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What’s Brewing in the Learning and Development Space?

by Rahul Sinha, 17 Nov, 2016

“One of the principles of the future employee will be shifting from being a “knowledge worker” to being a “learning worker” – Jacob Morgan, “The Future of Work.”

Learning in the workplace is a constantly evolving space. Today, every organization aspires to be a “Learning” organization giving significant emphasis on “self-learning”. A robust, technology-driven and flexible learning platform that enables continuous learning coupled with a responsive, “ears to the ground” talent development strategy has become the holy grail of modern learning and development professionals.

In the past, training was conducted with a targeted purpose and an intent to build capabilities and hone competencies, with a one-size-fits-all approach. But with the emergence of global market competitiveness has necessitated a shift towards on-going performance improvements. The role of L&D professionals is gradually changing to that of “Performance Consultants”. It’s common knowledge that when organizations invest in Learning and Development, it leads to a more aligned, capable and engaged team which in turn results in better performance at a faster pace.

Technological advancements and arrival of the millennial workforce have added another dimension to organizational learning and development. Social learning, gamification, simulations, and MOOCs are some of the practices that have taken off in a big way. The Corporate Learning Priorities Survey conducted by Henley Business School reveals that different employee groups show different preferences to different learning methods.

But it isn’t an easy task for L&D professionals to keep up or evolve with the changing trends. Some of the key issues and challenges faced by the L&D community today are –

1. Content Development

Developing effective training content has been a constant challenge. On an average, about half of the L&D content is developed from scratch by internal or external L&D practitioners, two-fifths through adapting or curating existing materials and one-tenth is user generated content. But building content from scratch can be time intensive and modern business environments require faster turnaround time making it a tiresome task.

2. Flexibility and Agility

Change is the only constant! As we read this, somewhere updates to existing knowledge are being rolled out, new technologies are getting launched, and innovation is being pursued generating “value.” L&D practices that do not take this into account are prone to falling out of sync with the end objectives.

3. Building on internal competencies

Learning and Development is a crucial part of the HR department. To make a competent team that understands the nerve of the organization and plans & build strategic decisions around it is a challenge for every third organization in the market today.

4. Measuring ROI

Accurate assessment of the learning and development activities and initiatives continues to be a stumbling block. It has become imperative for L&D to be cost efficient and at the same time have a visiblility on fostering innovation, increasing organizational competitiveness and improving business results.

5. Business alignment

Aligning program content and learning processes with business objectives, integrating learning with work and ensuring maximum utilization of the L&D investments have become key parameters to judge the success of an organization’s L&D initiatives. Lack of clarity regarding business strategy and objectives can result in undesirable learning outcomes.

To overcome these challenges, professionals in the L&D domain are increasingly looking to adopt emerging trends such as –

1. E-Learning

A massive growth in virtual e-learning classrooms and social learning has led to a transformation in the way employees learn and develop professionally. It has opened possibilities for anytime, anywhere learning.

2. Learning Management Systems

With the advent of cloud-based platforms, Learning Management Systems are always evolving with new functionalities such as Gamification, Mobile Learning, Online Assessments, Analytics, Regulatory Compliance and Continuous Development.

3. Integrating learning and work

It is a fact now that real development happens when there is a robust mechanism in place to mutually identify the key growth areas. And the best learning is the one that takes place ‘on the job.’ There are very few learning programs that come close to the effectiveness of experiential learning.

4. Metrics

L&D professionals are now making extensive use of comprehensive metrics that provide insight into the effectiveness and value of training as well as justifying the investment on advanced technological platforms and programs.

In his bestselling classic “The Fifth Discipline”, Peter Senge identifies a learning organization as one where

(i) Employees continually expand their capacity to create the results the organization truly desires,

(ii) New and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured,

(iii) collective aspiration is set free, and where (iv) people are continually learning how to learn together.

It is clear that in the long run, the only sustainable competitive advantage will be an organization’s ability to learn at a faster pace than the competition.

To find out more about how Neeyamo can help in the evolution of your L&D practice, please feel free to reach us at irene.jones@neeyamo.com

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Irene Jones

HRO Evangelist & Thought Leader

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