In our uncertain and dynamic world, every now and then, methods acclaimed to be modern and efficient are being challenged; tectonic changes are taking place around us. Rugs under our feet are being pulled off frequently. New possibilities are staring at us.
The only way to progress is to recognise these changes and be agile in grabbing the opportunities. Henry Ford had famously said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” What can businesses do to keep their employees young?
Our workforce is now composed of an increasing number of people from GenY and GenZ. Work processes are increasingly digitised and human communication has slowly moved from in-person contacts to video calls and asynchronous methods such as chats. We pick up our smartphones 50+ times a day and spend 3+ hours a day on the phone.
Many times, our phone distracts us because our mindset is gripped by a feeling that we might be missing out on knowing some information or responding to someone promptly. Given the pandemic situation, many people have started using their smart devices much more than what they used in the past. And they are delivering on their work-related assignments while they continue to remain distracted by the notifications and sometimes, the mere presence of many other apps on their phones.
How do we help our employees in learning?
Organisations in modern times have to rely on the innovativeness, customer-centricity and commitment of their employees. Gone are the days when senior leaders take action based on the insights they gather and their beliefs. Workplaces have evolved a lot more collaborative because they now believe that the employees across the rank-and-file bear tremendous potential that can be unlocked to generate significant value. As employees interact with the stakeholders of the business, a lot of insight gets generated there and must be leveraged.
We need to invest in building the capabilities of our employees. Firstly, we have to help them understand and appreciate the value of learning continuously. Secondly, we have to provide them content that is appealing to them, convenient for consumption in the manner they like and relevant. For example, some people learn well by watching others do it and hence, we have to give them video tutorials. Some want to learn from principles, theories and logical reasoning. So, we need to provide the same content in long-form articles and case studies. Most employees want the flexibility to choose when they want to learn and for how long at one go. Hence, we have to design a significant part of the content in such a way that can be consumed at the convenience of the employees.
Thirdly, our environment is full of distractions; hence, our attention spans are low. Hence, we have to impart the training in small snippets, otherwise called microlearning methods. We have to break up the learning objectives into small bits of learning so that they can understand the nuances of skill from these microunits of content and practise them accordingly.
Finally, we have to make sure that employees find it relevant and competitive to learn. So, leader boards need to be published and employees leading the boards need to be recognised and rewarded suitably. Results of the capability enhancement have to be showcased so that many employees feel inspired and attracted towards learning and staying young.
Is e-learning the only way for the current times?
Knowledge and perspectives can be shared by videos, talks and essays. Sometimes, we can get the learners on a digital platform to discuss a topic, hold online quizzes or run competitions so that they can appreciate the concept, gain knowledge and perspectives.
When it comes to learning a skill or practising some nuances and discovering one’s latent potential, one needs continuous grooming and coaching. E-learning is not the method one can rely on to achieve these objectives. People have to learn the skills from their managers or mentors by observing their behaviours, participating in the projects their managers lead and leading some projects their managers are interested in. Rigorous execution of these learning methods makes a huge difference in the learning of new capabilities and personal development.
For the times we live in and the next few years, to create a growth-oriented environment and supercharge employees, we need a blended approach, a significant part being microlearning.