Employee Value Propositions and Digital Upskilling

Navigate Disruption Podcast

Episode 08 – June 2023

The world has changed, and organisations need to ensure that they align the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to a fast-paced, digital, constantly changing working environment. This is what attracts and retains talent. Flexibility, adaptability, and future-focus are important concepts to embrace and ensure that productivity remains high. Mick Burn, our EMEA Partner in Infosys Consulting’s Talent and Organisational practice, speaks with Christi Stern about why an EVP is important, what it actually means to have one, and what an EVP can do for employees and organisations.


Introduction – Christi Stern
Hi and welcome. This podcast is aimed to help organizations operate stronger and prepare quickly for the future with a focus on the digital business agenda.

I’m Christi Stern. And I’m here today with Mick Burn. We are with Infosys Consulting and part of the talent and organization practice. We’re excited to speak with you today about digital upskilling.

Before we dive in, I’d like to set some context for today’s chat. We’ll be talking about employee value proposition or EVP. This is a measurable set of benefits that employers offer, including financial rewards, personal development, and other benefits in exchange for employees’ skills and experience. The goal of an EVP is to get people excited about joining a company and very importantly, retain talent, which can help build the employer’s brand.

Christi Stern
Hi, Mick, thanks for being here today. What are your thoughts on employee value proposition? And how has it evolved most recently?

Mick Burn
Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me today. So interesting question. Employee value proposition is something that is very important to most of the organizations, if not all, the organizations that we work with today.

Over the years, employee expectations have increased significantly. I mean, we look back through past generations, the focus, or the reason for being at work, was around job security, a job for life. And we see that today the expectations and the priorities of employees have changed. Today, it’s a fluidity of jobs and fluidity of roles throughout a career. And if you understand that an individual may have many careers, we’re seeing also an overlap of roles as well.

In the past, where we’ve had individual front-end or back-end developers, now you’re seeing more of a need for a full stack developer. Or for instance, we may have had somebody who’s just worked in the IT departments for all their life, we are now seeing people moving into business and back into IT – and making that jump many times throughout their career.

So, it’s important that organizations recognize the needs and aspirations of their employees and allow them to have the opportunity to move around.

I think some of the other drivers, Christi, are that employee expectations have changed. You know, we now are in a world where we get fantastic consumer level experience at home. And we also expect that in the workplace: we want that phenomenal, digital personalized experience in terms of everything that we do.

And we want to, in the flow of work, add our fingertips on any device at any time – and for it to be able to transfer from mobile to laptop to telephone, or speaking to an individual and be able to pick up the flow of whatever activity we’ve been working on.

I think one of the other drivers as well is around the rise of the gig economy. Now, employees’ expectations in terms of when they work and how they work have changed. We’ve seen that double in the last three years with the rise of the gig economy; people want flexibility in terms of the location that they’re working, they want flexibility in terms of working hours. We’ve got employees who are working four days a week, because on a Friday, they want to work from their friend’s garage to work on a startup. So, we need to be able to accommodate for that level of flexibility.

I think all of that together has led to an enhanced employee experience. But this doesn’t need to be negative for the for organizations. I think as organizations, if we embrace employee value proposition, as many of our clients are beginning to recognize and accommodate, it leads to improvements of productivity, improvements for performance of not just the employee, but also the organization. So, from our perspective, it’s a win win for everyone concerned.

Christi Stern
One thing that you said that was very interesting was that we see a growing overlap between roles that were formerly distinguished. How do you see this developing on an industry level?

Mick Burn
Well, interesting question. I think firstly, developing an appealing employee value proposition is crucial for organizations. And really, organizations need to be competitive in today’s war for talent an allow individuals to move around and have new roles throughout their career. You’ve got to be able to provide an environment where you can continue to learn, develop and build new skill sets on a continuous basis.

There’s a significant focus on the need for organizations to provide digital reskilling and provide the basics around digital capabilities and digital knowledge. We look to 2025 and the World Economic Forum has indicated that there’ll be 85 million new jobs in technology. And at the same time, the time to master those skills is dramatically reduced. You know, we often used to talk in consulting about the 10,000-hour rule, the Malcolm Gladwell rule: it would take 10,000 hours to master a new skill. You know, I don’t think that time will still exist, Christi. It’s very easy now to be able to pick up and develop new skills very quickly through leveraging digital technologies.

I think digital tech plays a huge role in helping employees to achieve their ambitions and to rescale and continue to rescale their capabilities. Employees can consume content themselves and move away from the top-down compliance based formal learning into more of an informal learning, where employees are consuming content, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

And we’re also seeing that the set of skills required for organizations are changing as well; there are a new set of digital skills that are emerging. And a lot of digital natives who are entering the workplace have already been there, they’ve been working and operating that way all their lives. There’s a new level set in terms of digital competency within individuals who are entering the workplace. So, I think a lot of our existing workforce need to be able to catch up, build those basics around coding, around analytics, around artificial intelligence, machine learning, design, thinking, innovation. So, there are there is a need for individuals to continue to consume this content.

