Effective tracking is central for learning: Dan Tesnjak, Degreed
Hybrid workplaces are changing how work and learning get done. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Dan Tesnjak, VP of APAC and EMEA, Degreed spoke about the major shifts in corporate learning strategies and how L&D leaders can accelerate their learning strategies to drive personalisation and design impactful career journeys
1) As organisations re-open offices and navigate the next leg of hybrid work operations, what do you think are some of the top priorities that L&D leaders need to keep in mind?
I think there are two main priorities for L&D leaders. First, ensuring the continuity of learning in a hybrid environment. Hybrid workplaces will lead to more hybrid learning, with L&D professionals crafting learning experiences that suit what’s being taught. In some cases, this will be an in-person session, in others, a webinar or online learning pathway will suffice. Taking this approach will help people learn in the best way possible for them, whether that’s at home, while commuting, or going into the office for dedicated sessions. Of course, this makes it vital for L&D leaders to double down on their analytics, to understand what people are learning, where, when, and with what resources. All learning needs to be tracked and recognized.
The second priority is one that became business-critical during the pandemic. Many organisations suddenly had to shift their operations, products, and services and this required reskilling and upskilling at scale, quickly. Further disruption is on the horizon with automation and other emerging technologies so having a continuous, positive learning culture will ensure businesses are ready to pivot when needed. In fact, 76% of workers in positive learning environments feel that their companies were responsive to changes in the pandemic. They are also 235% more likely to move to new functions within their existing organisation — so they are more readily able to redeploy as the business needs change.
2) We’ve moved to a culture of continuous, self-paced learning that’s accomplished in the flow of work. What challenges do you foresee with the rise of these new trends?
As learning becomes more integrated with the flow of work, it’s meeting learners where they’re at — and fulfilling many different needs and career journeys. Now, we can deliver learning to someone in an office, someone travelling in a vehicle, someone in a warehouse, and even down mines and on ships (in the case of one Degreed client, Vale). This really levels the playing field for learners, because it’s no longer just about upskilling desk-based workers. And it’s building personal learning journeys for individuals, so they can work better in their current roles and be ready for future changes.
With so many different formats, timings, and locations to learn, effective tracking is paramount for learning leaders so they can really understand what’s happening in their workforce. There needs to be a single system of record that tracks all learning that’s happening including informal learning like watching videos and reading books, on-the-job learning, formal training, peer-led learning sessions, and more.
3) There seems to be a problem of excess content in today’s age. With the rise of a number of content service providers, employees have access to a wide range of content formats, how can we make sure they’re accessing the right formats for them? Also, how can L&D teams curate the right content?
In a word: personalisation. We’re used to getting personalised marketing from brands, and personalised recommendations of what to watch or listen to. Imagine how frustrating it is for learners who are given a one-size-fits-all learning experience that overwhelms them with irrelevant content. No wonder only 25% of employees feel that training improved their job performance and a tiny 12% of them have applied new skills learned to their jobs.
Personalisation comes from knowing your learners. Managers have a role to play here, in listening to their team members, understanding their career goals and learning needs, and then directing them to relevant resources. Employees in positive learning cultures were 270% more likely to say that their manager helped to create a development plan and set learning goals with them, and 183% more likely to recommend learning resources.
Gathering learning and skill data will help you understand your learners’ current efforts, their needs, and any emerging skill gaps. Skill data can be gathered from learning systems, HR systems, resumes, applicant tracking systems (ATS) and through peer and manager feedback. Analysing skill data can help L&D teams better personalise learning to individuals by curating the most popular topics, formats, and releasing new resources at times when someone is most likely to be ready and engaged with learning.
4) Documenting learning journeys seem to be a popular way of engaging learners. How do you think companies should handle user-generated content?
User-generated content is the perfect way for someone to share their knowledge with peers and stretch their skills in that particular topic, and also in teaching and communication. So L&D leaders should encourage this in their organisations. L&D teams can curate user-generated content as part of wider company learning pathways so that it can be easily discovered.
5) There’s a lot of focus on learning analytics and potential that it could unleash in creating a compelling learning roadmap for learners. What are some trends you are most excited about?
Within learning analytics, a significant trend that should be on every learning leader’s radar is how to create a skills system of record. Having a single place where all skills and learning can be tracked opens up opportunities for greater personalisation and supporting tailored career journeys. The great thing about learning data is that it’s highly dynamic. People engage with learning every day, through peers, podcasts, books, courses, webinars and more. Overlaying this data with data from HR systems gives a more updated view of someone’s skills and capabilities than just relying on a HR system or resume alone (as they don’t update those or log into those systems as often).
An exciting development in creating compelling learning roadmaps for individuals is the rise of experiential learning as a way to stretch newly learned skills. It provides a ‘why’ for learning, by connecting people to opportunities like stretch assignments, temporary deployments, volunteering and mentoring. They deepen their knowledge and get real-world experiences. This learning can be tracked through your skills system of record to further enhance someone’s skill profile and provide even more personalized learning.