Sun Life's 'internal gig' experiment aims to upskill staff

PHILIPPINES: Insurance company Sun Life is piloting an experimental program that allows “internal gigs” for its company employees, helping them to develop diverse skills and exposing them to different domains within the organisation.

“The pandemic is forcing us to rethink the nature of work, who to hire, (and) how to cultivate potential," Helen Peng, Chief HR Officer with Sun Life International Hubs explained in a recent webinar. "How do we leverage other types of talent? Are we doing cross-sourcing? Other than full-time workers, are we open to gig workers, and outsourced workers? Are we engaging boomerang retirees for knowledge transfer?”

Peng is encouraging both employees and job seekers to venture into what she called the "opportunity marketplace" that can provide employees with training opportunities, more rewarding work and increased skillset.

“Skill is the currency of the talent marketplace. It will get you far if you build versatility and experience. You might find huge potential in gig work. It is like going to the gym and finding muscles you never thought you had,” said Peng.

Peng added that the Sun Life experimental program is a proactive move to upskill and reskill the workforce, while enabling employers to discover and nurture versatile talents.

“If an accountant can be an Uber driver during weekends, why not our employees? So we devised mechanics on how our employees can apply for gigs created outside of their job scope. It usually takes 10% to 15% of their capacity and they don’t have to leave their jobs.

"It does require management support and coordination but it is a win for both sides. The gig hosts get to know talents outside their teams or organizations and also get support to alleviate some of the workloads. For the gig employees, they are able to try out different works, build versatility, and most importantly, develop more skills that will lead to more career opportunities,” said Peng.

The program was first tested with the Sun Life HR and Communications teams where it was received with such great interest and positive response that management has decided to roll it out more broadly across the organisation.

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