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Jeniffer Strub: Why Reskilling and Upskilling Will Define the Future of Work

April 19, 2022 Sponsored Article
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By SMG Events LinkedIn

According to the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, 72% of executives ranked “the ability of their people to adapt, reskill and assume new roles” as the most important or second-most important factor to navigate future disruptions.

As Director of Human Resources for Vyond, Jeniffer Strub understands that keeping their business resilient means filling open roles with people who already have experience with the company and are part of their culture. She believes that in an employees’ job market, it’s up to employers to give their people reasons to stay and grow with the company.  

“The idea is to give people the ability to take part in lots of areas that are outside the scope of their roles, and that they might be passionate about,” said Strub. “That’s really important to getting people engaged and interested in adapting to their current work environment rather than looking outside the company.”

San Mateo, Calif.-based Vyond is an animated video creation platform provider and a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s virtual Digital Workplace Experience (DWX) Conference. On May 4, Vyond's Marketing Communications Manager Kevin Doherty will present the session, “Reskilling Your Workforce with Video.” We spoke with Doherty's colleague Strub about the importance of reskilling and upskilling in today’s job market, and why it’s the key to successfully attracting and retaining the best talent.

Invest in Your People Before Making New Hires

Simpler Media Group: What are some of the trends that have made reskilling and upskilling a priority?

Jeniffer Strub: One of our corporate competencies at Vyond is the ability to reskill and upskill our employees so they can grow with the company. That’s critical when a company is experiencing rapid growth as we are. Rather than hiring new people without experience, investing in our current employees has been critical to our success. Many of the roles at Vyond require prior experience with our company, so there's no better talent to fill them than our existing employees.

SMG: Tell us more about the role diversity plays in reskilling.

Strub: Our goal at Vyond is to be very mindful of our diversity, with the ultimate goal being diversity of thought. It’s that diversity of thought and the ability for people to challenge each other that really leads to success and innovation. When it comes to hiring and mentoring, we want to make sure we’re reaching a broad audience from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds, and that we’re mindful of providing upskilling opportunities for all employees, including people of color who have typically been in entry-level positions in the workforce. At Vyond, we have five generations in this workforce, including an executive team who’s half female and has minority representation.

Diversity is also something we really value with regard to our product itself. We pay close attention to what our customers are looking for, and we try to represent that in our product. For instance, our DEI group works closely with our product development team to ensure that we have inclusive representation in our video assets, which are any of the props, characters or scenes represented in our platform. And we seek that guidance from our employees themselves. We want to make sure that employees feel like they have a voice, and that they’re represented in both our product and in our organization. By making our employees feel valued in this way, they’re more likely to want to explore more opportunities in our organization rather than move to a new company.

SMG: Please discuss the advantages of reskilling versus hiring new workers — both from the organizational and employee perspectives.

Strub: With the pandemic, the landscape has changed significantly. We were a 100% in-office company that has now adjusted to a hybrid model, but we still require some in-office participation. The reason for that is we’re really building a community with our employees. We’re creating a company together and everybody’s job is more than just the sum of their tasks. So, we ask employees to invest their time and frankly take a leap of faith coming into the office when people are a little bit scared to do so. For our part, we show our commitment — not only by keeping them safe, but by investing in them as individuals, including in their future careers.

Jeniffer Strub: "For employees, the top benefits of upskilling and reskilling start with market value. Employers need to explain to their employees how reskilling will improve their value."

For employees, the top benefits of upskilling and reskilling start with market value. Employers need to explain to their employees how reskilling will improve their value. It’s also important for employees to feel that they're learning, adding value and building on their own experiences. Reskilling can help them achieve this.

Show Employees What’s in It for Them

SMG: In the current job market, with workers frequently changing jobs, do you believe employees are more open or less open to reskilling than they would be if jobs were harder to find?

Strub: I think many of us understand that the best way to get a significant increase in salary is to change jobs. At Vyond, we recognize that and are quite open about it. And while we try to position ourselves competitively with regard to compensation, the key selling point for us is the stake that everyone has in this organization. And that includes reskilling and upskilling people who are new to the workforce.

For example, we have people in HR who are working with the product team on scrubbing assets from a DEI perspective. Members of our support team working with our community manager to answer questions from users. And people in marketing who are working with HR to create recruitment videos. It’s important to give employees the opportunity to take part in projects outside their typical role that they might not be able to do in other companies.

SMG: Please discuss how you see most organizations handling reskilling today. Have these efforts been successful? Why or why not?

Strub: I think everyone can agree that reskilling is a good thing to do. And while we know it’s important for the organization to continue to adapt and succeed, companies need to pay more attention to clearly demonstrating to employees what’s in it for them in their current and future roles, even when they leave the company. We don’t expect that every employee is going to be a lifelong employee, but we hope that during the time they’re with us, they give us their best work. In turn, we’ll invest in them, teach them and give them as much opportunity to grow as we can.

Engage and Retain Talent With Video

SMG: Vyond’s presentation covers how video can produce better learning outcomes. Can you discuss the benefits of video over other learning methods?

Strub: With a PowerPoint slide, we can read the words and perhaps digest them easily in the moment, but it doesn’t necessarily stick with the reader beyond viewing that particular slide. With video, however, you can combine images with words, actions and motions and convey not just ideas, but also concepts that will resonate with viewers, and will ultimately be retained longer. You can also create microlearning experiences, engaging learners with smaller segments in easily digestible formats. Video also allows you to create learning on demand materials, giving employees the ability to play the video later and absorb the concepts in a more meaningful way.

SMG: Are there specific examples you can provide that demonstrate the effectiveness of video in reskilling and upskilling?

Strub: From teaching employees about how their medical plan works to training them on specific skills, companies of all sizes use videos created in Vyond to evoke emotions and get their employees thinking about new concepts. For example, Microsoft uses videos to help employees upskill on accessibility in gaming, which proved critical in advancing diversity and inclusion. Brandman University used Vyond to create videos to reskill instructors on digital tools as part of a broader digital transformation initiative. Vyond also created a series of training video templates for managers to specifically upskill their social/emotional intelligence, geared to support employee mental health at the onset of the pandemic.

SMG: For organizations that don’t have a lot of creative expertise available, how can they get started using video for employee training?

Strub: I believe we’re all storytellers in some way. If you can convey a past experience or the story of an interaction with somebody, then you can use video. Many video products are made to be quite simple for people to use. As you start with a scene and think about what you want to say, Vyond provides you with assets, props, and lots of things that you can drag and drop so you can put something on the screen as it pops into your head. This helps you take a historically dry subject and actually put some life into it.

Supplement Technology With the Human Touch

SMG: What does the future of employee training look like to you?

Strub: I see a lot more use of video, but certainly not as a replacement of the human interaction to support it. The ability for people to turn to someone will always be critical. So, while we make use of video and other forms of rich media to help train people, we should always keep employees connected with other people, such as managers, HR leaders or professional coaches. Employees still need that mentor-mentee relationship. Video becomes part of the initial training phase and allows you to have more meaningful discussions. Coaching becomes more impactful because rather than explain concepts, you can discuss how those concepts are relevant to the individual or to their roles.

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