour commitment. And, you know, the learning team has curated content from, you know, our educational providers, like an edX, and we've also brought in LinkedIn Learning or Degreed. And so, you're going to read some. You're going to watch some videos, you're going to go deeper.

And then where it is, it's the application. You are going to apply that in a real way within Allstate and submit your learning. And that's actually where your manager and the learning team gets involved to help create that credentialing. And then, of course, you know, I talked about a few minutes ago, our education. So, people can get the full degree. So, you can kind of light touch all the way to, you know, the formal degree, but we have micro-credentials, but they're not unlimited. They are really focused on the six core capabilities that we know we need more of as we advance our transformation.


Josh: Exactly.


Dr. Buban: Really phenomenal work you guys are doing.


Josh: Yeah. And, you know, I think Christy's obviously been doing this for quite some time. But it's not as difficult as you think. The only point I was trying to make is collecting credentials from all sorts of third-party providers doesn't necessarily get your company where you want to go. So, focus on the capabilities that are really important to your organization.


Dr. Buban: And as Christy said, people are curating because there's so much out there. So when the world is your oyster with micro-credentials, it's's a real job to match them to what, say, your six core capabilities would be.


Josh: The other thing to think about is, as far as of an attraction and retention tool, some employees really want certain credentials because it's their career aspiration to be well-known in this thing. So let them get that and then they will stick around for a long time and love your company. So, there's another, you know... It's in some sense can be a benefit too.


Christy: Yeah. And to Josh's point, you know, we have been on this journey around the future of work, which I said, you know, four years ago we identified 11 skills of the future. As we were going through our business transformation, we decided to pause, reflect, and really hone in on the capabilities that we needed in the future, and we landed on six. That was really at the beginning of this year. And, you know, Rose, who leads up our learning, has put these micro-credentials in this year. And so, it isn' know, because we're leveraging content and we're not trying to build our own content, there are going to be specific opportunities where we want to tailor it. But, you know, that's done within this year alone. Now, I'm not going to say that it isn't a heavy lift on the team because, you know, of course, they are doing yeoman's work around it, but it is possible.


Dr. Buban: That's great. This conversation is really so energizing that I hate to see our time winding down. So I just wanted to... We want to pull the audience back in. And while you answer this last poll question for us, audience, I'll wrap one last question up with Josh and Christy, and then we'll move to audience participation.

So, after hearing this conversation, what changes are you considering or are implementing for your organization? And you can check as many that you would like to apply. So, introducing more structured career paths with associated learning, introducing a talent marketplace, overhauling or expanding your education assistance program, offering a no-cost degree option, adding student loan repayment, or none of these. So we'll give you a few minutes while Christy and Josh, I'll ask you, you know, if you have one key takeaway from today or from all your learning and experience in this area, what takeaway would you leave our audience today? Josh, I'll start with you.


Josh: Okay. Well, you know, yesterday, somebody asked me a very difficult question to answer, which was, you know, what is the one thing that HR people are doing wrong that you would like to tell them about? So, I couldn't think of it very well at the time, but it came to me after a few minutes. I think the big thing we're learning about the workforce and about people is that human beings are infinitely adaptable.

Here, we've just had two years of the worst global pandemic of our lives. The economy is booming, companies are transforming themselves. There's all these new jobs. Who would have guessed? You would have guessed there would've been a massive recession for the next two years. But no, because people really do adapt. And so, what we need to do in HR is make it easy for people to move and adapt and change and educate themselves. And when you do that, great things happen. And that's really, to me, a big lesson.


Christy: Boy, I like that. That's great.


Christy: Jill, one of the things from where I started when I was leaning into talent management and talent development, and where I am today is, I think it's so important that I understand the business strategy and that I tie my strategy to that strategy and embed it into the flow of work. It is really important that it isn't something that just is another checklist to do, you know, that it is part of your culture, you know, and the expectation that you have for leaders and for employees that you are continuously evolving. Your business can't survive without it.


Dr. Buban: Yeah, that's a great place for us to transition to questions, because you hit something, I think, that's hitting home for a lot of people. It's, you know, the culture of the organization. And today, as we're remote or thinking about going back to the workforce, these educational benefits can really help maintain that culture and the vision for the organization, for the company. I think that's so important right now.

So, well, I'm just going to give our poll results. It looks like almost 63% of you said that introducing more structured career paths with associated learning would be a change you'd be considering. So, yeah, introducing a talent marketplace and overhauling or expanding education assistance, those are our top three, but that more structured career paths seems to be a big one. And we've been hearing a lot about that out too. I see Josh shaking his head. So, I'd love...we have about 10 minutes left. I'm hoping we get some really great questions from the audience. I know we've gone over a lot today. So, please...


Josh: There's a bunch in here. I've been sort of looking through them. There's 29 sitting in the inbox.


Dr. Buban: We have a little behind the scenes magic of how your questions are coming in to us. "So, for talent share, how do you determine who is selected for the project? Is there any interview process for those opportunities?" So, I guess, Christy, can you take that up?


Christy: Yeah, for the talent share, which just want to remind the audience that this is sort of the short-term assignment, not the full-time job. Managers post those, and they actually interview the employees who post, you know, apply for those and they select it. So HR isn't necessarily involved in that. We have a self-service process. Managers post for that, they interview, and they select the employee. For our enterprise talent marketplace, where we post jobs all the way up to Vice President, our recruiters handle those processes like any other, you know, requisition.


