Organizations apart and the learning methods

Companies are trying to stay track with changes and skills as emerging technology, such as AI, data analysis and workplace automation, are required. Moreover, the outbreak required firms to gain these competencies on a priority basis in order to handle long and short-term risks. These are several principles that businesses should follow in order to strengthen their learning to development activities (L&D) and keep the employees up to date with their best skills.

Companies with a strong long-term L&D policy will be more capable of dealing with short-term demands and adapting rapidly to new ways of operating. The L&D initiative should strive to develop expertise and capacity to use technology such as AI and data analysis and make improvements to suit automation.

Identifying a North Star for L&D decision-making

Organizations that are ideally ready for the evolving workplace are led by what we call a North Star – a major goal that guides employees’ abilities and skills growth decisions. 

Consider Novartis, a global pharmaceutical company that turned into a data-driven enterprise with a North Star to reimagine medication and change the lives of patients. Novartis defined five strategic goals to achieve this mission and created the underlying L&D elements to support them. The program is supported by a five-year commitment of 100 million dollars in learning and growth, aiming at spending 5% of their time on learning for all workers. It includes partnerships with learning platforms such as Skillsoft, GetAbstract, Coursera, and LinkedIn.

For example, the Coursera benchmark data helped the L&D team recognize the need of improving data visualization capabilities according to their data and digitalization strategic priorities. The team has taken a series of steps to strengthen these capabilities and close the gap, tracking performance on a quarterly basis. Novartis reached the industry standard for data visualization skills within a period of two years from the start of the software.

In the United States, Dell has transformed into a cloud-based infrastructure provider from a traditional technology hardware company, with the ambition that digital transformation is possible for its customers. This is the North Star of the enterprise and led Dell to reflect on its abilities. To achieve this ambition, Dell has established a new career structure with 23 key skills and a set of leadership standards. Those core skills in turn inform the L&D strategy in terms of program design and content curation.

Establish skills baseline

Conducting an inventory of the existing skills and capabilities baseline is essential. It contributes to understanding the existing strengths, identifying deficiencies in skills and taking steps. These audits must be carried out on a regular basis to evaluate the impact of the L&D programs and to consider shifts in the company’s business needs.

Align L&D efforts with strategic priorities

Plan new capabilities that will be required in the future systematically. AI and robotics are two fields where businesses are not paying sufficient care. This was strengthened during this outbreak, as firms that had not built these skill sets were lagging behind to deal with the epidemic’s impacts. At the same time, closely consider the need to invest in skills that were valuable in the past and that might be worthless in the future. An adequate strategy should also address the potential nature of the workforce and the part played by automation in the replacement of repetitive jobs and redeployment efforts.

Ensure the best expertise and tools for the L&D team

In addition to the skills of the entire staff, L&D practitioners are changing rapidly. The demand for technical and analytical know-how among L&D teams has increased, particularly in the areas of digital learning, virtual facility and online content curation. We saw an improvement in L&D professionals’ aspirations with regard to their market and management expertise as well as the coaching and consultancy expertise to fully participate and to provide strategic benefit to the company.

These demands led to a smaller, but more qualified L&D team that delivers greater market value than in the past. The team now has increasingly difficult discussions with market executives to ensure that the offer of content and even distribution modes fit business demands and requirements as a credible partner for the company. The team also continued to question obsolete perspectives on learning priorities and based L&D investments on the future. In combination with a strong market understanding, data analysis and visualization capability within the team also played a vital role in this journey. All team members had their work grades raised one standard in a recent reclassification exercise in order to represent increased contributions.

Technology also plays an increasingly important role as a platform for enabling L&D to support a company’s organizational strategy. In certain instances, technology will make humans more efficient and open to value creation. We watched the use of a robotic bot to plan preparation in 2019 at ICON, a national healthcare association of Ireland. The bot unblocked the ability of a full-time team employee so that the individual could concentrate on critical tasks. Other businesses have invested in technologies for upgrading learning management frameworks to equip L&D teams to learn before as well as after the crisis.

Design to adapt to changing circumstances

Economic downturns will lead to budget cuts and L&D usually ranks at the top of the list. This gives L&D teams a chance to move from traditional event-based instruction to the workplace learning process. Learning by quick, crisp videos and the workflow will allow workers to become more involved. 

Creating customized pathways for learning

Companies are increasingly abandoning a single approach for teaching, taking on a standardized basis of employees’ learning skills. By being more acceptable in virtual learning, it is useful to design a personalized learning path. This further represents the broad variety of tasks workers must face in today’s world. One important challenge is for the employee to consider what core skills are needed and how to access the material.

Stay agile over time and change

The pandemic chaos has shown firms how quickly L&D goals and needs will shift. This uncertainty calls for reactive and flexible L&D teams. Instead of achieving excellence in programs, the nimble L&D teams are thinking of placing a minimum product in the hands of consumers, evaluating the software and learning from experience.

The L&D teams first demanded to assist workers living at home within the first few months of the pandemic. However, the emphasis on mental health and well-being quickly changed to help the teams cooperate in new ways through virtual channels. This is an important change from conventional and sometimes very static L&D frameworks. However, the L&D teams who effectively reacted recognized that the availability of new data was crucial in reassessing decisions and priorities.

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