Before digitalization swept through industries and companies across the board, employee learning was perceived as a casual, inessential element, part of an extended human resource blueprint. Its criticality was yet to be established.
Things have dramatically changed since then. Today, every function and vertical of any enterprise is impacted and transformed by a plethora of digital tools, solutions and applications. 85% companies believe they have just 2 years to successfully implement digital transformation before they risk losing out to competitors. Add to that, the modern employee is primarily a ‘digitally native’ millennial, constantly shifting across channels and platforms in both personal and professional capacities.
This new generation of employees is harder to retain, regularly looks at new job postings and extended roles, and doesn’t believe in planning too far ahead with any position or opportunity. In fact, 41% of this segment expect to stay in their current roles for just 2 years, or even less. They are eager to acquire new skill sets, garner greater expertise and look for new vibrant and meaningful roles on the road ahead. The big question is this: How does an organization retain, inspire and enthuse an employee, ensuring productivity is at its optimum and targets are successfully reached?
In this climate of flux, learning and development (L&D) is looked at as a game-changer. Companies can address all this disruption by enabling its employees to regularly upgrade themselves through Lifelong Learning, thereby offering workers extended roles and addressing the tech innovation at hand. L&D programs allow employees to improve themselves and offer greater value to the company.
However, there are certain roadblocks to this process. Every day, new technologies emerge pegged as change agents. Competition is constantly on the rise and learner expectations also shift in response to the environment. With companies across the globe spending USD 362.2 billion on training in 2017, the market’s poised for rapid growth.
It’s vital, therefore, for a company to select and implement the most fitting and effective L&D solution, which is high on RoI, shrinks time to value, and genuinely boosts employee engagement and motivation. Any L&D solution will require specific customization as per a company’s individual requirement. That said, there are several time-honored best practices that most intelligent and goal-focused organizations follow in order to identify the right L&D partner.
- Stay lean and agile: Typically, SCRUM and SCRUM variants are among the most popular agile methodologies that companies use to accelerate time to market, enhance productivity and improve adaptability. A best in class L&D partner will successfully combine core agile principles, SCRUM, instructional design best practices, and Lean modules. This will enable greater transparency, reduce time to value, and ensure there is alignment with the clients’ expectations. Agile methodologies can reduce launch/upgrade timelines by 50%, with one quarter of the number of software bugs.
- Self-assessment and organizational understanding: Before a company can select a learning partner, it is important to evaluate and demarcate every division’s current approach to learning. To begin with, companies must ask themselves a few questions:
- Is your workplace conducive to learning?
- Are clear and concrete learning practices established, and in action?
- Do your company’s leaders endorse a learning culture?
These questions will help establish a well-articulated L&D strategy, and later inspire employees to embrace new solutions and the L&D modules. Further, it will also help the company’s senior leadership appreciate the new solutions that are needed, gathering inputs and insights from workers and will intersect long-term goals with L&D targets.
- Setting well-calibrated objectives: Companies must concretize the long and short-term outcomes that an L&D program should accomplish. This can be achieved by adhering to the following:
- Well-defined timelines
- Clear and concise success metrics
- Regular and effective communication
- Staggered and sustainable process definition
An ideal partner must also stay in sync with these ideas and must bring extensive project management experience. Further, the partner must understand that one-size-fits-all is detrimental to L&D success and should gather insights on internal organizational structure, offering cutting-edge technologies and designs.
- Evaluating requirements and securing buy-in: Once a company has actioned this systemic L&D initiative, a partner should be able to help one drive the process by understanding how things actually work within the company, which are the areas lagging behind, and where transformation is immediately necessary.
This collaborative approach will help architect an intelligent workforce performance program. Remember, a blended curriculum providing an Adaptive Learning Experience is always recommended, bringing together formal and digital learning with on-the-job training and coaching support. This enables the L&D program to have a deeper impact at both the employee and the institutional level.
- Checking on proof points: The penultimate step is to carry out a comprehensive hygiene check investigating the veracity of an L&D initiative.
- Meeting potential partners
- Understanding their learning philosophy and research-backed methodologies
- Consulting on business culture compatibility
- Exploring the partners’ subject matter expertise and quality adherence
- Referencing credentials and previous track records
- Individualize your choice: The final step is making the choice. Remember, the right L&D strategy can impact employee engagement and performance by up to 41%. As said earlier, any partner identification must be pragmatic and personalized to a company’s specific needs. It may also vary from project to project, and from one time frame to another. By staying aware of what is really required, one will optimize any L&D program linking its goals with long-term business objectives.
A final word
These are the most common and easy-to-implement elements one must consider while selecting an L&D partner. Remember, in a rapidly changing and dynamic work environment, L&D programs are a must have and companies should look at these as value creators, both for their trusted employees and the organization as a whole. A successful L&D plan will propel employee productivity and hence, business profitability!