Organizations, due to major developments, such as the transition to modern market patterns, and the increasing introduction of workplace automation, AI and advanced testing are striving to keep up with new abilities in their workplaces. The pandemic accelerated those trends, putting an increased premium on learning and development (L&D) as a means of equipping companies to handle both long-term challenges and short-term crises.
In 2019, we completed our comprehensive survey and found that few companies have a competitive, prospective solution to L&D. Only 4 out of 10 respondents in our survey described future preparation as being their top priority and just 30 percent were optimistic that they will fulfill their future capability needs.
Creating personalized pathways for learning
Companies have also seen an increased movement towards individualized learning pathways that represent the broader spectrum of individual employee expectations and obligations as their positions in response to the crisis have changed. This is also an expression of a break from traditional learning pathologies, which usually presume a standard level of skill as individuals join an institution and follow standard career paths.
As the head of L&D in a European banking organization has said, “We’re in this age where people just want the stuff that they need. They just want it efficiently. ‘What can I do just to get this information, get it done, and move on?’” In particular, throughout the pandemic, L&D Linkedin Learning estimated that its traffic in the site was three times higher by late 2020.
A major concern for the L&D departments is to help workers grasp the skills that they need and how to navigate information. As part of its digitalization plan, PwC has created an application that enables staff to evaluate their existing modern fitness levels and recommends tools to enhance their performance. (The app is now open for the general public.) Technology has also been key for other organizations with LinkedIn Learning and YouTube offering bite-size content that are geared to urgent needs.
Design to adapt to changing circumstances
Economic reversals can result in budget cuts and L&D is usually at the top. This gives L&D teams the chance to transition from structured, event-based preparation to learning during the workday. Learning with quick, crisp videos and workflow will help workers engage more effectively.
Ensure the right expertise and tools are available from the L&D team
L&D practitioners’ skills are fast developing in tandem with those of the overall population. We noticed an increasing need for L&D teams’ technical and analytical skills, particularly in terms of digital learning, virtual facilitation and online content conservation. In addition, L&D practitioners have seen greater demands in terms of their business strategy expertise, as well as the coaching and consultative expertise needed to collaborate thoroughly with and generate strategic value for the business.
These demands led to a L&D team that is smaller but more competent and has an increased value for the company than before. As a more reliable partner of the company, the team now has more challenging discussions with business executives to ensure that content supplies and even ways of distribution meet business demands and preferences. The team also helped to defy obsolete perceptions on education needs and focussed L&D investment on the future. Data analytics and team mapping tools along with deep market experience have played an important part in this journey. In a recent reclassification process, all the members of the team had raised their work grades to a degree reflecting their increased contributions.
Align L&D efforts with strategic priorities
We found comparatively few organizations that regularly prepare for potential capabilities. Good examples are the AI areas and automation. Our findings indicate that considering their strong exposure and commercial appeal, these innovations were routinely ignored by L&D teams before the crisis (probably because of the significant demand to meet short-term priorities, along with a shortage of resources). Many organizations are continuing to draw up L&D strategies that over-emphasize previous expertise.
Instead, leading companies are looking ahead to and assessing their strategic goals, capabilities necessary to implement them, and the potential effects on their staff. For example, in 2019, the European insurance industry anticipated improvements in employment for the next five to ten years because of technological effects and other causes. It predicted that 15 percent of the company’s workers were likely to be removed by technology, and another 50 percent were likely to be increased by technology. This analysis provided a roadmap for rescheduling and redeployment of employees as proposed by the business. Some of these steps overlapped with more urgently needed measures to react to the pandemic; it was pushed in areas like claims handling too, for example, pushing the move into digital processes. The project offered a simple blueprint for digital and analytical ability growth by defining places where reskilling could be used as the most valuable means of redistribution.