Gena Smith is CHRO of LVMH North America.
Upskilling has transformed from a choice to a necessity as job roles are redefined by hybrid and remote work models and shifts in technology. Industries need a talent pool with the competencies to help them rise to the occasion.
Recognizing the importance of staying ahead of evolving demands, individuals and businesses alike are acknowledging the importance of continuous learning: It serves as the linchpin for both organizational competitiveness and individual career longevity. This fundamental shift requires a collective commitment to upskilling.
At LVMH, we are committed to staying close to our employees through meaningful touchpoints associated with their professional journeys. And we’ve found that these touchpoints are a critical piece of the LVMH architecture which was designed with the intent to connect and motivate employees to explore the bespoke learning and development programs we offer. In doing so, we are able to develop a strong culture of learning while simultaneously growing the leadership capability of our employees across the organization and our Maisons, or brands.
While the needs and expectations of industry and employees continue to evolve, employers can adopt several guiding principles to navigate this new reality.
Align upskilling with organizational needs
The success of upskilling initiatives hinges on strategic alignment with organizational needs. For employees to acquire the relevant skills and knowledge that directly contribute to a company’s overarching growth objectives, organizations must be proactive and thorough in assessing current and future needs and how they respond to them. This involves identifying emerging technologies, industry trends and potential skill gaps within the workforce.
At LVMH, the Métiers d’Excellence program — an apprenticeship program designed to train the next generation of creative and craftspeople across Maisons — was established in the U.S. in 2022 in collaboration with Tiffany & Co. to instill trainees with the artisanal excellence and savoir faire for which LVMH is known.
With a growing number of apprentices, first in New York, and now in Rhode Island, the program also focuses on attracting diverse candidates who can help ensure the continued success of the luxury goods industry. By delving into the skills apprentices acquire and the deliberate selection of cohorts, LVMH’s approach underscores the vital intersection of organizational and individual needs.
When businesses adopt upskilling programs that ladder up to organizational requirements, companies can tailor their training efforts to address changes in the workforce and seize opportunities, like diversifying their talent network which is proven to spur greater innovation and strengthen a company’s bottom line. This targeted approach not only enhances the overall skill set of the workforce but also fosters a more responsive and adaptable organizational culture.
Proactively identify and engage prospective talent
Effective talent acquisition is critical to organizational success across industries. And with a multi-generational workforce — baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z — organizations have an opportunity to tap into diverse talent pools through highly customized programming that meets candidates where they’re at in their career journeys.
For example, our INSIDE LVMH program — initially a virtual-only offering — has evolved into an in-person, omnichannel program to create stronger connections with students, graduates and early-career professionals. This proactive strategy identifies and engages with talent earlier, creating a seamless connection between education and industry, fostering a robust pipeline of skilled individuals to sustain the future of the luxury industry.
It is up to organizations to recognize and leverage the unique strengths, perspectives and skills each generation brings to the table. Tailoring resources and programming to appeal to a broad range of age groups ensures a rich blend of experiences and ideas within the workplace. Moreover, fostering an inclusive environment that values the contributions of individuals from different generations enhances creativity and innovation and cultivates a culture of mutual learning and mentorship. Learning and development initiatives should be designed to resonate with the preferences and expectations of diverse age groups, promoting engagement and commitment among all employees.
Customize programs to meet specific organizational needs
“Upskilling” is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Organizations must be proactive and intentional with their investment into tailored programs that mirror their workforce’s specific goals and aspirations. LVMH’s THINK Retail program epitomizes this commitment to individual growth.
THINK Retail is a selective internal development program curated for each individual talent, and geared toward those leading the most complex-sized stores across all of the organization’s product categories, providing those from the retail side of the business with the opportunity to pursue their professional aspirations. By understanding the evolving landscape and employee interests, LVMH ensures that skills match with future demands and employee needs. This approach sets the stage for employee engagement, retention and innovation.
Personalized development plans, mentorship initiatives and skill-building programs address individual strengths and areas for improvement and contribute to a more engaged and motivated workforce. Simultaneously, these initiatives should be built into the broader organizational strategy, ensuring that individual growth fits in seamlessly with the company’s objectives. By fostering a culture of ongoing development and adaptability, organizations can enhance their agility and competitiveness.
In the face of ongoing workforce changes, organizations cannot afford to neglect upskilling initiatives. At LVMH, learning and development programs are not just investments but integral to the evolution of our Maisons and the entire luxury industry. This fundamental belief led us to create an entirely separate aspect of our work — LVMH House, our global learning and development center — that’s solely focused on cultivating these opportunities to sustain the evolution of our Maisons regionally and the health and growth of our business overall.
Organizations across industries should consider adopting similar infrastructures given their immense value-add. Thoughtful programming will enhance employee engagement and retention while also driving innovation that allows organizations to stay competitive in a highly dynamic marketplace.