Learners of today no longer want one-size-fits-all training. With millennials becoming a significant force in the talent pool, engaging them uniquely might well be the differentiator for employers. It is common knowledge that technology today can deliver it – but is it easy for learning and development to do so? Let get into details,
What is learning and development?
Learning and development can be defined as a process to build up employees’ skills, expertise, and capabilities to enhance professional development and help them perform better. Learning and development training plays an important part in the professional development of an employee by identifying skill gaps and bridging them with proper upskilling and training. The new-age learning and development program comprises elements like gamification, use of AR and VR in training, microlearning, and other engaging methodologies which makes this process interactive and supports the organization’s business objective.
Advantages of Implementing Learning and Development Training
Technological advancements, complex business landscapes, geographical differences, different ethnographies, continuous market disruptions, and unprecedented challenges such as pandemic has made a strong case for the inclusion of learning and development as part of an organization. Learning and development is no longer reserved for only certain positions, with ever so disruptive market, not only employees but managers also need to upskill themselves to keep up with these changes.
With the inclusion of proper L&D practice, organizations can gain a competitive advantage, increase employee retention, improve productivity, build trust for the organization, and save costs on hiring new employees. In the next 5-10 years, millennials will be the major part of the workforce and companies need to develop strategies to engage them within the organization with certain perks and development opportunities.
Micro-learning and game-based learning play a major role in every organization’s learning and development efforts. The time long-time consuming courses and training sessions can exhaust the employees and cut down production time. Present-day social media has presented a great example of applying micro-learning into the core learning and development processes. With smaller bite-size content, organizations can have the wider attention span of learners and this also doesn’t eat up a workday or productive hours of employees.
Learning and development training based on gamification can also be a good case for organizations to engage their employees in upskilling themselves and learning new things. Gamification provides an interactive e-based environment where employees can learn, interact and solve a specific set of problems which further help them in learning a new skill and boost productivity.
Learning and Development: Scale vs Stickiness
In learning and development, trade-offs between scale and stickiness are inevitable. With limited resources (time, money, and people), it is almost impossible to reach everybody with great, personalized, and sticky content on time, every time.
Readers who have been in the trenches supporting a new product rollout or a new software update will agree that getting the training ready and rolled out to thousands of employees in time is challenging. As content keeps evolving in these situations, getting the base version ready and out is stressful, let alone personalizing the content.
On the other hand, such contingencies have also resulted in thousands of hours of level-one content in organizations’ libraries. Many big organizations struggle to categorize, archive, and search this database. Even if they spend the money to create engines to do this task, does the content really have many takers?
In the past few years, organizations have been leveraging managed learning services (MLS) to solve the scale problem effectively. MLS has been a great way to increase span without increasing cost. There are many other added benefits, such as standardizing content; centralizing training spends; addressing underserved segments of the target audience; and relieving the enterprise learning and development teams from doing tactical work, helping them to focus on more strategic initiatives.
However, even as the MLS industry has been burgeoning, supporting training in the “factory mode” a few exciting technologies have emerged. Augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), gamification, collaboration engines, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data are all geared toward making learning immersive and intelligent as never before.
The truth is that these technologies are still expensive, and creating a truly immersive experience takes time. The traditional models of web-based training or instructor-led training just don’t hold in these modes. So, whither learning and development?
These technologies are evolving at a fast pace. New devices, platforms, and commercial models are emerging every quarter. It’s difficult to see exactly how the future is going to shape up. However, learning and development can do a few things to keep them on course.
Here are a few “do’s” for the learning and development community:
Do start with the paradigm shift: Learning and development professionals should deeply understand that the wheel has turned a full revolution. We need to take a 60,000-foot view that encompasses changing learner demographics, business realities, strategic priorities, technological advances, and training philosophies to chart out a mid to long-term blueprint. Taking some time out to kick back and carve your consciousness is a good starting point.
Do sell it well: Paradigm shifts need evangelists. They need visionary leadership. This is the time for learning and development leaders to step up and integrate the function completely with organizational goals and create solutions that deliver results. This is an opportunity to involve the senior leadership team to envision the learning organizations of tomorrow.
Do work on infrastructure: In many organizations, the IT infrastructure has not kept pace with learning and development aspirations. Many implementations of gamification, AR, VR, and big data are hamstrung by IT limitations. L&D leaders should collaborate closely with IT to get the infrastructure up and running. It might involve upgrading the LMS. It might also mean finding a new cloud-based platform to augment the learning management system (LMS). It most definitely involves investing in new devices.
Do collect data: While training ROI has been a raging debate for over a decade now, there has not been much headway so far to create a sustainable way of calculating it. Big data and machine learning are here to solve that problem. But it is up to learning and development leaders to have the vision to create the models of ROI calculation. It might mean setting up your systems to do in-depth surveys, certifications, and dip checks at various points of the learner life cycle. It might also require a data scientist to look at data differently and meaningfully.
Here are a few “don’ts” for the learning and development community
Don’t flirt with new technology: If there is anything that can set you back a couple of years in your journey, then it is piecemeal experimentation. Work with conviction. Pick the right program, which will be the best showcase to the new mode or technology that you want to implement. Think it through. Plan out the implementation properly. Create a visible campaign around it. Measure outcomes in a meaningful way. Most importantly, be involved completely, from the top down in your learning and development program.
Don’t assume learning styles/preferences: “It’s not for us – our organizational culture is different” is an oft-heard refrain in the learning and development community when it comes to adopting newer methods and technologies. This is a misconception. To overcome it, talk to your target audience. Understand their needs. Study their preferences. Involve them in the process. Look for insights within your organization.
Don’t get stuck with volume: While there is wisdom in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the traditional approach (creating a large volume of content using rapid development tools and templates) might be keeping you from exploring newer ways of training. For example, in the case of software training, the approach has been creating “show-try” simulations, classroom training, and a sandbox environment. Instead, how about starting with a gamified sandbox environment in which users figure out the software for instant rewards and a place on the leaderboard? How about crowdsourcing content from SMEs and users? How about weekly virtual instructor-led training to debrief and clarify doubts? How about collaborative problem-solving sessions using the new software? How about finding correlations between the activity in the virtual sandbox and the success of the software implementation?
These are exciting times to be a learning professional because our aspirations and technology are finally converging. Let’s lead the change from the front.
To know more about learning and development training, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.