UNLEASH’s head of content labs and insight, Kate Graham, chaired a roundtable session recently that brought together experts from all over the world.
Practitioners and consultants from India, Germany, the US and the UK joined forces to discuss the how, the where and the why of modern workplace learning and the organization’s employees’ relationship with it. Can we empower our workforce to learn anywhere? Let’s hear what our experts have to say.
To set the scene, we start with a question around strategy. How much is learning anywhere – and anytime – a consideration when shaping your learning strategy?
Guy Wilkins, senior digital learning and platforms manager at Clyde and Co, was first to pitch in: “It’s not just about consumption of material; to truly engage people it’s about the culture too, and for me that’s the empowering part.”
Going on to talk about behaviour, Guy highlights some interesting productivity trends: “We know that our people now use what would have been commuting time to learn, and we also see workers who are parents joining international delegates when delivering training virtually if it fits better with family schedules.”
Joerg Nueckel, program manager at Deutsche Post DHL continues, laying out a very simple goal; “We are trying to make the threshold netween work and additional learning very small.”
Dr. Swatee Sarangi, global head of learning at Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories asks a pertinent question from her employees’ experience: “What and how are people learning, and is it a collective learning effort? How are we making learning accessible and how are we democratising it? Tie your strategy to the organisational purpose so there is a case for learning.”
It may be an ask for everyone in your organization to buy into the long term goals of the business, but you can mitigate this. According to global analyst Shreesha Khare, in her experience timing is everything: “Mindset and goals are linked together. When we focus on the present is when we learn best.”
For Direct Line Group’s Simon Gibson, a cocktail of factors inform the workforce’s motivations to learn, for better or worse: COVID-19, choice, technology, and disruption. And remember, he says, “…content doesn’t always solve the business problem.”
Neither does training, says senior director of human resources at Revlon Inc., Deb Model. “People want the education but it becomes a battle to find the time. So, don’t wait for employees to take a training course, share knowledge with them and make them want to share it with others.”
Dr. Swatee Sarangi makes a good point about priorities: “Very few people learn outside of work hours. We have to put enablers in so that people follow through.”
And that’s the crux of the matter – finding the enablers that work for your people. And they’ll be different for every business. In truth, learning and development has never been more important for your organization. We all know it and COVID-19 confirmed it. An organization with a learning culture that is built on the needs of the learner, co-created with the learner, and informed by the learner, is an organisation fit to survive the new reality of post-pandemic business.
The challenge is first around building that culture and then – even more difficult to do – it’s about sustaining it. But is it really that difficult? Sure, you want to reach a critical mass where returns on your learning initiative are fed directly back into the business, and that culture is then spread throughout the organization across silos, with advocates at all levels sharing your message of learning utopia. Don’t we all?
It’s good in theory, but much more difficult in practice. But just imagine if you did nothing and neglected not only the development needs of your workforce, but worse, their calls? Put very simply, by Direct Line Group’s Simon Gibson, “If you are not developing and growing your people, you are out.”
As is often the case with UNLEASH roundtables, many prepared questions were left un-asked on stray Post-Its. The conversation could have gone on for another hour.
But there are plenty more events in the schedule, so do have a look at our upcoming schedule here.
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