L&D enters a new era of employee learning and development

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Prior to Learning Technologies Asia, RedThread Research explained how the role of L&D is being redefined in a new world of work.

With the acceleration of digital transformation being just one of many changes brought about by the pandemic, many organizations have been forced to rethink many of their strategies, systems and processes.

Retraining and development through lifelong learning has become a priority, even as large companies embrace new technologies, new tools and new mindsets to improve efficiency and employee engagement.

And perhaps more importantly, organizations are now starting to see employees in a different light. Speaking to HRM Asia Magazine, Dani Johnson, Co-Founder and Senior Analyst, RedThread Research, USA, described: “For over 100 years organizations have tended to view employees as cogs of a machine. or as human resources. Now organizations see employees as human beings in their own right, as individuals with unique needs who deserve to be empowered and developed.

As a result, organizations are now investing much more in employee development and empowering employees to make decisions on issues such as customer service or process improvement. They also move away from a single development approach and allow personalized development opportunities.

In this development arena, technology is also increasingly being exploited for better results, added Heather Gilmartin Adams, Senior Analyst. RedThread Search. “Better data, better integrations, and better AI and machine learning-based software are enabling learning technology to do more than ever before.”

For example, automata are now helping to eliminate learning and development (L&D) work, allowing learning and development practitioners to do more strategic and innovative work, Adams observed.

The “on-the-shoulder coach” apps provide real-time feedback to improve performance across organizations, and the “incentive apps” remind employees to practice key learning elements on the job, while that integration with platforms like Teams and Slack brings learning into the workflow.

Organizations are also deploying passive tracking applications that use latent data to provide employees with data they can use to improve. For example, there are apps that read a manager’s emails and give information on how to best interact with the employees who report directly to them.

As more technology vendors offer more functionality in more combinations than ever before, organizations are also starting to think more holistically about learning technology, according to Johnson.

“In terms of learning ecosystems, what are you trying to empower employees to do, and how can you intentionally combine various learning opportunities, both technological and non-technological, to enable these things? ” she asked.

With employees already using so much technology in the form of project management applications, email and chat, to name a few, they advised L&D to think about how to leverage the technologies available to bring learning to where employees already are.

Sustainability is also important, as ecosystems are “living things” that require maintenance and pruning. “L&D should think about not only what technology to add to the ecosystem, but also what is not being used, or which is duplicating and can be removed,” Johnson explained.

Redefining the role of L&D

While it is hoped that 2021 will bring greater stability to the workforce after a hectic 2020, it is likely that organizations will now have to operate in markets where they need to pivot quickly and continuously. In constantly changing environments, therefore, agility and responsiveness will be the key to success, said Adams.

L & D’s role is to enable this agility by fundamentally changing the way we work, as Adams explained: “We need to adopt a mindset of empowerment, not delivery. Forward-thinking training and development organizations focus on empowering and empowering employees, not providing all of the development opportunities themselves.

READ: Stimulating Organizational Growth with Learning and Development as the Focal Point

She recommended a six-step process that will enable organizations to achieve these goals:

  1. Plan: Employees should be allowed to plan their careers, both inside and outside the organization.
  2. Discover: Give employees access to experiences that can help them develop new knowledge and skills.
  3. Experience: Allow employees to practice and get feedback on new skills.
  4. Connect: Employees should be encouraged to connect and learn from other employees.
  5. Perform: Employees need to be motivated to perform better at work and learn while doing it.

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Within the L&D function, new skills have also emerged to provide and support new skills, according to RedThread Research. These include:

  • Product management: With the shift to learning technology ecosystems, L&D needs skills to oversee the ecosystem, understand integrations, negotiate contracts and ensure deduplication across all L&D organizations.
  • Data analysis: This includes statistics, data cleansing, data visualization and storytelling, and is often closely related to people analytics and business intelligence functions.
  • MarComm management: With so much learning content available and so much more vying for employee attention, it can be helpful for L&D to have in-house marketing skills to help employees find learning opportunities and motivate them to engage in learning.
  • Creation of learning paths: As learning becomes more and more personalized, L&D needs skills to help people navigate their unique learning paths.

Identify key skills for the future of work

As the future of work continues to be shaped by recent events, organizations around the world should strive to identify their highest priority skills based on their own environment, business strategy and existing skills. their workforce.

This will be critical as organizations need to be increasingly responsive in a future of work that emphasizes agility, Johnson said. “Responsiveness is the ability of organizations to recognize trends in the operating environment and effectively transform possible disruptions from those trends into a distinct organizational advantage. “

Citing RedThread Research conducted in mid-2020, she highlighted how high responsiveness organizations have a “significant advantage” over low responsiveness organizations in several areas including: employee engagement, goal achievement sales, responding to market changes, innovation and customer satisfaction.

Johnson explained, “Interestingly, this research found that high responsiveness organizations were ten times more likely than low responsiveness organizations to develop talent internally to a very large extent (49% vs. 4% of survey respondents).

“This means that one of the keys to the future of work is, first of all, to identify the skills that your organization only needs to develop, and then to develop those skills among existing employees, rather than attracting. new talents. “


Dani Johnson and Heather Gilmartin Adams will jointly present the main session on Tuesday, March 23 (10am SGT) at Learning Technologies Asia 2021, organized by HRM Asia. Click on here to register for the session.


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