The global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic left no industry untouched and pushed the worldwide economy into uncertainty. With HR at the center, businesses and industries have shown impressive flexibility — helping employees shift to remote work and redefine employee experience.
All these changes have been facilitated during great personal and economic distress, and the key to navigating them has been building resilience. Crucial aspects of these changes have been the ability to quickly unlearn obsolete ideas, embrace new ways of working, and continuously learn to prepare for the future.
People Matters, in partnership with Skillsoft India, recently conducted a roundtable discussion on the theme “Learning Reboot 2021: Employee Wellness, Organizational Resilience, Mental Health, Productivity & More.” During the roundtable, participants brainstormed ideas, formulated action plans based on successful case studies, and discussed the top business priorities for employee wellness and building organizational resilience. The keynote session was presented by Kamal Dutta, Managing Director, Skillsoft India, with Divyesh Sindhwaad, Regional Vice President, Skillsoft India, joining in to facilitate the virtual breakout group discussion.
The changing nature of HR, work, and learning
In the past year, HR has been directly responsible for employee wellbeing and safety. Working with organizational leadership, HR leaders have helped enterprises improve productivity and maintain continuity in the face of disruptions. Simultaneously, employees are becoming more driven to undertake purpose-led work and want to see their values reflected in their work.
All these changes have also impacted how training and transfer of knowledge are undertaken. With increased immersive content, personalized recommendations, leadership coaching, and employees taking ownership of learning, the L&D function has been revitalized and rewritten over the past year.
Organizations have taken note that different employees require different kinds of support and have equipped their leaders to offer the flexibility. Since leaders are at the center of the movement that makes businesses move from transactional to transformational, the focus on leadership development has never been higher. This context lets us explore how organizations have reoriented and redesigned their learning framework and how the learner journey has changed over the past year.
Learning reboot 2.0
With changing priorities at the workplace and employee wellness in the spotlight, new trends and focus areas have assumed significance and continue to be the dominating considerations of 2021. These include health and safety, mental wellbeing, security risks and data breaches, reputational risks, emerging from the pandemic, and restarting business processes. There has been an unprecedented focus on building resilience in individuals, teams, and organizations.
HR and L&D leaders play a vital role in building this resilience, as they can help employees learn and integrate all the traits of a high-functioning and agile organization. With adequate learning and support, employees can learn to innovate in adversity, demonstrate leadership, respond to stress, and lead through disruption with mindfulness. These traits and behaviors can be consciously learned and exhibited during times of stress.
Over the past year, hundreds of businesses implemented new practices and lessons for the new reality we live in. These range from practical and health-related training (like workplace safety and disinfection) to leadership and navigating the post-pandemic workplace. The disruptions caused by the pandemic came as a rude awakening for many enterprises, and that’s probably why the usage of Skillsoft’s ‘Digital Leadership Assessment’ tools went up. These tools helped organizations measure their readiness to execute digital pivots and identify gaps, opportunities, and strengths.
Organizations are focused on building leadership competencies that help managers build teams, cultivate the right culture, provide coaching and mentorship, be emotionally intelligent, and solve problems. Skillsoft LeaderCamps, a series of immersive and in-depth learning experiences from diverse people across the globe, helped leaders exchange knowledge, discuss solutions, and attend expert-driven workshops, and helped L&D experts collaborate. In other words, there is an acute realization that organizations must go beyond training to ensure that learning is relevant and practical.
The evolution of the learner
With changes in how organizations view resilience, mental wellbeing, and learning, learners' priorities and behaviors have also shifted. Here are the top five employee and learner trends that have taken shape recently:
- Pull-based learning: Instead of mandatory training and certifications, employees gravitate more towards immersive and media-rich platforms with engaging technology.
- Micro-learning: Instructional format and design have changed to enhance retention and application of concepts and knowledge.
- Curiosity-based learning: An increased propensity to understand concepts and learn skills beyond the scope of the primary role.
- Personalized recommendations: Smart curation and relevant suggestions of audio and video-based learning modules is the expectation.
- Learning communities and social learning: Informal learning avenues, like conversations with colleagues and team members, have become an essential part of the learning framework, even if they continue to be hard to measure.
Building resilience through L&D: Key takeaways
Re-visualize L&D: It is time to embrace a hybrid model of learning that seamlessly includes virtual and social elements and is embedded within the lines of businesses and functions, as opposed to operating in isolation.
Re-visualize learning: Learning is no longer limited to hard or power skills but encompasses multidisciplinary aspects of human identity. Learning must be aspirational and journey roadmaps aligned to business functions.
Re-visualize talent management: Learning must play a vital role in enhancing talent efficiency at an organizational level. It must, however, go beyond skill matrix frameworks and provide prescriptive enforcements that help balance formal and informal learning approaches.
Employees today are equally invested in self-growth, preparing for the transition, and future-proofing their careers. Programs that curate learning experiences for integrated learning journeys of developers and IT professionals have been highly successful in helping employees learn, apply, and practice new skills. Similarly, Skillsoft Bootcamps, another intensive and team-based learning series for professionals and developers, has enabled many organizations to reskill their workforce.
(This article is based on the roundtable discussion “Learning Reboot 2021: Employee Wellness, Organizational Resilience, Mental Health, Productivity & More” by Kamal Dutta, Managing Director, Skillsoft India, and Divyesh Sindhwaad, Regional Vice President, Skillsoft India, on May 20th, 2021)