Tech-led business transformation has changed the nature of work and learning. While technical skills continue to be necessary, the focus on higher-order skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and empathy has increased in a hybrid work model. Organizations must look at how to sensitize employees to these new priorities and help build these skills.
In an exclusive virtual roundtable hosted by People Matters and Harappa, leading industry voices from the IT sector shared their thoughts on how they’re navigating the new learning priorities of this sector.
Speaking of the shifts that employees adapted to in the past year, Gayathri Ramamurthy (VP, India Learning Head, Capgemini Technology Services India) noted that, “Digital literacy is not a choice anymore. Everyone had to learn to navigate apps like Aarogya Setu during the pandemic.” Also, employees everywhere needed to learn how to make the best of the digital tools while navigating remote work and engaging with their peers.
The need for upskilling
“When there’s a necessity, innovations follow,” said Mahipal Nair (People Development & Operations Leader, NielsenIQ). The company moved from people-interaction-dependent learning to digital methods to navigate skilling priorities. As consumer expectations change, leadership and social skills have become a priority for workplace performance.
“The way to solve this is not just to transform current talent, but create relevant talent,” said Nilanjan Kar (CRO, Harappa). Echoing the sentiment, Kirti Seth (CEO, SSC NASSCOM) added that “learning should be about principles, and it should enable employees to make the basics their own.” This will help create a learning organization that can contextualize change across the industry to stay relevant and map the desired learning outcomes.
While companies upskill their workforce on these priorities, the real question is what skills will be required?
Anupal Banerjee (CHRO, Tata Technologies) noted that “with the change in skills, there are multiple levels to focus on. While one focus area is on technical skills, the second is on behavioral skills. And the third critical element is the time within which individuals have to learn these skills”.
How to upskill?
- Define the purpose: Clearly outlining the purpose of learning will attract both learners who learn for the sake of learning, and those who may not be interested in learning but have problems to solve.
- Draw up a strategy: L&D needs to define a strategy that involves:
- Just in time learning: to solve an immediate problem
- Predictive learning: for skill sets that are fast-changing
- Dynamic learning: to learn quickly at an organizational level by building skills inventory
- Personalize learning: “Talk about concepts but teach through real-time role-plays to make learning relevant to the individual. This will enable better learning absorption,” said Shalini Jain (SVP HR, Eclerx).
- Integrate technology: Learning and tech enablement must be seamlessly integrated for context, content, and technology. Janardhan Santhanam (Global Head, Talent Development, Tata Consultancy Services), shared, “Prior to the pandemic, our organization was 92% tech-enabled, now we moved to 100% virtual by bringing in simulations, coaching, and post-training interventions on the behavioral front; tying it back to the context for a digital space.”
- Learning in context: Shaakun Khanna (Leader of Human Capital Management Strategy & Transformation, Asia Pacific, Oracle India) said adding context to learning will create a learning pull. “We tend to learn without knowing when we will use it.”
Building a learning culture
Daily moments define culture, especially in today’s geographically spread and hybrid workforce. Mukund Nair (Director, HR, Nagarro) said that “the rise of digital tools enabled an egalitarian learning process, where the focus is now on building the mindset and letting people choose what they are enthused about. At Nagarro,
HR devises programs to institutionalize learning signals as a process. HR is then responsible for nudging, i.e. reinforcing the signals and propagating the programs through a physical or remote setup. This solves the challenge of cultivating learnability, and it helps employees to learn skills at a fast pace with a self-driven growth mindset.”
The way ahead for learning
Anil Joseph (Head of Human Resources-APAC, Sutherland Global Services) believes in bringing learning to learners. By leveraging technology, the company provided 30,000+ courses, and employees could take on anything new pertaining to what they wanted to do in the future.
Evangelizing the idea of learning will help foster sustainable country-wide skills shift.
Kavita Kurup (Global Head - Talent and Organisational Transformation, UST) believes that building an element of human skills into the learning program is important.
“L&D must constantly convey the message that learning is a personal success enabler. This will help make learning agility a core competency by focusing on getting people to learn how to learn”, she said.
Ultimately, learning needs to be meaningful to the individual learner and the company. And there’s a need to think about how L&D professionals must come together to identify the best learning practices in the long run, and collectively resolve the industry’s skilling needs.
To know more on social, cognitive and behavioral skilling have a look at Harappa's website here.