Bridging skill gaps through technology
Many organizations view learning programs as something that is difficult to justify. Then there is a question on demonstrating a Return on Investment. Some L&D professionals quip that the cost of not having a learning program is higher than the cost of having one. They rightly justify this argument by outlining the various setbacks that can result from a lack of learning programs. These include a loss of morale in the organization, the inability to develop new skills and an increase in attrition. There are usually three big hindrances that organizations face when they prepare to implement a learning program in their organization. They are Budgets, Time and Motivation. In this feature, we are going to discuss how the learning and development team can address the issues revolving around budgetary constraints, and how technology can be the biggest enabler to achieve this.
Key Trends in the Learning and Development Space
One comforting fact is that organizations across the globe are witnessing is the urgent need to reshape their learning programs. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, Learning and Development issues escalated from the No. 8 to the No. 3 most important talent challenge in this year’s study, with 85 percent of survey participants rating learning as “very important” or “important” problem. Despite this demand, capabilities in learning dropped significantly; the gap between importance and readiness was more than three times worse in 2015 than in 2014. They also found that companies that transform their learning and development organizations are not only able to accelerate skills development, but also can dramatically improve employee engagement and retention—one of the biggest challenges cited by this year’s respondents.
In a scenario where it is believed that learning programs are important, how does the L&D team focus on creating programws and yet stay within the budget? The answer is to be creative and design innovative learning programs, and making technology your friend. Most traditional classroom learning programs involves getting everyone in the same room. This can include travel and stay costs, loss of man-hours and setting up the venue. These factors contribute to bloating the cost of the learning program significantly. Ask yourself, if these costs can be reduced or even eliminated completely by using an online platform and conduct the entire learning program without worrying about the logistics. You have to make sure that the program delivers on the experience without compromising on the core philosophy of the learning program. Some unique training concepts, which are backed by technology, include Web based training, Simulations, Videos, e-learning modules and social media.
Webinar based Learning Programs
Learning Programs delivered using an online platform have been the traditional alternative to classroom learning programs. However, the L&D team needs to ensure that it is not an exact replica of a usual classroom-learning program. They need to focus on how the platform can be used to differentiate and make the learning program more interactive and collaborative, and create an on-demand version of the webinar to enable anytime learning.
Simulations based Learning Programs
This is the new kid on the block when it comes to new-age learning programs, and many consider this as the future of learning. By creating a real-life challenge in a virtual environment, participants learn by identifying with the simulation, making mistakes and learning from them. These simulations based learning programs are extremely interactive, highly engaging and provide detailed reports on the participant’s actions. The icing on the cake: combine simulations with web based learning and you have a winner on your hands.
Video based Learning Programs
By many estimates, online video has overtaken social media when it comes to the number of minutes spent on the platform. This is a no-brainer, as most participants tend to learn visually. Video based learning also provides a long-term return on investment as they can be reused on demand and for as long as the content is relevant.
e-learning based Learning Programs
Most learning programs vary in terms of duration of the program and are designed accordingly. However, creating a repository of learning modules based on the core competencies of your organization can be a boon for those employees who are self motivated. The L&D team can ensure that they are hosted on the right platform to guarantee that the delivery is flawless and the learner experience is not sacrificed.
Social Media based Learning Programs
While social media may not be a learning platform by itself, the L&D team needs to ensure that learning programs have embraced the key traits of social media. These include enabling conversations, connecting with fellow participants, building personal profiles of the participant if possible, and sharing learning goals and accomplishments.
It is important to remember that technology can only provide the tool to overcome budgetary constraints. The real success of the learning program is only when the tools are used creatively to ensure the participants learn and spread the word.