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Nationwide is committing $160 million over five years to make sure its workers are ready for the jobs of tomorrow at the insurer.

Beyond training, some of that money will go toward boosting the company’s benefits package, including a pilot project this summer in which workers will be able to put five days worth of work into four so that they can take off two Fridays a month.

“It is really a very competitive marketplace out there. We firmly believe if we invest in our people, they’ll invest in us,” said Gale King, Nationwide’s chief administrative officer.

“This is just really important to me,” said Kirt Walker, the company’s CEO. “We want the world to know that in order to provide extra care for our members we need extraordinary people across our organization.”

Nationwide has 28,000 workers across the country with staff concentrated in Columbus, Des Moines, Iowa, and Phoenix.

All workers will receive training around what the company is calling “digital literacy,” knowledge that Nationwide believes each worker should have when it comes to technology and innovation. What the training will involve depends on the job.

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Workers who participate will get increases in their bonus, a move that King says will cost Nationwide $12 million a year.

On top of that, Nationwide has identified about 7,000 jobs, including those in call centers and underwriting, which are threatened by automation.

Those workers will get the opportunity to be retrained in what the company believes will be the jobs of the future. Those include cybersecurity and data analytics, King said.

King said Nationwide wants to keep workers.

“These are people who know our culture and proved their commitment to us,” she said.

The company now has a better sense of where technology and jobs are headed than in the past, when the more typical reaction might have been to lay off workers, King said.

“We’re constantly evaluating the marketplace,” she said. “We’re talking with our associates. We have a really strong data and analytics team to see how the workplace is changing.”

This year, the company plans to test Summer Fridays, a program that allows workers from Memorial Day through Labor Day to condense five standard workdays into four twice a month.

The move is meant to allow parents longer weekends to spend with their children, King said.

Nationwide also said it recently added two weeks to its paternity, maternity and adoption leave benefit.

New moms now can get 14 weeks of paid time off while fathers, domestic partners and adoptive parents can get 30 days.

Reach the reporter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter @BizMarkWilliams.

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