A one-size-fits-all approach to learning and development is no longer relevant or impactful.
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'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.'
This quote by Benjamin Franklin continues to be strikingly relevant. The learning and development (L&D) landscape has never been this complex, and as it continues to evolve into a new chapter, it is demanding out-of-the-box approaches from industry professionals. As we welcome the new year, it is clear that megatrends and the pandemic have changed the way we work and what we expect from a workplace. While digital transformation is fuelling business growth, it is also creating a need for talents with technical knowledge, specialized expertise as well as power skills such as empathy, self-awareness, and a growth mindset. The talent crunch and fight for talents in a limited pool are becoming more pressing with every passing day. Meanwhile, the emergence of Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting has spotlighted the dissatisfaction and lack of happiness among employees. All these factors are driving organizations to think of ways to revitalize their workforce with renewed passion, shared purpose and a greater work-life balance. Amid an economic downturn, the era of loud layoffs is another management challenge for HR professionals as companies rejig and trim their workforce to maximize return on investment. Moving forward, all indications are that the economy will slow, inflation will rise, and in such an environment, organizations will seek transformational change as they implement the lessons of digital and hybrid working. According to LinkedIn's 2022 Workplace Learning Report Southeast Asia, 91 percent of L&D leaders in the region have helped their organizations adapt to change. As part of Singapore's Budget in 2022, the government set aside US$100 million to scale up efforts to help companies implement concrete training and transformation programs, ensuring they re-skill and upskill workers effectively.
Digital coaching will gather steam as a tool to deliver change
Tools like digital mentoring and coaching have assumed a key role in enabling employees to deal with such a transformative change. The perception that it is merely ant for a handful of elite executives and massively expensive is changing with the advent of digital coaching, which has made it affordable and scalable for companies. For many companies in Southeast Asia like Sodexo, it is now a key strategy that many organizations are leveraging to execute against business priorities which include digital transformation. Because it is an impactful intervention for driving change and building new capabilities, companies will boost their investments in these learning and development solutions. The top areas where coaching will help drive transformation apart from leadership development, which is a key priority, include – employee well-being, women in leadership & inclusive leadership. It can play a pivotal role in offering employees a well-being and support framework to replace traditional, in-office support and classroom learning.
The gift of lifelong learning
Learning is becoming increasingly personalized and highly experiential. People will forget 70 percent of the information they learn within a week of training, and 87 percent will forget it within a month. HR practitioners recognize that just because people can now access a lot of learning, it doesn't necessarily mean they are converting the knowledge into real-life skills. Moreover, society is witnessing an increasing volume of information on the back of technology. A global survey by OpenText in 2022 showed that 76 percent of participants felt that information overload contributes to their daily stress. When we feel overloaded, though, the downside is that we find it hard and really difficult to do deep and quality learning. High-performing organizations foster a culture of continuous learning and take a much more holistic approach to training and developing their most strategic asset: their people, which is why L&D programs should measure both an employee's performance and improvement in their personal lives. The new year can be an opportune time to hand over to the employees the gift of lifelong learning. In 2023, the business world will continue to move away from multi-day training workshops toward shorter webinars and on-demand content. This "nugget learning" fits more naturally into hybrid work and the gig economy, though it increases the mental pressure for employees to squeeze more out of each day.
The underlying tension due to a multigenerational workforce
For the first time ever in human history, there are now five generations working together in the same workplace, like the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. Gen Z workers, owing to their global exposure, are the most racially and ethnically diverse and most educated workforce in history. Highly values-driven, this generation will push for changes in the workplace and in society. This means that they will be more likely to challenge stereotypes and demand more inclusive policies and practices. Gen Zs also value transparency and collaboration, which can help create a more open workplace culture. As digital natives, they are more likely to use technology in the workplace and bring innovative solutions to companies.
Middle management is at the frontlines in an office setting
Given all the shifts, interestingly, the talent segment most at risk is middle management. Middle managers are required to work virtually with all levels of an organization, from upper management to frontline workers, and typically form the bulk of the workforce. They're usually a key source of future senior executive talent pipelines that should be developed as they are valuable assets in critical times to managing change and operating through continual uncertainty.
What's next for learning and development
On the back of the challenges and priorities I outlined for learning and development teams, we will expect to see more digitization. They will increasingly rely on organizational data. L&D strategies and programs will benefit from insights around work patterns, communications tool usage and productivity. Meanwhile, on top of the increased focus on data and analytics in learning programs, L&D strategies will be leveraging other emerging technologies. The rise of virtual and augmented reality technologies, as well as advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), is now used to provide more personalized learning experiences. Gamification and microlearning are also predicted to be major trends, as they enable users to learn more in shorter amounts of time. Additionally, companies are progressively turning to technology such as mobile apps and cloud-based services to provide more efficient and cost-effective learning experiences. This places digital coaching at the forefront of business transformation and development, helping businesses stay resilient and up-to-date in an ever-changing digital landscape. Immersive technologies will become more commonplace in organizational learning environments. Virtual reality (VR) will be particularly popular in sectors where traditional training requires expensive equipment, such as healthcare, defense and construction. Other industries will begin to use more VR experiences for soft skills training, and early adopter organizations will use VR and AR (augmented reality) for some team events and conferences, reducing the environmental impacts of international travel. Broadly, a one size fits all approach to learning and development is no longer relevant or impactful, and a personalized approach has taken over. This is where the role of organizational data and emerging technologies will become more prominent as the industry moves forth. This article was written by Tim MacCartney from e27 and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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