Among the Employee Experience scope, Employee Development has undergone the most significant shifts, even increasing since last year. And among these shifts, the data to drive employee development is now more readily available and actionable. Data-driven learning and development is a major key to improve the employee experience. As COVID-19 situations begin to improve, organizations have started strategically investing in intelligent data to revamp their Employee Experience.
In an exclusive interaction with us, Stephan Paolini, who is currently leading the People Practice for Capgemini Business Services, and is a speaker at the People Matters EX Conference, shares how employee development will pan out in a remote setting and how data can be an instrumental factor in redesigning development and experience.
What are some of the shifts in employee development since last year?
Employee “development” covers three broad domains: 1. the actual Learning sessions, which cover only about 20% of one’s development. 2. The majority of actionable development does come from on-the-job experience, and its impact is depending on factors such as role, maturity or exposure. 3. Finally – and too frequently under-estimated – the peer-to-peer relations supported by close managerial coaching are moments and relations that make all the difference...
Obviously, new learning development needs have exploded with Covid, leading to rapid remote upskilling requirements. With all face-to-face training cancelled almost instantly, companies were forced to stop their presential activities; hence experience-led development has halted as well. And for the companies lucky enough to be able to continue, all team interactions – from coffee-talks to live experience sharing – have reduced almost to zero. Hence, all development levers have weakened over the past year, while managers – often overwhelmed by the various situations – had less time to focus on individual support and mid-term development.
The pandemic has indeed disrupted the standard, stabilized fundamentals of developmental delivery.
What are some of the challenges in employee development in a remote environment?
The challenges today can be characterized in three buckets:
- How can you reinvent your Learning portfolio for improved and seamless accessibility? Digital learning at scale is now the natural approach, for both learning at scale and individualized programs. Though, as travel restrictions ease up, some behavioral programs (such as leadership) may be delivered in face-to-face sessions again… But nobody can say now how many nor when this is going to come back to a “new normal”.
- Secondly, all companies have pivoted – quickly or not, easily or not – to new ways of working. A significant part of “remote work”– as a new work standard – is here to stay, which means that your relations to teams, peers and interactions also need to be reinvented (without falling into some lock-down traps we have all gone through…). And these are still early-stage findings. I am not sure we have found yet the universal recipe.
- Lastly, managerial relations and the teams’ dynamic have been totally shambled and need to be reinvented as well. Some managers’ propensity to command & control, requiring “his” team’s proximity is no longer relevant nor acceptable. The manager-as-a-coach era has truly begun, at scale, to guide and play other levers to maintain a team in proximity (even remotely), coach their immediate and mid-term performance (by developing their assets) and co-define (their) perspectives with them…
How can managers create individual development plans in a hybrid world?
This depends a lot on your business model and the company’s professional requirements. I would recommend a triple layer to do so. First, how do you define and set your professional excellence requirements? Second, how is your make-or-buy policy defined to source and develop your workforce? Are you looking at building complex and rare skills internally or can they be available externally? What are the tasks/processes/skills ready to be automated and which ones do you plan to keep human-delivered and upskill your workforce on?
Third, what is your talent pool flow? What is your attrition level, on which roles/professions/skills and how can you balance an upskilling speed with attrition? There needs to be a continuous flow of onboarding, upskilling, development to retain the talents you need and counterbalance the market’s attractiveness. These three layers bring about new Employee Experience challenges.
Employees today want things to move faster and be more individualized, similarly to their own client experiences.
Business and HR Leaders need to acknowledge these pressing needs and play all these levers in an articulated and simultaneous manner to make a lasting difference. Designing an ambition is one thing, making it real in a sustainable manner is a different challenge!
How can data-driven employee development help in revamping the employee experience?
The good news about development data is that it’s now more available and legible than ever. It has always been difficult to understand the impact of any learning that any employee takes on his job. It was also difficult to identify one individual’s morale and the team’s dynamics, given that companies mostly had one performance assessment a year. Now continuous feedback, continuous listening, continuous upskilling are all providing a bigger, broader data flow. Paired with relevant analysis, they lead to focused insights and relevant decisions to their business and people challenges, ambitions, and business models.
For instance, such development data can help companies pinpoint trends in their learning requirements, create adapted global/local/specific action plans, encourage “crowd learning” as well as individual development actions to improve employability/readiness/performance through learning. It can become an anticipative and flexible lever to their new Talent Management and Employee Experience strategy.
What is your one piece of advice when it comes to employee development in this year?
First, consider the professional requirements, competency architecture, and skills needs, all together. Only then is it worthwhile revisiting your learning experience in a holistic manner in light of the Employee Experience benefit it must have. Remember that skills are just a mean, a standard requirement while competency is a context-driven requirement. You need both in your learning plans. They are the two facets of the same upskilling challenge and companies should be addressing both, not just the skilling part, despite all the buzz.
Finally, combine cleverly the collective learning approach (learning at scale, crowd learning, digital learning platform, peer exchanges) and individual perspectives and development plans and deliver them sustainably and fairly across the board.