In equipping our workforce for the industry’s future, we have always strived for a workplace culture where our employees feel engaged, motivated and inspired each day. We listen and respond to their ideas and needs, invest broadly in their development and benefits, and cultivate a diverse, inclusive and collaborative place to work.
In February 2018, MetLife’s global CEO announced a $10 million Workforce of the Future Development Fund. Starting in 2019, new learning programs were launched including digital skills, innovation and collaboration. The goal is to create a culture where continual learning is in the DNA of our daily work life.
What areas are we training staff in at the moment and has this changed as a result of COVID-19?
Employees' success and wellbeing is central to MetLife's talent philosophy. Being a large global employer with a multi-lingual, geographically dispersed workforce, virtual learning has always been a core component of our approach, so we were well-equipped to continue our learning programs when the COVID 19 crisis hit.
At MetLife Australia, we started working from home in March, with the aim of keeping our people safe and healthy, while being able to continue to serve our customers and partners. Our focus since then has been to help our people adjust to both working from home and utilising technology to work effectively.
Key areas of focus have been upskilling people to be able to use technology, and to think differently about the way we work together and with our partners. Our training platform is online, so we already had a way to easily deliver training in a flexible format.
We know that many of our people are juggling work, adapting to the work from home environment and caring for their families. We have embraced our already flexible way of working, to give people the scope to work in a way that suits them and allows them to meet their other demands. That means that training needs to be easy and flexible too, so an online platform with on demand content and courses, as well as live webinars have been essential.
In addition to technical and workplace skills training, the content available to our people has been expanded to include topics such as how to successfully work from home, building resilience, dealing with anxiety and more. We have extensive experience helping our customers during difficult times, with many of them dealing with anxiety and uncertainty, and we’re now applying this expertise to support our own people. We have also included courses and materials specifically related to working from home for example working from home with young children, how to virtually collaborate and how to lead virtual teams.
We’ve also transitioned much of our in-person training to virtual training. We’ve onboarded many new employees remotely, including any technical training they may need and used video conferencing to connect them with their teams.
As a global provider of Life and health solutions, we have also provided our employees live webinars with a medical doctor from International SOS to learn the latest facts and ask questions about COVID-19.
What other interesting ways are we training the MetLife family?
Our online training platform has a number of learning pathways and allows our people to tailor training to suit their role and their ambitions to grow and develop. This gives people access to a broader range of learning opportunities and allows for a more flexible approach to learning. We’ve added a new pathway for Working from Home, and other pathways include Digital Foundations and Data Analytics to prepare our people for the future of work.
The platform also provides varying forms of learning materials including articles, videos, books, podcasts and courses. This ensures we can cater to learning preferences.
As part of managing our working from home communications, we’re doing a daily email from our CEO, Richard Nunn. This is another way we can encourage our people to spend time on their personal and professional development, via an immediate channel that is led from the top.
To help our people stay healthy during this time, we’ve been offering a range of activities online including yoga, HIIT and resilience ‘lunch time’ sessions, all designed to help our people actively manage their health.
This lockdown period has also encouraged us to further develop a virtual onboarding program. One of the biggest changes has been the expectations of people leaders to be connecting with their new starters on a more regular basis as well as instigating a buddy system in order to integrate the new employee as smoothly as possible.
In addition to our staff, we’ve been adapting to support our business partners, who are also dealing with many of the same challenges we are, by leveraging our resources and expertise.
We’ve taken our training sessions with financial advisers online to offer webinars on how to prepare for their FESEA exams, developing a growth mindset and how to underwrite in a pandemic.
We’ve also done research into how Australian’s feel their employer has responded to the COVID-19 situation and what they are concerned about during this time. We’re sharing that insight with our super fund and corporate partners, to help them understand and support their members.
What have you learned from the experience and what’s next?
It doesn’t matter what else is going on, training and development is always important. Even at a time when it might seem impossible, like having everyone away from the office, technology can be leveraged effectively to facilitate learning. Our people appreciate that we are continuing to support them and set them up for successful working from home.
These are unusual times and now more than ever employees need to feel supported. This is a very strong signal to our people that we believe in them and are investing in their future.
We also anticipate continuing to deliver training virtually and flexibly because it is so effective for individual learning preferences.
And finally, we are starting to explore the training needs of our people in the transition back to working from the office. I believe this will be just as important.
Head of People & Culture