Article: Learning at large for a blended workforce

Learning & Development

Learning at large for a blended workforce

Here's how talent leaders can build a learning model that can deliver the promise of large scale learning in alignment with gig workers.
Learning at large for a blended workforce

Thriving in business has never been simple. With changing business environment and coping with disruptive models that technology is harvesting, this era arguably is being seen the most difficult one. Moreover, the shift in the definition of work and employee experience is paving way to amplification of new talent management philosophies. Employment models are reshaping with the influx of gig workers posing challenges in managing the learning curve of the existing workforce. While organizations are struggling to build a culture where learning is a constant process, creating learning models for contractual and gig workforce in the organization structure has added to the fury. What should leaders do? How should they build a learning model that can adapt to the new employment models and deliver the promise of large scale learning in alignment with gig workers?

Companies are all set to embrace the gig workforce. GE had partnered with Upwork to leverage contingent talent. LinkedIn’s ProFinder in the US helps to connect freelancers to clients. EY, Mercer and PwC too had launched their platforms to organize use of freelancers in their workforce model. In short, there is no choice for HR leaders and L&D professionals but to develop training models and strategies at large that support both sides of the new blended workforce if they want to attract and retain the best talent. In fact, one of the immediate advantages that the blended workforce may bring is increased participation of women talent. Freelancing can meaningfully help women to sustain a viable career option, especially as they look to stay engaged with enhanced flexibility. The blended L&D model must strive to merge the goodness of both worlds.

Let us try to create some learning strategies that can bring both segments together.

Common On-boarding process

To begin with, orientation needs to be completed by gig workers along the lines of company employees before they can start working. This isn’t prevalent in many companies as of now. However, this is an important approach to make sure that both the set are aligned with the internal processes and overall culture of the company. A company named TaskRabbit follows this model so that all indirect and direct workforces are aware of their policies, rules and regulations.

Skill based workshops 

Another point worth mentioning is related to monitoring of performance of the contingent workforce along with existing ones. When employees are not doing their jobs well, they are often sent for training. But what happens when an independent contractor fails to do his or her job well? There is no development strategy aimed at them. For instance, majority of gig workers are techies to their core. Hence, it’s important to teach them soft skills. This also helps in creating a sense of team spirit among the dispersed workforce. 

Enable a supportive internal ecosystem

Allow gig workers to access company’s newsfeed or any other company owned informative platform. This will equip them to remain updated on the company’s business, its product updates, brand campaigns and also adds to the sense of belongingness. Enabling a culture where gig workers and company employees share and learn together is much needed. L&D strategies must revolve around facilitating knowledge sharing sessions between contingent workers and full-time employees. Setting up formal events such as lunches or meetings, or simply providing opportunities for gigglers and full-time employees to organically network is imperative.

Use training as remediation

If an Uber driver’s rating drops below a certain limit, he might be suspended until he takes a compulsory four hour basic driver training course, which he is required to pay for out of pocket. In fact, often gig workers take to message boards to complain about a lack of training. Most workers seem hungry for learning, and a market is slowly springing up to fill the gig economy training void.

Tech based learning tools

Gig workers are often remote, transient and need information to be available to them anywhere and anytime. Because of this downtime, remote and flexible nature of learning, technology needs to be used to make the training engaging and effective. Sharing company’s own MOOC, micro learning capsules, simulation based tools and other tech learning platforms that they use for full time employees can be used to train gig workers. As many younger employees are entering the gig space, tech based learning tools will always be their first choice.

Independent contractors and gig workers who have a specific skill-set can be a great training asset for the company. L&D leaders must begin to realign their strategies in order to balance skills across all levels. And as organizations move towards such blended workforces, an enabling supportive learning ecosystem is necessary to be provided by leaders. So, it is imperative to plan strategies that will bring in a more viable L&D model to deliver the promise of large scale learning.

(Know more about the latest trends in the learning & development landscape at the People Matters L&D Conference 2019 scheduled for 6th of November in Mumbai. Click here to register.)

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Topics: Learning & Development, #PMLnD

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