By Ashok Serrao, Nov 01, 2015
In our current challenging and competitive business environment, learning and development has never been more significant as a means to keep employees engaged and maintain that competitive advantage
The real learning for an individual, to craft out their ability, is when they encounter real life situations, learn to learn from them, seek guidance and coaching from within to help manage those situations
An engaged workforce that possesses the necessary skills, knowledge, and expertise is crucial for any organization that wants to achieve a high range of business success. In our current challenging and competitive business environment, learning and development have never been more significant as a means to keep employees engaged and maintain that competitive advantage.
The right training and development can greatly enhance employee engagement by nurturing talent and helping people to learn new things and improve their performance. Most employees want to feel that they are doing a good job and that they are valued by their organization for the part they play. In addition, few people like to remain static in a work environment and prefer to have variety in their work and see development potential in their role. L&D provides a way to address all of these human needs and greatly improves employee engagement. Companies who invest in their workgroups through training and development are also viewed more favorably by employees than those in organizations that don’t. However, if training and development are to make a significant impact on employee engagement, employees must see the benefits to themselves of undertaking training activities. This is where many good intentions fall short.
In order to harness the positive effects of training, employees have to see the link between where they are now and where they want to get to and how training is going to bridge this gap. It sounds obvious but without this being made explicit, organizations run the risk of training and development being viewed as a chore instead of a reward. There comes the necessity of linking training and development to specific objectives. The only way to make this work effectively is for managers to have interpersonal conversations with their people about the purpose of training and what’s in it for them. Enquiring people what they think they need and setting specific learning objectives is crucial at this stage. Learning and development will then provide the means to motivate and engage employees like never before. People will feel valued for their contribution and they will understand that the organization supports them to bring the best that they can be. Developing people is the key to develop an engaged workforce and thereby achieving business success.
As per a Gallup survey, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Gallup’s researchers studied the differences in performance between engaged and actively disengaged work units and found that those scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly doubled their chances of success compared to those in the bottom half. They also reported 21% improved productivity, 22% improved profitability, and 10% improved customer satisfaction. Modern learners want choice, breadth, flexibility, and technology-enabled learning.
Comprehending Contemporary Learners
In an era of the rapid proliferation of technology and newer modes of communication, it is imperative that the Human Resource department within an organization understand the role these inherent factors play in defining newer Learning & Development modules. The starting point for Learning and Development has to be looking at its learners, understanding their needs and preferences, and what motivates them. Today’s learners expect a lot of choices; need to learn at their own pace and on their device of choice. With recent technology advancements and the rapid adoption of social collaboration, learning and development have come a long way. Learning and Development need to design technology-enhanced learning interventions that really engage with learners and support their inquisitive minds. Companies should consider the use of mobile technology, adoption of social learning tools, alignment with corporate objectives, use of adaptive learning principles, and the ability to measure effectiveness.
- Going Mobile - Mobile has transformed the way companies work, interact, and collaborate. Despite this reality, companies are still slow to embrace mobile learning solutions. Most companies recognize that mobile learning solutions can improve adoption, expand global reach, and engage users better, but do not understand how to execute a mobile strategy. Additionally, some organizations find it challenging to determine what options are available and which providers to consider. Regardless of the barriers, they are facing, organizations looking to improve their learning functions will need to make mobile part of the equation and determine what requirements they have in order to select a technology partner.
- Employing Social gears - Companies are quickly embracing social media tools, as well as investing in social collaboration tools to better engage employees and foster a learning culture. Although social media has become the mainstream, companies still lack the knowledge and insight around how to utilize these tools for learning and development. One reason is that some companies are limited in the social tools they are using. Many of them are using document sharing, discussion forums, and blogs, but only a few are using video or micro-blogs—which are more effective to improve learning functions. Organizations must educate themselves on the value of social learning and invest in providers that offer solutions that drive business outcomes.
- Considering Adaptive Learning – You can employ adaptive learning by breaking outdated methods. It has advantages for younger generations entering the workforce that have expectations around flexibility and interaction.
- Aligning with Business Objectives - The learning of the future must be closely aligned to overall corporate strategies in order to achieve results. Any program or technology investment should involve input from business leaders to ensure that learning is driving retention, engagement, and performance.
- Assessing Effectiveness - To determine if the learning strategy in place is driving business outcomes, companies must find a way to consistently measure its effectiveness. Companies should determine metrics in advance and include both business metrics and learning/HR metrics. Currently, most companies are considering team encouragement, employee engagement, and employee satisfaction over more concrete business metrics such as retention, turnover, and revenue per full-time employee.
Successful organizations are more forthcoming in supporting learners’ career aspirations, allow access to a broad range of non-job related learning, and allow staff to learn at places convenient to them. Having a learning culture is the key to the New Learning Agenda. To achieve it, organizations have to support and encourage collaboration. Learners are already using technologies to communicate with each other, connecting to internal and external networks. Organizations need to facilitate this, supporting learning communities and action learning sets. The entire organization needs to believe in and support a technology-enabled learning culture. Business leaders and managers need to champion it and the learning successes of individuals and teams need to be celebrated.
The real learning for an individual, to craft out their ability, is when they encounter real-life situations, learn to learn from them, seek guidance and coaching from within to help manage those situations. There is no substitute for it. More and more companies are moving towards identifying high potentials not only to train them to prepare for the future but to create a pool of people, who could be used for critical and high-impact assignments. They provide these opportunities to these high potentials to face challenging situations create stretch goals and put their potential to test. Well, for a human being life really begins at the end of his comfort zone where he expands anonymous horizons with a will to succeed. Likewise, our corporates can be brought forward by the innovative workforce well-guided by the new landscape of the corporate learning environment.
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