Navigating learning and development in hybrid era
A global study by HP found that Indian employees strongly favour hybrid working models as it improves productivity and work-life balance. This has resulted in modern business owners changing various processes, from recruitment to business development, to facilitate hybrid work. Incorporating more flexible, employee-centric policies will only help acquire and retain top talent even better.
Amidst these changes, it is important not to lose sight of the personal and professional development of employees. Unsurprisingly, this is easier said than done, as remote L&D comes with its own set of challenges.
In the bygone era of work-from-office, L&D leaders could rely on old-school methods to get by. However, the hybrid model requires them to think outside the box. This is exacerbated even further as employees are required to adopt a novel “always on” attitude.
Previously, addressing grievances was as simple as walking up to a coworker’s desk, however now employees are required to use their soft skills of remote communication to convey messages without the aid of body language or tone. Among other things, they are also expected to manage time between the blurry lines of a cozy bed and a makeshift workspace. These instances are demonstrative of the need for an additional layer of subtlety and competence that may not come naturally to most, but can definitely be honed by effective L&D programs.
The logistical task of getting employees scattered around geographies to attend an L&D session is only the start. Add to this, the lack of spontaneity that generally comes with in-person interactions and you have a behemoth task on-hand. This is where L&D leaders must step in with creative and engaging solutions that help invigorate the spirit of learning that employers strive to inculcate. This can only be accomplished through a proactive approach while simultaneously focusing on the following aspects:
Ensure you have the right tools
Expectedly, hybrid L&D tools were an afterthought for most businesses until the pandemic hit. This has resulted in the deployment of antiquated, low performance, and sluggish tools that often leave even the most tech--savvy employee feeling alienated and unmotivated. As such, L&D leaders need to be careful as to not tunnel vision solely on the subject matter of the program, but pay adequate attention to the tools and resources in place to interact with and engage employees.
Customise programs for your employees
Business owners can often see employees as a single entity when in reality they are anything but that. Each employee has their own quirks, likes, and dislikes.
Creative methods like quizzes - to understand the skills certain employees gravitate towards and the kinds of unstructured leisure learning they do - can help L&D leaders gain insights into the employees' interests and abilities. This information can then be leveraged to say, club together certain groups with similar interests and skill sets during training sessions. These common interests serve as great ice-breakers for genuine connections to be formed and heighten the overall quality of the L&D session. Additionally, these courses can also be tailored to individual employee skill levels, thereby handing the path of progression to the employee. Along with being a more inclusive solution, this also lets employees take control of their own progress.
Communicate its relevance
It’s a surprise to no one that employees value their time and if they think that an L&D program is going to waste it, they are less likely to derive any meaningful value from it. In worst-case scenarios, they may choose to skip it entirely. However, effective communication on behalf of the L&D management stating the purpose and importance of the session can go a long way in taming these concerns. It is also paramount to promote a culture of openness where employees do not feel intimidated in any way to approach L&D leaders with any queries that they may have.
Allow employees to choose what works best for them
As ironic as this may sound, long blocks of text are nobody’s cup of tea. Making sessions interactive with e-activities and images goes a long way in retaining attention and keeping attendees engaged throughout. If employees feel like their learning experience is being hindered by various obstacles, they are considerably less likely to follow through with it. Identifying and tackling these hurdles to create a seamless, convenient learning experience for employees is key to creating an engaging L&D environment.
Bearing these facets in mind when designing L&D programs will go a long way in improving its reception within the organisation. This approach may generally be slower and slightly more resource intensive. However the fruits borne are worth every minute spent. Upskilled employees are a valuable asset to any organisation.