The majority of organizations have struggled during the pandemic. A sole focus on efficiency has resulted in rigidity in workflows, structure, networks, and role-design. The ever-changing environment of the COVID era requires adapting to new working conditions… and quickly.
According to Gartner’s research, only 19% of HR leaders believe that their workforce can effectively change directions based on changing needs. The solution? Investing in learning and development (L&D). Companies like Amazon and PwC are planning to spend more than $700 million to provide upskilling and reskilling to their employees. But L&D is also changing its landscape and preparing your workforce for a new world and requiring new skills means a fundamental shift in learning.
The challenges of the changing learning landscape — continuous learning model
With the rapid changes to working environments, the gap between the current skills of the workforce and the required skills to do their jobs is also quickly changing. Simply holding an L&D session every 6 to 9 months and thinking you are providing the required skills for your workforce is not enough. To prepare your workforce, you will need to change the way you approach learning and development. A continuous learning model is an approach to learning where the working environment (resources, goals, culture) encourages and supports employees to learn on an ongoing basis while at the company. Agile learning methods, the ones that focus on speed, flexibility, and collaboration, will be the future of L&D. With that in mind, let’s see what you can do in your workplace to adapt to the new learning landscape.
5 elements of continuous learning you can implement in your workplace
There are five elements of agile L&D you can implement in your workplace to drive positive results.
We start with business metrics. Shifting the focus of learning means that the way that you measure it needs to change as well. New learning models emphasize the benefits — better customer support, higher sales numbers, a better retention rate, etc. It’s about worker performance and effectiveness instead of quantitative tracking of training content (courses delivered, learning hours, etc.) If you align learning metrics with organizational goals, your employees will be motivated to pursue continuous learning since it is tied to their business performance.
A survey by Deloitte reported that 74% of HR leaders believe reskilling is important for their business success, but only 10% believe they are equipped to implement the needed programs.
Reskilling requires two things:
- prioritizing short-term initiatives that meet the immediate needs of the workforce
- embedding continuous learning that will serve employees in the long-term.
To close the gaps, decision-makers will have to determine what actions they will have to take:
- reskill the workforce
- recruit skilled employees
- outsource the short-term needs to contingent workers
It’s crucial to integrate learning into the flow of work. Learning shouldn’t be something that you “attend to”, instead it should happen on a daily basis. To help incorporate learning into day-to-day actions, you will need to invest in environmental design at your workspace. Environmental design means making a task as easy as possible to do with the surroundings built in a way to increase the likelihood of doing that task. If you’re sitting in a workplace where every wall has hundreds of books on a subject closely related to your work, you will be more likely to read one of them.
Provide resources and time
The number of Gen Z learners on Linkedin increased two-fold in 2020 and they are also investing more and more of their time learning. Not only that, they watched 50% more hours per learner of learning content in 2020, compared to 2019. In order to boost learning, you need to provide resources and time for it. Whether it’s having 1 to 2 hours a week to learn or having a budget for books or online courses, you will send a message that it’s expected that employees continue their development and acquire new skills.
Lead by example
The final element to consider implementing for continuous learning is to lead by example. If managers and leaders aren’t investing in their reskilling and learning, then an employee won’t either. When you lead by example, you provide silent approval that learning is beneficial, that you should do it, and that you will be rewarded for it. Have your leaders implement life-long learning and your employees will follow them.
The learning landscape is changing and organizations need to adapt quickly. The skills necessary to do tasks are changing on a nearly daily basis and employees need to adjust. Implementing continuous learning in your workplace will help employees make that adjustment.
If you want to learn more about the changing learning landscape, please watch the Webinar that took place on April 20th, 2021. In this session, we covered:
- the challenges associated with managing enterprise-wide learning
- how your learning management system can be used to address those challenges
- completing a Talent Development Planning Audit for your organization