Sun Life pilots ‘internal gigs’ to upskill employees

Post-pandemic, companies will have to define the nature of work, who to hire as workers, and how to nurture their growth, according to panelists at a Sept. 7 webinar organized by Sun Life Asia Service Centre, a business processing provider for insurance company Sun Life.  

“How do we leverage other types of talent? Other than full-time workers, are we open to gig workers, outsourced workers, retirees?” said Helen Peng, vice president for talent acquisition and development of Sun Life Canada.   

“Today, we have a concept of a job with set tasks,” Ms. Peng continued. “In the future… some parts of the job can be done by AI [artificial intelligence], some by humans, and some incorporated into other workstreams.”  

Although Sun Life uses bots, they aren’t meant to replace humans, said May Sunega, head of human resources (HR) and communications at Sun Life Asia Service Centre – Philippines. 

“The intent is to carve out more time for humans in the organization, to allow them more time to connect with each other and do meaningful work,” Ms. Sunega said.  

Employees who engage with chatbots, for example, will still be attended to by flesh-and-blood HR personnel down the line.  

“The fear of bots replacing humans is unfounded,” she said. Be that as it may, both employees and job seekers need to proactively upskill and reskill. “Skill is the currency of the talent marketplace,” Ms. Peng said. “It will get you far if you build versatility and experience.”   

Ms. Peng advised trying gig work: “You might find huge potential there. It’s like going to the gym and finding muscles you never thought you had.”  

Sun Life is piloting a program that allows “internal gigs” for its company employees, helping them develop diverse skills and exposing them to different domains within the organization.  

FASTER FEEDBACK  

For Sun Life Indonesia president Elin Waty, the pandemic created a faster feedback mechanism. Gone are the days where performance evaluations were conducted once every six months.  

The way forward is to focus on key results, which are incremental indicators on whether an objective is on its way to being achieved.  

For example, increasing sales by 50% over a quarter can be broken down into three key results: launching two new products; ensuring at least 10% of sales come from upselling; and hiring 100 new advisors.  

“It’s like baking a cake,” Ms. Waty told the webinar audience. “In the past, the manager only sees the cake when it’s ready. Nowadays, he and you will have a sit-down more often… [so you can say] I need this much flour.”  

Correction and appreciation come faster as well. “Communication becomes more open, and the conversation becomes more meaningful,” said Ms. Waty. — Patricia B. Mirasol

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