And we also need to make time as organizations to identify what their skills are today. But more importantly, what are the digital skills that are needed for tomorrow? What do you need for your organization to be successful in three, five, 10 years’ time, and start to build and buy those skills now. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re working in, whether it’s banking, oil, and gas, pharmaceuticals manufacturing; what are the core competencies, the core digital skills that I need my employees to have in tomorrow’s world? And how can we start to make plans to move towards and develop those skills today?

The final point I’d add here is that the organization needs to embrace hybrid learning. The old ways of face-to-face learning and coaching and peer-to-peer are still very powerful means of learning, and we don’t want to throw those away. But we need to supplement them with digital experiences, and really help employees to move towards more of a self-service culture; where they’re absorbing, consuming content in a range of formats to reinforce the messages and reduce the time to master those skills.

Christi Stern
I also really like the sustainability factor that you’re talking about there. Especially from the organization’s perspective that making and building skills is just as important as looking outwards, because a lot of times from what I understand companies cannot afford new talent, so need this ability to grow from within. It’s very inspiring, and something that I think we all want to be a part of. It absolutely sounds like companies need to combine the leading technologies with the best people, and upskilling has many benefits. What role does technology play in delivering what employees need to them?

Mick Burn
Technology has a massive role to play in helping to move towards digital re-skilling and enhancing the employee value proposition. As I’ve said already, the traditional face-to-face learning, compliance-based learning, is still powerful. Those things are not going away; they are still important, there is still an important attribute in terms of how we drive learning, but we need to embrace digital technology to move towards that self-service personalized learning.

And a structured approach has been proven to be the best way forward, embracing face-to-face, digital and other channels. We need to move towards more of an omnichannel environment where people are having that personalized experience; they’re able to consume content on their mobile phone on the way to work and then pick up exactly where they left off during their lunch break, and then pick up again after they’ve put the kids to bed in the evening. It needs to have that phenomenal experience to allow people to want to come back and to consume content.

And there are many technology vendors today who are offering LX, PS learning experience platforms; I think of it as a Spotify or a Netflix concept for learning. So, you’ve got these tools that are enabled to harvest data in the backend and provide that hyper personalized experience for the user. It knows who you are, it knows what you like, it knows what level you’re in, it knows what jobs you’re doing, it knows what jobs you want to do in three, four, five, 10 years’ time. So, you’re able to enter and populate the roles and career aspirations. And then receive nudges and content that is applicable for where you are today. But more importantly, where you want to get to for tomorrow. At Infosys, we’ve got a learning experience platform that we’ve developed, a tool called Wingspan, that allows us to achieve those capabilities.

There are also many other organizations and partners that we have in the wider learning ecosystem. For instance, there are leading tools such as EdCast, such as Degreed, and we highly recommend those vendors as well. A lot of these organizations are leveraging some of the digital technologies that are coming through today; as I mentioned already, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and we’re also seeing the rise of chatbot technology and ChatGPT. These are really helping to accelerate and expedite surfacing relevant content to individuals at the right time. We’re seeing the rise of avatars and virtual reality, augmented reality, to help make that learning experience more fun and more engaging. Digital learning assistance, like Siri or Siri Help on Demand, enable you to consume that content and get the answers to the questions exactly when you need them.

So really, to summarize, it’s about having that seamless experience, always-on learning, and making learning fun – something that you don’t just do once a year or once a quarter. It’s something that you’re doing every day with bite sized learning, micro learning in small chunks. But you never stop learning – how we used to learn when we were kids at school – and you’re continuing to develop. So, I think technology has a massive role to play. And we’re already seeing many of our clients and ourselves at Infosys embrace that technology to make a marked difference in terms of how our employees can focus on their career development and, more importantly, have that fantastic employee value proposition.

Christi Stern
Well, from what I understand, it’s also extremely inclusive, because this is the language that the digital natives are speaking; this is their world and reality already. And by having personalized journeys, as you mentioned, we include those non-natives and help them to learn, unlearn, relearn – I think this is a skill we all need to become experts.

Mick Burn
Absolutely right, Christi. And within Infosys we move beyond our organization and corporations. For instance, we’ve set up several pilot programs with some of the UK Government councils. We’ve been helping to roll out digital-first skills as a not-for-profit initiative to really help to build the capabilities of some of the underprivileged communities in the UK. We’re also doing a similar concept in India as well. And we are partnering with many of our vendors, like EdCast and Degreed, to make sure that content is free for all. It should be readily available, so all individuals are able to consume that basic knowledge, the fundamentals of digital, and the technology capabilities to have a common platform for everyone.

I think by leveling the playing field, we’re going to see innovation from a lot of new players and new spaces. So that one day it really helps to create that – we coined the phrase – citizen development. The more people who understand digital technologies, the more that we’re able to improve our world going forward.

Christi Stern
Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Mick, wonderful conversation. And thanks to our listeners for tuning in. Please join us again next time to learn more about how organizations are adapting today for tomorrow.

Hosts: Mick Burn and Christi Stern
Production: Simone Vorster and Christi Stern
Editing: Max Russell

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