Blog Upskilling/Reskilling Highlights from the CHRO Boston Summit: “The Role of HR in Times of Crisis and Change”

Highlights from the CHRO Boston Summit: “The Role of HR in Times of Crisis and Change”

Being a Chief Human Resources leader (CHRO) has not been easy in the last few years — navigating the pandemic, the great recession, social justice, political turmoil, and even war. CHROs need new ways to address the challenges while still being able to pivot and adapt to the future of their talent, strategy and business needs.

Future of the CHRO Role

In June 2022, Udacity’s CHRO, Dana Bennett moderated a panel for the Evanta CHRO Boston Summit — “The Role of HR in Times of Crisis and Change” — at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.  Dana was joined by industry leaders in the including:

  • Janice Deskus – CHRO, Staples
  • Jez Langhorn – CHRO, Global Partners LP
  • Alexandre-Pierre Mery – Senior HR Leader-Corp Finance and Digital Technology, GE Power

Leaders must build a culture of trust, empathy, and partnership. This is done by getting into the trenches and learning about what employees need to do their jobs.  A recent Washington Post article shows the impact of over 10 million jobs open right now. This staggering number points to a timely convergence of how organizations and leaders need to think about the importance of retaining critical skills during the era of the Great Resignation. 

Employees are the backbone of your organization and without the trust and buy in you risk them leaving. Dana enjoys leading the Udacity team, “At the end of the day, I’m happy to be leading the people team for an organization that is solving the problem I’ve been solving my entire career.” Here are some of Dana’s takeaways from the summit:

  • Close the gap between leadership and employees. Organizations should encourage and support professional development to keep their workforce sharp and on top of the latest in their field. You don’t have to look externally. In this market, completely lean into your talent; they already know the culture, product and know everything to be a truly invested member of the organization.
  • Lean in and leverage the employees “solving” the problems. Having open communication and the ability to side step office politics is the difference in what leadership gives vs. what the employees need.  A simple tweak can make a huge difference.
  • Leverage the talent you already have. Employee retention from a little change can make a big difference. It’s not the compensation that keeps employees, but the engagement and development opportunities. Organizations have tried everything from bonuses to time off and more, but what employees really want is to be paid equitably!

In this time of “The Great Resignation” organizations must step back and take a look at what they are sharing and NOT sharing with employees.  They need to decrease the gap and find the “hidden gems” within their walls. Those people are not necessarily the most outspoken and lively, but in the right environment may reveal the missing piece to a puzzle.

Do. Fail. Get Feedback. Repeat.

Tim Hannan, Udacity Senior Enterprise Account Executive had a few takeaways including telling CHRO’s to “Do. Fail. Get Feedback. Repeat.”  This is how you learn what works and what to leave behind.  Here are some more of Tim’s takeaways from the summit: 

  • There’s a disconnect between an organization’s goals and the processes and resources they have in place.  Leaders want to slow attrition, attract talent, and move digital skills forward. Organizations lack resources and partnerships to accomplish this (this is the gap) This is where Udacity can step in and help organizations. (Tim said to contact him!)
  • Training is necessary, learning is transformational. Most companies do training very well, they don’t do learning well. It empowers your employees to step up and confidently do what needs to be done in order to accomplish the task.
  • Are you measuring your impact? Look at what you are doing; is it measurable and digitally impactful? If you are not pushing your workforce into the future, you will suffer the same fate as the many companies that didn’t innovate like Blockbuster, Borders and Toys R Us.

Reskilling is the Future

In a recent McKinsey report, by 2030, over 50% of the jobs that we currently see will disappear. “Reskilling is the future.” says Kyle Regan, Udacity Regional Vice President, East. Udacity’s core competencies focus exclusively on in-demand digital technologies and ensure workplace relevance.  Some of Kyle’s takeaways from the summit:

  • Organizations are struggling to retain employeesIncreased workloads and pandemic stress has caused many employees to rethink why they align themselves with  a particular company. 
  • Think outside the box. HR leadership is implementing new policies around hybrid and remote work, and hiring or reducing headcount.
  • Leadership needs to OVER communicate with employees. Keeping your employees abreast of what’s happening helps to reduce anxiety and guessing. If your employees don’t know what is happening, they may assume the worst and jump ship. Keep them in the loop and be open to suggestions as your employees are driving your business.

Facing Challenges in 2022 and Beyond

Going forward, CHRO leadership will continue to face a changing landscape. In the 2022 Gartner HR report learn more about how organizations will need to be innovative and creative with issues like DEI, skill building, workplace health.

Learn more about Udacity’s Job-ready digital talent with infinite results and how we are partnering with organizations to close their talent gap.

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