Article: In digital age, Corporate learning must be continuous

Learning & Development

In digital age, Corporate learning must be continuous

Organizations must think beyond traditional classrooms and embrace a culture of continuous, people-centric learning and development
In digital age, Corporate learning must be continuous

The corporate learning and development (L&D) institution is going through a major change: moving from long, structured, classroom-based training programs to a wide variety of flexible, on-demand learning options accessed via mobile apps, videos and interactive learning platforms. 

What is motivating the L&D disruption? Organizations are banking on innovation as a key competitive differentiator in the digital economy, driven by the enormous opportunities presented by technological evolutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and they realize that continuous employee learning is an absolute prerequisite to driving an innovation culture. 

Investing in digitizing learning content and solutions, therefore, aims at driving organizational change for most organizations. One example of such an initiative would be digitizing content developed by internal trainers which can be uploaded to a Learning Management System (LMS) and making all organization-mandated courses (across corporate ethics and compliance, to technical and Interpersonal dynamics) accessible anytime, anywhere through online learning systems.

Using training to enable corporate strategy

Progressive companies are using learning as a strategic tool for aligning their employees’ talents with corporate strategy.  For example, companies realize that putting customer experience at the core when designing new products and services in the digital age is important to the successful adoption of those products.  So, these companies are training employees on concepts such as design thinking to bolster employee skills in these areas. Given this strategic context, it’s also important to understand that corporate learning should be considered part of the organizational strategy and not be restricted to any one function. 

The shift to continuous learning

Recent human capital trends reports confirm that corporate learning has transformed from the traditional mechanism of designing and delivering training programs to an approach of enabling continuous learning. 

At the core of workplace learning is providing instant access to information, as and when required, removing learning barriers, and integrating all informational resources and tools to offer the best possible learning experiences to employees. For example, enabling employees with comprehensive technology and business learning platforms, such as Safari Books online, Pluralsight, and so on can be a great way of making information accessible on demand. 

Maximizing the benefit of L&D programs

Because continuous learning should be tightly linked to company strategy, an organization needs collective effort to generate maximum value from its L&D initiatives. This includes the following: 

Building a learning organization - A ‘C-level’ priority

The initiative of building a learning organization must start at the top. Corporate learning is not a standalone project: it impacts the entire organization and is ultimately aimed at driving organizational change. To make learning an organization-wide strategy that is aligned with larger business goals, it is imperative to have the C-suite involved. Evidence also suggests that corporate training programs that receive high levels of sponsorship from senior leaders and C-suite executives more effectively contribute to business transformation.

Learning should come from all corners

To date, L&D teams have been considered the owners of corporate training and development. However, today, learning has multiple stakeholders. The digital disruption has created the need for constant and seamless knowledge sharing. This requires HR and learning teams, as well as various core and support functions, to collaborate and make use of innovative platforms to enable continuous knowledge sharing across the organization, so that information is available to the right people at the right point in time. 

Learning must go beyond the boundaries of traditional classrooms, or even online systems to being experiential and involve other mediums that engage individuals in the learning process.  This could be in the form of knowledge sharing programs, online portals or video sharing systems that enable seamless knowledge transfer or even internal events like hackathons or workshops.  

Employees take charge

An organization’s learning environment and investments often gets less credit than they deserve when individuals make career choices, especially in the early stages of their career (I am sure there are exceptions, but in my experience other factors outweigh the learning factor). Being part of an organization that fosters and invests in learning will pay rich dividends – it will help build careers, not limit you to jobs. 

As the digital workplace evolves, the message for employees is clear. They must take the ownership of developing their learning roadmap and make their own choices as they move ahead in their career trajectory.

For organizations riding the digital wave, developing a people-centric learning environment supported by innovative, flexible, on-demand learning platforms will be instrumental in building a learning culture.  Organizations should focus on creating learning eco-systems and make them relevant to the future.  Self-driven and ambitious employees will make the best use of them, define their own growth paths, and be able to ‘write their own pay-checks’! 

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Topics: Learning & Development, HR Technology

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