Today, most organizations have a concern that learning is a push-driven approach. And the most critical questions that organizations raise are: How do we create a culture of learning? What are the key expectations of businesses from the L&D functions? Is there is a match or a mismatch in the way business perceives learning and L&D perceives the business needs?
At the outset, one of the top challenges of L&D & HR practitioners is related to the quality of employee’s skills. According to a PwC report1, 73% of all the business heads state the quality of skills is the biggest issue that they worry about today, where keeping pace with the technology changes is the second grave issue that has manifested as a critical priority for L&D heads.
Today, businesses want the new technology to improve profitability. And the key thing is how organizations find the balance between running the business verses making sure that they are able to look at what the future areas are. This balance needs to evolve between both the business as well as the L&D organizations.
According to Tarun Gupta, CTO, Cognizant, “Technology is changing and also the expectation of the business has changed. The ecosystem has changed. If you look at the last 5 years, digital technology has taken over a lot of things. I see the gap is especially in terms of the people they are the asset of our company, and they represent the company to the client and bring business. In this respect, their skills are very important. We want to be the business partner with the customer for that we need higher skills; we need the person to think at the next level. That’s where I see the gap the person who, let's say, has done a lot of coding and designing, project work, how is that person able to build his/her career in terms of dealing with the new problems. With the changing time people need to be reskilled and encouraged to learn new skills. Thus from a business perspective, how does an organization keeping pace with this and giving demand to the L&D Team. As a business unit, it is our duty to inform the L&D team well in advance to create the courses, ecosystems and frameworks to deliver JIT solutions as well as the ecosystems. I see that the business has the challenge to give L&D and HR the space & time to deliver on those needs.”
Arun Rajamani, Country Head & General Manager at Pluralsight India Pvt Ltd, highlighted that “The existing people who are experienced need to go through future learning areas in addition to what they were doing as a part of their existing role. But here is where the complexity starts to come in. Thus the key focus area is transformative learning across the board, which puts a lot of pressure back on L&D because they have to look at taking alignment of business back to the core areas of execution and also have to look at what they have to deliver back to the business.” Today, the traditional models of learning that are being executed in organizations have been redundant as 80% of the employees believe that learning is not happening in the class room but actually happens on the job, and yet 70% of the people still state that they still have skill gap challenge.
So how do organizations approach this? Most of the organizations have gone in with instructor-led training. Some of them have gone into a model where they start maintaining a balance between the portfolio & the instructors and having self-paced learning. A few organizations have gone into the next phase which is the free market place concept where they provide employees the choice. Online assessments, mentorship or mobile learning - all of these are becoming important aspects of the learning experience of an individual and help in maximizing the learning experience which leads to increased learning effectiveness.
But what can be done to ensure that learning is small but continuous? Rajamani emphasizes that “With the younger crowd coming in, it is not as much about course completion but about making sure that it is bite sized learning because people cannot sit for extended durations. On an average, the concentration level of an individual is not more than 2.5 minutes. Thus, the question that arises here is, how do you make sure that the person is able to get the maximum learning in those 2.5 minutes, whether it is delivered by an instructor, through a mentor or through self-paced model. The mechanism of effectiveness is shifting out of course completion to the knowledge that a person actually gains and how he/she reflects that back into his/her job. It is estimated that 80% of the learners do not complete their courses.” But this can be tackled by integrating gamification along with trainings so that people can be rewarded on completion of training, which also encourages them to complete the training on time.
Increasingly it is being realized that people want to learn, but how, is what needs to be figured out. And the move from being the problem-solving arm of the delivery team to becoming the opportunity creating arm of the organization is where L&D’s future is. “What is in it for me” has to be put very clearly on the table by the L&D function that aligns with the business goals. If this is achieved, the sustainability of managing that program could be little higher.
The key is to support the learning team to align to business success better. Arun Rajamani states that “The key is to not make learning prescriptive, but guiding individuals and leaving it to them to decide and making sure that people are able to learn according to their individual aspirations & organizational aspiration, which shouldn’t come as a mandate.” On similar lines, Rajeev Kumar, VP-HR, NIIT stressed on the fact that, “Learning should be positioned for strategic relevance and sustenance.” Today, the approaches to learning and upskilling have changed. The need to look proactively at not just what the client wants but also to what the employee wants is imperative. When we expect customers and employees to be tech savvy, our solutions need to be right. Thus, learning should be a business need and not a task. Today, organizations see it as an expense than a business need. As Kanchan Ray, VP Technology at Nagarro puts it aptly, “I think the journey is more important than the end. At every point of that journey we need to answer that question of ‘what is in it for me’. There has to be an element of learning as a team sport. It is not an individual activity, so there has to be that element of team sport ship.”
The article has been compiled from the Pluralsight & People Matters RT that took place on 31st August in Gurgaon.
(Story compiled by Shweta Dixit and edited by Suparna Chawla Bhasin)