The increased focus on learning over the past year has primarily been driven due to two factors: 1) Companies re-strategizing and optimizing their business models and 2) Employees saving time due to work from home. While remote work is likely to continue shaping work, companies need to realign their learning priorities.
On Day 2, of the People Matters L&D 2021 India Conference, two of India’s leading CHROs shared their views on the topic “Learning impact amid uncertainty: Reimagining CHRO’s role”. The panel was moderated by Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor in Chief at People Matters and featured Aadesh Goyal, Global CHRO, Member of Global Management Committee at Tata Communications and Saurabh Govil, President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Wipro. Here are some of the key highlights of the discussion:
On learning culture
Build a learning culture is no longer a choice, most companies have to adapt as industries shift towards digital and readapt to new trends.
“20 years ago, the shelf life of a skill was probably 20 years, but today, new skills are redundant in a span of close to five years – and it is reducing rapidly,” Aadesh noted. There is a need to equip learners with not just the tools but also the updates on learning. “For example, if there’s a data scientist working in your organization, you need to know what other data scientists are learning elsewhere – even outside the company. It opens up the opportunity to democratize learning and nudge employees to learn,” he added.
“Leadership is critical to building a culture of learning,” Saurabh noted. “And another critical factor is the mindset for learning. We really need to believe in the importance of learning,”
The message for companies is clear – there are far greater opportunities for both the business and their employees while they engage in continuous learning.
Tackling digital fatigue
The increased blurring of personal and professional lives due to remote work led to digital fatigue as employees spent longer hours in front of their digital devices.
“The lunch breaks at the office and the commute to work created a break from work,” Aadesh noted. With remote work, people need to be encouraged to come up with problems, and we need to help identify and solve the problem.
Despite the restrictions brought about due to the pandemic, “there is a need to find the personal balance when it comes to work-life priorities,” Saurabh noted.
Digital vs other forms learning
“Most millennials and Gen Z employees aren’t necessarily tired of online learning. It is crucial for HR to understand how they’re communicating and engaging with this cohort,” Aadesh said.
Even as digital learning took over during the pandemic, the leaders noted that real-life work experience still is invaluable to learners.
“A lot of what is taught in courses today is about how you interact with others and the world at large. And while digital learning continues to play a critical role in enabling learners, it is not a substitute for in-person learning. The workplace experience helps companies deepen their learning and their relationships,” Saurabh noted. “And coming back to work, will help make the best of both worlds,” he added.
On the role of leadership in learning
“Resilience, empathy and an open mindset is critical for leaders today,” Saurabh said.
“Leaders shouldn’t just give hope, they should also give people the courage to deal with the transformation,” Aadesh noted. “As more disruptions are likely to happen much faster, we need to encourage employees to learn how to do transformation,” he added.
Even as ambiguity and uncertainty continue to define a new era of work, it is up to companies to define an inclusive agenda that is future focused.