Article: Learning in the Hybrid World: Building a Future-ready Workforce

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Learning in the Hybrid World: Building a Future-ready Workforce

With organisational learning becoming an imperative for businesses globally, in this discussion we learned about the best practices for enabling learning in the flow of work, ensuring goal alignment and using innovative learning systems in the face of limitations.
Learning in the Hybrid World: Building a Future-ready Workforce

According to the World Economic Forum, 85 million jobs will be displaced and 97 million new jobs created by 2025 as a result of the ongoing uncertainty that we see, as well as on account of accelerated automation. Companies need to build skills at an ever increasing pace, while employees crave growth opportunities to excel in their careers. Skill Building is future proofing and L&D teams are seizing the opportunity to use skills to move their entire organisation forward,’ shares Ruchee Anand, Senior Director - Talent and Learning Solutions, LinkedIn, opening the panel discussion on Learning in the Hybrid World: Building a Future-ready Workforce. 

With the intention to bring to the table actionable insights that can empower organisations in navigating this new era of skill building, People Matters in partnership with LinkedIn Talent Solutions brings forth this urgent conversation with key leaders namely Chanchal Chandiok, HR Director, NEC Software Solutions (India) and Uma Rao, VP-HR, Ashok Leyland Ltd. Here are some of the key takeaways from this session.

Rising priorities in the arena of organisational learning and development: 

The virtual and hybrid world of work accordingly shifts an organisation’s focus areas for learning and the strategies they devise in order to achieve that. For Chanchal, she actively acknowledges that classroom training is no longer viable on a virtual plane; what can counter this is a culture of self-learning and peer learning which is also interactive and far more engaging. Mentoring and coaching to enable the growth of their employees which is also aligned with the demand for soft skills is an equally important area of focus.

Uma zeroes in on the hard skills side of the picture when it comes to a distributed workforce and raises the need for product knowledge which can be made accessible at their fingertips through handheld devices. Product development is another area of intensive learning because it enables your people to keep up with the latest trends in the market and this is carried out at Ashok Leyland through the use of open source MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). After both these aspects comes driving increasing competencies for the organisation at large.

The owners of learning cannot only be the organisation, it has to be individually driven as well. What's important is how seriously do you take your own knowledge building as one of the ways to grow. So, I think the ownership lies a lot in the individual to do this learning and create their individual development plans,’ says Uma. LinkedIn’s latest report also supports this by pointing out how for employees, learning and growth becomes a top demand. When organisations initiate such growth opportunities, there’s bound to be a positive reception. 

Empowering learning in the flow of work with greater accessibility, inclusivity:

One of the best things about learning platforms is that they’re easily accessible and can accommodate the schedules of your workforce, with features that allow videos to be downloaded for later use in areas with low network connectivity while raising questions to check in on the comprehension side of things.

Learning in the flow of work can also be encouraged through on demand learning modules as well as rewards and recognition for instance, the ‘Self-Learning Award’ championed by NEC Software Solutions given on a quarterly basis to those completing the highest number of certifications. 

Integrated Business Planning (IBP) aligned with learning programs can also yield fruitful results. Moreover, training can also be carried out with an intention to shift or expand upon an employee's roles within the organisation thereby supporting internal mobility. An inclusive learning experience is fundamental for the growth of your company and takes cognizance of the various needs and motivations of the employees to learn and grow in tandem with their daily schedules and locations. Flexibility is also a core aspect of this inclusivity and according to the LinkedIn Talent Trends report is a value and practice that employees actively seek. 

Goal alignment to build an employee career path visualisation with greater clarity: 

Although today’s learning management systems allow space for a lot of experimentation, clarity remains a key component. At Ashok Leyland, Uma talks about the balanced scorecard methodology which includes prompts for setting goals in line with the four components of this scorecard and its useful because it empowers employees who may need help when it comes to setting clear targets to achieve. A total quality management framework (TQM) is incredibly useful as well when it comes to cascading goals throughout the organisation with greater sustainability and continuity at all levels of the workforce. 

Volunteering is also a key part of this strategy because it helps build purpose and empowers your people to find meaning in their work which is one thing they actively seek. 

Chanchal raises a very important point regarding succession planning when it comes to goal alignment. She says, ‘Succession planning in line with those individual goals as a personal growth and linking them in terms of showing an individual how they can align their personal goals to a business goal and move ahead in their career is important.’

Innovating and investing to enable learning despite limitations: 

At Ashok Leyland, for the staff working on ground, kiosks are made accessible to access product information on demand. Simultaneously, mentoring sessions are carried out even there. It is imperative that all the staff at every level of the company has access to learning and accordingly companies must invest in that. Although it's not possible for every employee to be given a laptop, investing in learning solutions that can be easily accessed on smartphones can create a huge difference. 

It is imperative for systems to be designed through the lens of design thinking because it is evident in an automated world, systems will be connected and so will your supply chains. Uma raises this change in the business landscapes while emphasising the importance of digital skills and how technology is the way forward.

Accordingly, training programs that can help advance these digital skills have to be initiated. This is why one cannot overlook the significance of building a business case for learning and development.

More than ever before, it deserves a seat at the table because it can help navigate an automated world with speed, resilience and foresight as it equips your workforce with the skills to thrive in the future. 

Before concluding the session, Uma shares, ‘I personally wanted to place on record the great work done by LinkedIn in our journey through this pandemic. We have tied up with them and did a number of courses which have been very positively received. From being the networking platform, to moving towards learning, I think this is a classic case of adaptability to what is required in the current context. This is very important and speaks of the culture of the organisation. When the question comes up about the company’s experience with digital? I think the whole issue is around the culture of the organisation. Digital does not fail because you don't have computers or systems, it fails because you don't have a mindset to adapt to it.’

In this discussion on the rising significance of a learning culture and some of the best practices that can help sustain this, learning experience platforms can play a huge role in giving smart recommendations, enabling blended learning while aligning it with business goals. It is imperative that organisations invest efforts to enable learning in the flow of work and empower their employees to kick start their career journeys where they grow and build up on their skills. To view the full conversation, click here

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Topics: Strategic HR, Learning & Development, Learning Technology, #HRTech, #OneHR

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