How do you use a global pandemic to reassess the nature of work and your role as an employer?

IKEA and Implement Strategy

16 April 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic left many businesses wondering whether what they do – and how they do it – is relevant and future-proof. INGKA, the biggest franchisee within the IKEA universe with 160,000 employees across 30 countries, felt an acute need to rethink their position considering retail was one of the industries most disrupted by the pandemic.

When considering the ongoing global trends shaping the economy of tomorrow – from societal and demographic changes to climate movements, technology and digitalisation as well as the nature of work itself – it is clear that the requirement for continuous transformation is here to stay. We need to learn to live in the unknown in a different way and always look ahead to explore the future.

The challenge

For INGKA, being the large employer that they are, the decision was made to strengthen their long-term capabilities, side with their many co-workers and ultimately have a positive impact as a unique employer. Learning and development for the future got a new meaning. Practically, they were committed to:

  1. Revolutionising their learning landscape, opening up the capabilities for massive online learning through the creation of a dedicated multi-year Learning Academy.

  2. Upskilling and reskilling their co-workers with the aim of securing as many jobs as possible for as long as possible, strengthening long-term employability and accelerating the creation of new jobs.

In order to really understand the point of departure and chart the most ambitious and relevant future direction, extensive research was conducted to provide both internal and external perspectives. These included interviewing 100+ colleagues, surveying 500+ workers, analysing relevant data, reviewing the existing learning landscape and talking with thought leaders. Based on these insights, the following challenge questions were identified to help make the most strategically important choices:

  1. How can we predict upcoming workforce changes and skills requirements, making it transparent which jobs and skills will be arising and which will become obsolete? How do we bring this knowledge to strengthen employability of the many as well as our business?

  2. How can we meet the challenge of critical talent and skills scarcity while mid- to low-skilled workers will increasingly risk being left outside the job market?

  3. How do we meet the needs of the highly diverse workforce and create the optimal work environment of the future?

  4. How can we develop INGKA’s learning capabilities to meet the exponentially growing need for upskilling, multiskilling and reskilling? How do we create a lifelong learning culture strengthening our long-term capabilities and the employability of the many?

  5. How do we create a better balance between a structural and human approach in our transformation journey, building on our heritage, culture, values and humanistic approach? How can we help our co-workers to take a bigger part in shaping the future for our business and for themselves?

  6. How can we create a more agile, adaptable and resilient INGKA meeting the needs for a more flexible workforce and ways of working with more space and trust to act and take responsibility close to operational business?

The solution

Through workshopped solutions to these strategic questions and based on IKEA’s brand heritage and key values, it was decided that the right way to look at the Future of Work was as an honest, almost intimate relationship between an employer and its co-workers. It was about rethinking the relationship between co-workers and stakeholders, because things can only be done together. Practically, the way forward consisted of:

  1. Becoming an iconic learning organisation and creating a lifelong learning culture
  2. Putting people in the centre of their transformation
  3. Empowering talent and building trustful partnerships …

… which will be supported by eight jointly developed strategic initiatives, including:

  1. Learning vision and concepts – ensuring co-workers’ skill set and employability for the future with a focus on awareness, lifelong learning skills, coaching, personal plan and learning paths.

  2. INGKA Academy – a self-sustaining, cost-neutral academy built on an easily accessible platform (a long-term competitive advantage).

  3. INGKA Business Learning – a world-class learning content portfolio ensuring optimal conditions for everyday self-led learning in the business.

  4. External upskilling and reskilling programmes – partnering with external providers who strengthen employability within areas outside of INGKA.

  5. Future workforce planning – planning the future workforce as an integrated part of the transformation and business agenda (transparent, humanistic and data-driven; securing talent prediction and access).

The impact

The strategic initiatives are currently being implemented with the development of new learning academies and platforms being pursued through a mix of M&A and internal development. Overall, the initiatives are supporting INGKA and IKEA to continue living their founder’s dream and values in the ever-changing world – being fit for the future by being fit for humans.

Related0 4