L&D in the New Normal: Roles & Expectations

Since most of us still assume that we are about to say #hellotonewnormal, let’s try to understand how some of the HR functions would look like in the “new normal” with particular emphasis to the Learning & Development (L&D) function?

“What is in it for me in the short run?” is one of the most frequently asked questions from a learner’s viewpoint. Along the same lines, their expectations are changing, and there is a need to provide answers through timely learning experiences.

We should understand the fact that we have four generations at work at any given point in time, so we need to take a blended learning approach—one size doesn’t fit all anymore. Older groups still prefer the facilitated classroom sessions, while younger groups prefer online learning. However, the one thing that transcends all groups is that they are strapped for time and resources—so learning delivered in more focused and shorter bursts is key.

L&D Solutions: A combination of Psychology & Technology 

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Business processes are in the spotlight for their flexibility to produce quick results. The L&D modus operandi is and will remain also under review, and this augurs well for the entire community. “Necessity is the mother of invention” is an old adage. With corporate mindsets changing, it has become imperative for the Learning and Development industry to go back to the drawing board and reinvent the rules of the game. In a nutshell, it is the combination of psychology from a learner’s viewpoint and technology that will define the next set of solutions. Psychology has posed questions, and technology will play a pivotal role in providing the solution.

Precisely, L&D is still going through dramatic changes over the past few years and will continue to be in re-engineering phase in the foreseeable future. Exactly as other areas such as talent acquisition, and other HR processes. Talent Management and Learning and Development are being radically transformed by the new market conditions, customer expectations, and the new need for a seamless employee experience.

L&D: Roles & Expectations

1. Higher Employee Engagement

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Employees expect a smooth experience. Digital excellence in this field leads to higher engagement.

Modern technology allows you to introduce industry and company specific customised programs, and self-service applications for L&D and other HR processes. Employees expect to be able to work at their own pace, and be able to learn on-demand and from everywhere.

Empowering employees to decide where and when to access learning resources increases engagementself-fulfilment, and improves the work-life balance. Employees like to manage their own career and time, that’s how they stay engaged.

2. Customised Content

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L&D gurus used to classify customers (and even employees) using broad categories based on standard demographics. Digital transformation enables us to access granular data and use such information to tailor both the customer journey and the employee experience. Employees expect to deal with tailored / customised experiences that perfectly match their expectations and aspirations.

Employees love to deal with people who mentor them and help them use technology. As mentioned above, employees want to manage their own career path and set specific milestones to achieve their goals. Newer IT applications allow talent managers to monitor progress in real time and make sure that their employees are gathering all the necessary knowledge and experience to achieve their goals. Again, also in this case, the entire experience can be gamified and provide immediate feedback to the learners.

3. Ownership and Purpose

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A well-designed learning experience is ineffective if it’s not connected to a meaningful goal. Employees need to see concrete results and get closer to their aspirational self, the person they want to become.

Employees in the digital era want to make a mark in the organisation. Recognition is important but it’s also important to show how their work directly leads the company closer to its mission.

In order to achieve that, companies need to constantly adapt and adjust skills on the basis of the market conditions and be able to communicate such major changes in real time and effectively.

By quickly communicating adjustments in the main direction, organisations should make sure that employees can identify new domains they can claim for themselves and work towards new and specific goals.

Quick communication, alignment, ownership, meaning, and immediate feedback create the perfect substrate for engagement and agile innovation in a time in which organisations need to quickly adjust their core mission and values to meet demand. This, in turn, creates the sense of purpose that spawns identificationloyalty, and advocacy.

4. Employees at the Helm

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We all are fully aware of how time consuming it is to acquire the best talent. We live in a time in which the job market is not only steered by giant players. The democratisation of technology is linked to the abundance of newer employers who may not be able to compete with well-established corporations in terms of remuneration and perks, but are exactly as attractive due to contingent conditions such as career perspectives, self-fulfilment, and employee experience.

That’s why personal development plays an important role in retention. Employees in the era of digital transformation are not just enticed by a good salary: they value the overall experience and the opportunity to grow. People want to make a difference and they want to have access to all the tools and resources they need to quickly achieve success.Even though major shifts in corporate strategy still derive from the top ranks, once the new expectations are communicated, units and individuals need to know how to prepare to face a new course of action.

Innovation usually starts in segregated pockets that introduce new skills and technology. Employees need to have constant access to knowledge base to design a proper plan and align their competence with the new requirements.

The whole process needs to be dynamic and employees need to feel in control at all time. Nobody likes to be perceived like a pawn that is controlled by somebody else to achieve their own goals.

Personal goals must be aligned with the corporate mission and emplooyees need to have the tools to quickly and seamlessly adapt.

5. Knowledge Transfer

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When we talk about leadership succession we often encounter issues with skill gaps that can cause disruption in an efficient organisational leadership pipeline.

A rigorous learning and development strategy can support successful leadership succession and allow employees to quickly move up the ladder to fill key positions in a rapidly moving structure.

Talent acquisition, especially for managerial positions, is a quite taxing and a laborious process. Being able to nurture and create new mangers within the organisation in order to expand the exisitng structure is a fundamental key to the organisation believes in “promotions within”.

Final Word

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The most successful companies are those that managed to introduce innovationcross-functional collaboration, and a fluid learning ecosystem that allows employees to work at their own pace while taking advantage of modern technology and tools (buzzwords being social, gamification, mobile, multi-channel etc.)

When it comes to learning and development, it’s important to have an overview of both expectations and requirements in order to be prepared to face the challenges that a new generation of employees and new market conditions bring in.

Learn how sometimes smaller things in our lives make huge impact and you can take some learnings on a personal and professional level by following me on LinkedIn and on our official website. Also follow us on social media: FacebookLinkedInTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder and Managing Director of Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan, At Evolve HR thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.

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