“[We] could get the smartest people in the world to figure out the kinds of skills that we need to create for our workforce in the future, and I guarantee that we’re going to get most of it wrong, just because it is unclear how it’s all going to take shape. If you can create enough of a learning and entrepreneurial culture , I think you have the best opportunity for success.” – Hitachi’s Householder
In just a year, Learning & Development (L&D) has jumped from fifth as of 2016 to the second most important issue identified by business leaders in 2017. This radical change is influenced by three major trends:
- The half-life of a learned skill is now down to an average of 5 years. Skills are becoming obsolete at an accelerating rate due to the digital and internet disruption. Software engineers must now re-develop skills every 12–18 months. Marketing, sales, manufacturing, law, accounting, and finance professionals report similar demands.
- Content is available real time, all the time. YouTube, Udemy, and the unlimited amount of academic reading content online represents the cornucopia of learning materials that anyone who can connect to the internet can easily and freely consume. This is discounting the fact that any individual can also produce content online. It is now virtually easy for individuals to tailor-fit their learning plan and so there is a demand for the company to do the same.
- The next generation of leaders demand development. Millennials, who are quickly taking over the workforce in terms of size and influence, expect career progression and skill development as part of their basic employee experience. If they cannot get it from their current companies, they would definitely take it from a different one.
Companies are facing disruptive change brought on by the digital and demographic upheaval and the only way to survive in this ever changing market is to constantly learn. Business and HR leaders are expected to reengineer their L&D programs to fundamentally be entwined with employee experience.
Where can companies start?
Build a learning culture. Companies that practice a growth-mindset, create designed growth & stretch assignments, and openly discuss mistakes to promote learning are three times more profitable and have up to four times better retention than those that do not. Building a culture is no easy task though. It requires not only the right people enabling it but also a very strong managerial will and support from business executives.
Hire learners off the bat. More and more, companies are learning that building the new workforce is no longer about the employees’ formal education. Instead, it is about how they can adapt to an ongoing process of acquiring new skills and knowledge as fast as possible. Instead of simply hiring smart people, hire learners. Smart people are specialists on their field but are not necessarily as agile and curious as learners.
Learners are not only smart- they are also characterised as being humble, in a sense that they admit that they do not know everything yet so they constantly find answers. Remember that this would be the type of employees who believe that “Learning Curve is the new Earning Curve’. They will put prime importance on development, even investing on their own learning outside of what the work demands, because they know that this is the only way that they can progress their careers.
Take Millennials a bit more seriously. Millennials are known to be the least loyal generation and this is partly because of the developmental gap that companies offer and their expectations. Opportunities to progress as leaders, flexibility, and professional development training programs are among the Top 5 factors that make millennials choose the companies to work for.
If there is a mismatch between career pathways and employee’s developmental expectation, it would lead to people feeling frustrated and powerless. There has to be an element of flexibility in the learning organisation wherein the employees get the power to choose how and what they should be learning.
STORM Learning offers a Training Management System (TMS) and an integrated marketplace with over 2000 training courses to facilitate the L&D needs of companies.
e27 publishes relevant guest contributions from the community. Share your honest opinions and expert knowledge by submitting your content here.