Josh: I was saying, the other companies I've talked to also that have talent marketplaces is very, very similar. It's really the managers' decision. And what most companies tell me is these talent marketplaces are really the people system. They're really the system for the employees. They're not run by HR and managed by HR. So, like I said, it's more like Airbnb than you might imagine.


Christy: Well, and when you're a big company like Allstate, and you have 50,000 employees spread around, you know, globally. Sometimes what we were trying to do is get managers to see the possibility within the broader ecosystem, not just what's in their downline. Because sometimes, you know, they didn't either want to tap somebody within their team or go external to the market, when we knew that we had employees who would either grow and develop from that experience or bring skills that could help that team, you know, advance their goals.


Dr. Buban: Great. And we're getting other...another question I'll jump a little because we do only have a few minutes. We didn't ask anyone to prepare for this, but there are a lot of questions on retaining talent when you provide education. Do either of you...? I mean, Allan, maybe you have some more global numbers, if we're seeing any evidence, hard evidence, or, Christy, maybe you have something with Allstate?


Christy: Yeah, I mean, what I can tell you, and I think there was a slide on this a little earlier, but when we have our employees in their program, so, you know, when they first apply to their tuition assistance program, we know like a year later, 87% of our employees are still in that program and still working at Allstate. So, you know, I don't have the real numbers of where they are two to three years or four years down the path. But that's a recent statistic I can share today.


Josh: Well, and I have data on exit interviews, and if you look at why people leave companies and all the questions that people ask, and the answers they get, the number one reason people leave is some comment like, "I wasn't going anywhere. I wasn't getting ahead. I wasn't progressing. I wasn't learning anything." So there's lots of indications that this is a huge retention program, training people, educating people. And it's sort of obvious if you think about it. Why would you leave a company if the company is helping you grow?


Dr. Buban: I'm glad you mentioned that, Josh, because there's a couple of questions on, it looks like, how do you balance the possibility that you upskill employees and then they leave your organization? But from what I'm hearing is...


Josh: I got that message. I got that question yesterday. That is sort of an insane question. These people, they're not slaves. They don't work for you under your conditions. They work for you under their conditions. They've decided to come work for you because it's in their best interest. So it's in your best interest to take care of them. If you educate them and they get really, really good at their jobs and they leave, that's just part of life. But holding back on education and training because you think they're going to leave, just to me is just backwards thinking.


Dr. Buban: And I also think it's...I mean, it's secondary or tertiary, but that employee has a... I don't know, is reminded of that benefit and is likely to speak highly of their time at that organization and that company and talk about those benefits that really behooved them.


Josh: Yeah. I would never worry about that problem. That's not the problem you're going to run into. You're going to have the opposite problem much, much more frequently, where somebody is not being developed and then they leave.


Dr. Buban: Yeah.


Christy: Yeah. And I'm guessing a lot of companies depend on employee referrals, you know, as part of their recruitment strategy. And, you know, that is a wonderful source for us. And, you know, I think it's a great testament if...of course, I don't want somebody to leave. But if they leave and they said, like, "I got this job because of my experience at Allstate," then, you know, I guess my job as a leader is to develop them to reach their aspirations. And while I hope it's at Allstate, if it isn't, and I played a part in that, then I feel like I've done my job.


Dr. Buban: Well, thank you, Josh and Christy, so much. This was really fun today, and I hope our audience learned a lot. I know I learned a lot. I am going to wrap this up and hand the baton back over to Mike at SHRM. But thank you so much, and thank you, audience, for attending. We are thrilled to host this event.


Christy: Thank you.

About the Speakers

Maribeth Bearfield at Bright Horizons

Maribeth Bearfield joined Bright Horizons in 2017 as SVP, HR and Chief Human Resources Officer. Maribeth brings a background as an educator and more than 25 years of human resources experience to her writing. Prior to joining Bright Horizons, Maribeth served as CHRO at Kaseya Corporation and Hanover Insurance, and as Chief Talent Officer at State Street. Maribeth has also held positions at Cisco Systems, Oracle and GTE.

Christy Harris, SVP of Human Resources, Chief Talent Officer Allstate

Christy Harris is the vice president for talent management, benefits, and inclusive diversity at Allstate Insurance Company. In this role, Christy is responsible for delivering best-in-class recruiting, sourcing, consultation and employment branding to attract top talent, while providing an excellent candidate and hiring manager experience. She is also responsible for the continued advancement of Allstate’s Inclusive Diversity efforts along with Allstate’s approach to enterprise learning and talent management. These roles are key to delivering on Allstate’s talent strategies.

Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst

Josh Bersin founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide research and advisory services focused on corporate learning. He expanded the company’s coverage to encompass HR, talent management, talent acquisition and leadership, emerging as a recognized expert in the talent market. Bersin sold the company to Deloitte in 2012. In 2019, Bersin founded the Josh Bersin Academy, a professional development academy which has become the “home for HR”. He is frequently featured in publications including Forbes, Harvard Business Review, HR Executive, The Wall Street Journal and CLO Magazine.