Should you train your staff for their future job?

Instead of just teaching workers the role they were hired to do, this award-winning company looks to what comes next

Should you train your staff for their future job?
It’s one thing to teach staff how to do their job. It’s another to teach them the role they could be doing next – and to keep them learning.

But investing in the latter is a priority for LoyaltyOne, the company behind loyalty programs like Air Miles.

Regarded as one of Canada’s best employers, LoyaltyOne offers its employees – known as associates – an extensive career and talent development program, alongside substantial benefits, rewards and recognition endeavours.

LoyaltyOne’s associate vice president of talent management Dimitri Benak says when hiring, the company seeks talent with “learning agility” – who can not only do the role they’re being hired for, but continue to move on and up, and take on other assignments within the organization.

To teach them to do so, the company has a massive array of resources, including a learning management system with more than 6000 web-based courses and thousands of books, reports and other documents.

“At the pace at which technology is changing, nothing stays still anymore, and in order to stay relevant and stay current, you need to access real-time learning,” Benak says.

Alongside its own resources, LoyaltyOne is using the Degreed social learning platform, which lets staff associates curate their own learning according to where their skills or knowledge gaps are.

“Traditionally, when we think of learning and development, maybe you might think of an in-class type of development program. [Degreed] enables someone to have access to learning resources that are a TED Talk, Harvard Business Review, some of them might even be on YouTube, and as you explore and find rich content that you think is worth sharing, you can create learning groups within an organization and share that out to [them].”

However, Benak adds, staff learning isn’t limited to online content, or in-class sessions: the company also emphasizes making connections and learning from others.

Staff might learn from a stretch assignment, or from being partnered up with someone else in the company that has a skill set they want or need to learn.

Each year, LoyaltyOne’s associates identify new goals for their individual development plans. They can use the company’s new online career development program to help map out career pathways, including lateral or stretch roles, with the system giving an indication of how ready they might be for those positions, and what skills and experience they still need to gain.

The program also points them to the person who already holds they’re aiming for aiming for, “so they can go have a coffee and just talk about ‘what’s been your career story and your path to here’,” Benak says.

To help them on their career trajectory, staff can also get up to $3000 of study reimbursed, whether it’s university, college or courses towards their professional designations.

It might seem like a lot of time, expense and effort on LoyaltyOne’s part, but Benak says the career and talent development program is fuelled by the staff’s desire to learn.

“There is a real desire across our associates to be challenged. Folks want to realize their potential, and they’re asking for it.”

Related stories:
How simulations bring L&D to life
How to develop high potential talent in the workplace

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