What would your team do with an extra thirty hours? Dig into data they’ve been meaning to analyze? Brainstorm new solutions? Get a jump start on the next big project?
That’s the advantage one of our consulting teams recently had, thanks to a unique approach to upskilling that is more comprehensive than what most organizations are doing (and actually delivers results). This method helped shorten a manual process from two or three hours to less than five minutes. Not only did the team automate a time-draining task, but they also improved the quality of their work by reducing the risk of human error from copying data from one place to another and freed up time to focus on higher-value work.
And it’s no one-off. This culture of continuous improvement and employee-driven solutions is our new normal here at PwC. Think of it as upskilling 2.0: a breakthrough approach built around equal parts leadership and employee crowdsourcing. We’ve seen firsthand that it works. As part of our $3 billion investment to upskill our entire global network, we’re using this people-led approach with our own employees—and we’re getting results. Today, 95% of our 55,000 U.S. partners and staff are using our digital tools and platforms to learn, create, and crowd-source.
So how are we getting results when so many other upskilling initiatives aren’t delivering the payoff leaders are looking for? A good place to start is to understand what goes into it.
Up-knowledge, Upskill and Up-perform
A citizen-led approach includes training, but it also goes beyond that to create real, sustainable change. It’s about leading in a way that inspires people to want to boost their skills and knowledge. And it’s about tapping into the power of the people closest to the work: 73% of employees say they know of systems or technology that would help them produce higher-quality work.
Here’s how it works: Business leaders define the direction and goals for how they need their people to work in the future. Then they provide the training, tools, and resources for people to learn and apply their skills, as well as the incentives to encourage people to participate.
With that guidance from leaders in place, employees are given the freedom to apply their new knowledge right away in their jobs. They take the lead in innovating, building, sharing, and test-driving solutions. In our firm, for example, we’ve seen more than 3,200 contributions to our Digital Lab, a collaboration platform where people crowd-source and share solutions they’ve built themselves, like bots, data visualization tools, and automated workflows. They can easily share and replicate those innovations across our firm, so change happens at scale.
Those ideas and micro innovations help teams work better, boosting performance across the organization and freeing up more time for people to focus on the parts of their job that matter most: helping our clients solve problems.
Leading In A New Way
Citizen-led innovation isn’t about employees doing whatever they want. Nor is it aimed at reducing headcount or replacing people with automations or AI. It’s about helping employees evolve with their jobs.
That calls for a different kind of leadership—one where leaders encourage rather than mandate, inspire rather than require. It’s about showing people that you’re committed to giving people permission to experiment, to play with what they’ve learned, and to try new things—and the freedom to use time on the job to do so. And it calls for giving people the autonomy to apply that learning right away, so it feels meaningful and relevant.
This “everyone’s in it together” mentality wins people’s emotional commitment. They’re proud and excited to share ideas and innovations, and that enthusiasm is contagious. Upskilling becomes personal. That emotional engagement helps make change lasting, scalable, and sustainable, rather than a short-term initiative with limited impact.
The payoff? Real results from your upskilling investments: better performance, streamlined operations, innovative solutions, and a workforce with the skills and the mindset to stay sharp as work evolves.
We’re excited about the results of our people-powered approach— and we’re excited to help other organizations put it to work for themselves. We believe it’s the key to finally achieving the innovation, productivity, and scale you’re after. Are you ready to get results?
Find out how you can turn upskilling into results.