Bringing the Future of Work into Focus

The same technology that is disrupting the workplace – digitization, automation and machine learning, to name a few – is also making it easy to develop the knowledge and skills employees need to adapt to the workplace of the future.

There's no question that technology has – and will continue to – transform the workplace. Digitization, automation and machine learning are already changing how we communicate, perform everyday tasks and think about our career paths. Jobs that are in high demand today could look very different in the not-so-distant future. At the same time, innovation is opening doors for new opportunities and possibilities.

At MetLife, we believe that the best way to stay competitive is to ensure that our most valuable assets – our employees – have the tools, insight and inspiration they need not just to adapt to change, but to lead it.

That’s why, in 2018, we created our own Workforce of the Future development fund and committed $10 million to helping our employees gain the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the digital economy.

As a cornerstone of that initiative, MetLife introduced a new learning and career development platform to employees in November. “This is a much more dynamic offering than what we had previously," explains Chris Smart, head of Global Learning & Development at MetLife. The new MyLearning platform incorporates MetLife's library of unique content with articles, videos, courses and other insights from outside sources, globally. And it's tailored to suit each employee’s unique interests, skillsets and career goals.

“Just as the way we experience entertainment, news and other services has changed, so has learning," says Keegan Bowman, assistant vice president for Workforce of the Future and Learning Culture at MetLife. "We've moved away from the old-fashioned training systems of going to a conference or doing a training program to something that is much more personalized and convenient."

Whether through articles, blog posts, videos, courses or podcasts, there is no shortage of information now available to help our employees glean knowledge or expertise on, well, anything. The challenge, of course, is weeding through this information to find insights that are relevant to each employee’s unique interests. Through a new partnership with lifelong-learning company Degreed, the new platform makes it easy to discover, search and share relevant content — and access it where and when it makes sense to each individual.

Bowman, for example, accesses the learning and career development platform from her desktop. “I might log on in the morning, over lunch, or if I need a break or inspiration during the day," she says.

Recently, her feed included a Coursera course on Leadership through Social Influences from Northwestern University, as well as an in-depth explanation of blockchain. “It's not in my wheelhouse, but I'm learning a lot," she says. While Bowman relies on the new platform to keep her in the loop on the topics relevant to her, she also uses it to save and share articles she finds along the way.

Smart, meanwhile, typically accesses the MyLearning platform from an app on his mobile phone. In the time it might take him to scan the morning news or browse social media, he can read, watch or listen to content focused on his areas of interests, which at the moment includes artificial intelligence, data analytics and learning science.

“The idea here is to build a regular habit around learning, both getting better at the job you've got now and staying ready for other opportunities as they come along," says Todd Tauber, a vice president of marketing at Degreed.

Since the new learning platform sources content from around the globe, it offers MetLife employees the opportunity to learn and explore in their own languages. “A lot of times corporate learning materials are created for one market and simply translated," Smart explains. “The beauty of this approach is people can access articles, courses and other content that is contextualized for their market rather than simply translated."

The first time employees log into the new MyLearning platform, they are prompted to answer some questions on the topics or professional roles that interest them. Employees can rate their skill level to help them in their personal development and track their progress over time. MyLearning will periodically prompt them to reassess their skills or knowledge, and then make recommendations for additional content.

“We sometimes describe it as the difference between using an old-fashioned map and using GPS to get updates and recommendations as you go," says Tauber. “You can get insights about how the learning that you're doing connects to specific goals."

While employees’ own interests are a great place to start, they can also choose to follow colleagues or join groups focused around common interests or subjects. “It resembles a social media feed, where you can see your own feed based on the topics you've chosen, but you can also see what other people are following," says Bowman.

Employees can also read and leave comments about the content, just as they might review a product online. “From a learning science point of view, this helps reinforce what you've learned," says Smart. “It also helps other people decide if the content is relevant to them."

The more employees use the new learning platform, the more personalized their feeds become – both in terms of topics and formats. For employees who prefer podcasts over videos, for example, the platform will adjust their feeds accordingly.

At any point, employees can search on specific skills or browse for other content – including the Future of Work – a curated path that offers a wealth of information focused on how technology is transforming the workplace. “This is all part of an overarching initiative to continue to nurture a culture that emphasizes learning, development and curiosity,” says Smart.

We know the workplace will continue to evolve in the coming years and decades. At MetLife, we’re committed to giving employees the opportunity to hone their expertise, learn new skills and open their minds to what’s possible.