Workplace Learning 2025 – Lighting the fire of learning

Six Part Series: Workplace Learning 2025.

Part 6: Promoting and nurturing workplace learning is a win-win for employers and employees

Personalised development plans (PDPs) are an effective way of fostering a culture of accountability, along with recognising and rewarding staff for exceptional learning and development (L&D) efforts or achievements.

So says Maria Ho, associate director of research at the talent development organisation ATD, who notes that PDPs are a “best practice we have identified as being associated with business and learning success”.

Armed with fully personalised, relevant, real-time learning, human beings should continue to outperform machines.

However, if the panacea of self-directed learning is to become a reality, corporate training must become truly employee centric, as Will Gosling, partner and human capital lead at Deloitte explains.

“To me, flow of work – where you equip your people with the precise information they need at any given point during the day – is the vital next step,” he says.

A good example would be giving contact centre staff live access to relevant video tutorials while they’re actually talking to customers; an innovation which would make the call more satisfying on both sides.

“It’s about empowering employees to become equal partners in the learning process and using all available delivery mechanisms, such as phones or webchats, to deliver flow of life and flow of work learning in tandem,” says Mr Gosling.

While the emergence of learning experience platforms as the natural successor to more formal learning management systems are expected to play an increasingly important role in removing existing barriers, some platforms may be more welcome than others.

Although Mr Gosling believes a more user-friendly approach, such as gamification, may earn its place in the L&D toolkit of the future, he believes the notion of playing games at work is still a stumbling block for many corporates.

“Gamification has difficult connotations, but it’s already being successfully deployed in the recruitment sector, where the desire to compete against other people is proving very effective at testing job candidates’ skills of problem-solving, for example,” he says.

“I believe there’s every chance L&D games will become more important as they evolve further.”

Training tussle

Despite the much-debated tussle between “chalk and talk” and online collaboration, Ms Ho does not see a mismatch between classroom and virtual learning.

“There is evidence that the two forms can, and currently do, coexist and in fact we find over half of formal learning hours are still in the traditional live classroom,” she says.

“However, what we are seeing is more and more classroom training either blending classroom and online modules or being supplemented by technological tools. For example, bringing virtual reality into the classroom or following a live class with social-learning among participants.”

While the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide “intelligent” feedback to learners is now well established, its role in L&D has to date been more weighted towards technical training than building softer skills, but this too could change.

Mr Gosling predicts AI will be used to build the human skills, such as team-working and empathy, which will become yet more important over time.

While a more nurturing role for robots is still on the drawing board, the US military already uses avatar technology in job interview coaching for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he notes.

Research shows that organisations which promote, maintain and invest in a perpetual learning culture tend to be rewarded with higher levels of employee engagement and lower staff turnover.

But as with so many things, leading from the top is crucial. “While top-down L&D can certainly be a barrier to learning, I believe that when senior business figures lead by example, participating in training themselves and acting as mentors or coaches, there can be a clear impact on attitudes to learning at all levels,” Mr Gosling concludes.

“Leaders can foster the democratisation of corporate development simply by passing on their own learning discoveries through the organisation.”

Action points

ATD’s Bridging the Skills Gap White Paper 2018 lays out six takeaways for businesses

1 Clarify and understand organisational performance metrics and map these to competencies and skills by identifying key stakeholders, in each unit, business function, region or overall, who will lend support.

2 Identify competencies and skills relevant to core strategies and performance metrics by pinpointing current needs and those required for a one to three-year timeframe.

3 Assess the gap by using a capability audit to determine whether this is in employees’ knowledge, skills or behaviours.

4 Set goals and decide which paths are appropriate for a particular gap, for example apprenticeships, reskilling, outsourcing, hiring, training and development, mentoring or coaching.

5 Implement solutions and monitor sustainability by prioritising solutions, securing funding and resources, ensuring senior leadership buy-in and creating personal development plans.

6 Communicate the impact of learning and development by being prepared to demonstrate how closing the skills gap has increased performance while improving productivity and reducing costs.

This report was originally published on Raconteur in association with Learning Pool. To view the additional parts in the series, please fill out the form below and you will be directed to the content.

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