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BEST Winners Plan for the Future

Monday, July 20, 2020

Preparing for tomorrow's workplace helps the BEST stand out.

The Association for Talent Development's research report The Future of Work: Technology, Predictions, and Preparing the Workforce found that only about half of all companies have made formal efforts to discuss or plan for the future of work. In contrast, all the 2020 BEST Award–winning organizations have taken such action.


The future of work refers to how advances in technology and transformations in the workplace will affect organizations and industries in broad, sweeping ways and on multiple levels in the coming years.

At the BEST organizations, leaders in talent development and business actively discuss the future of work and develop and execute plans to prepare for it. They also provide employees with key opportunities to upskill themselves for future readiness. Another way BEST winners help drive future business success is by building formal succession plans for key roles and developing and advancing selected employees in the succession pipeline. Further, many have assembled formal working teams or taskforces on the future of work or researched the skills companies in their industry need to thrive in the future.

Oftentimes, programs targeted at upskilling and reskilling are the result of such careful planning. ATD Research has found that upskilling and reskilling programs are associated with better current business performance and future business outlook. Several BEST winners point out that they have formal, structured programs to upskill customer-facing employees so they can transition from more process-driven or transactional work (which is increasingly automated) to more advisory work.

What's more, nearly all (more than 95 percent) of the BEST winners offer tuition reimbursement or coverage programs. Some winners mentioned having formal partnerships with specific universities, colleges, or trade schools. The majority of the winning organizations also offer employees learning paths (or progressive sequences of courses or learning offerings)—often tying the learning paths to skills and capabilities that employees need to move into specific job roles, particularly ones that will be in high demand in the future.

Implementing succession planning initiatives is further evidence of BEST winners looking ahead. The top organizational benefits of succession planning, according to ATD's research in Succession Planning: Ensuring Continued Excellence, are better positioning for future business expansion and growth and ensured continuity.


Among BEST winners, about nine in 10 have succession plans for the CEO or another C-level leader. But succession planning at these organizations extends beyond just top leadership. In fact, more than three-quarters have plans for managers. And two-thirds have succession plans for critical individual contributors with necessary organizational or technical knowledge—a rare practice among nonwinners. What's more, all the BEST winners have formal mentoring or coaching programs, which play a key role in building a strong succession pipeline. ATD's research has identified mentoring and coaching as some of the most effective ways of developing succession candidates.

View the entire list of 2020 BEST Award winners.

BEST profiles written by Stephanie Castellano, Paul Harris, Christine Umbrell, Kristin Davis, Sierra Keat, Colleen Raezler, Erin Strider, and Rich Wellins.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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