With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, businesses across industries are embracing measures such as remote working and virtual meetings as part of their larger digital transformation initiatives. Among other impacts, the pandemic has been a catalyst to a swift shift in learning models. Upskilling and reskilling of working professionals have moved from physical to virtual modes. The shift has resulted in continuous learning, both formal and informal, and remote learning models are here to stay, as experts say.
Employers and employees are increasingly realizing the need for learning to stay relevant and competitive in the current scenario and even for the post-pandemic period. The need for rapid reskilling to remote workers is higher than ever. To ensure employers and employees have the capabilities required to work effectively in the post-COVID world warrant making significant investments in skills. Given this shift in skill requirements, leaders need to implement skilling digitally and in a way that is engaging.
The learning market amid this chaos
Over the last 6-7 months, the world has changed. A lot of people used this period to learn, renew, and develop new skills to prepare them for the post-pandemic times. All of a sudden people realized that there were too many ways to learn and too many contents coming from an array of sources. Digital fatigue started setting in with all these learning modes, courses from multiple sources. Learning and development managers started scrambling to understand if they were pushing the right content in the right format and at the right time. They were mired with questions like -- are they meaningful? Are these courses creating impact and driving the right behaviors among their employees?
‘’Most of the mature organizations in the market took this opportunity to reframe their L&D to build on their continuous learning efforts and they encouraged their employees to identify courses and skills that can really help them grow in the organization. Much of all this was driven by fear of missing out and relevance. So the shift that we really need to understand in today's context is that we need to steer clear of that randomness and focus more on core competencies and strengths to build relevance keeping in mind their long-term career goals,’’ says Kamal Dutta, Managing Director- India, Skillsoft & SumTotal, at People Matters L&D 2020 conference.
''Over the last few months, I can see more organizations are getting real in terms of designing a new learning framework that can help employees learn new skills, practice and apply them upfront, get feedback from peers to help organizations in their larger goal,'' Kamal adds. Another shift is that L&D organizations continue to struggle to putting that Return on Investment of learning in place. While ROI is important, if you look at many organizations in India, there is a huge amount of money being spent on classroom-based learning. Now everything is digital including learning. In the new shift, organizations are allocating consciously certain budgets not in learning but in human capital and travel discretionaries which are low yield and hard to measure. It's time to shift this capital to leveraging digital technologies which is underway in many organizations. If you look at the ROI challenge itself, somewhere down the line you have to move away from ROI built on formal learning to a more informal learning environment.to accelerate innovations. Amid all these shifts, HR and L&D are at the forefront of this. And there will be more shifts in the market as we come out of this crisis. So, overall, it's important to ensure that employees' goals are aligned with organizational goals.
The shifting learning priorities
There are diverse views on the shifting priorities of learning. ''On one side, organizations are allowing their employees to own their learning and pursue skills as per their goals, on the other hand, there is strict formal classroom-based learning. The answer is somewhere in between,'' argues Kamal. We have been talking about learning and business alignment for a long time. Today, it's about people alignment and learner alignment. The behavioral insights come from a learning experience platform and those insights can be crucial to ensure engagement with the learner. Also, because of digital fatigue, the attention span got lower. With people working from home with so much of calls and virtual meetings and working for home taking care of family, people are working more. In today's time, you can learn so much from sources like YouTube but that does not really build your overall skillsets. Where skills get built is based on scenarios, instructions, and designs in a platform that has curated content based on your needs, and that gives you insights and creates an impact on your overall learning from the application, practice, and assessment point of view. And hence priorities are shifting toward hyper-personalization, bite-sized content that is most appropriate for an employee. And that's where the real challenge for L&D readers come from today. People want to build communities of learning and building peer groups across the organization.
''So the real challenge for L&D professionals is to frame learning journeys for their employees which is engaging, meaningful, and can help organizations in the long run,'' concludes Kamal.