Chief People Officer FutureLearn
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How a diverse learning and development offering boosts workforce resiliency

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In the face of challenging circumstances over the past year, employees have had to develop resilience. To continue building this skill in the future, employers must offer more personalised and flexible L&D opportunities. 

14th Jul 2021
Chief People Officer FutureLearn
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During the upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve learned from our employees that flexibility and a diversity of options are key in creating a modern workplace and that flexibility is best when it goes two ways. One perhaps extreme but certainly attention-worthy example, an EY survey, found that more than half of employees globally would consider leaving their job post pandemic ‘if they are not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work’.

We have a unique opportunity to move from the traditional role of the ‘sage on stage’ who knows-it-all and has-it-all (content, LXPs, learning consumption metrics) to that of a coach and guide. 

We can now match our considered, hybrid, flexible working practices with an environment where employees are given the freedom to be curious and inspired by a much broader range of exciting learning and development opportunities.

L&D leaders can start now. We have a unique opportunity to move from the traditional role of the ‘sage on stage’ who knows-it-all and has-it-all (content, LXPs, learning consumption metrics) to that of a coach and guide. We know that there is demand for this from the global workforce, with the Future of Learning report revealing that over a third of employed adults believe learning could boost their professional confidence. The abundance of online content can be overwhelming, however, and learners need to make sense of how online resources enable them to increase their skill level and what it takes to actually apply those skills in the day-to-day context.

Starting with a culture that encourages choice

Employees need to feel part of a culture in which learning and experimentation include failure as part of the formula. Moving away from prescribed learning and development, and introducing increased freedom to choose will allow companies to start moving in the right direction. The past year has seen many businesses thinking about how to create the safest, most fit-for-purpose and flexible conditions for each of their employees to thrive, and learning and development can be an intrinsic part of this.

Zsolt Olah, manager of digital learning and experience workforce development at Amazon Web Services, WWPS explains how L&D leaders can view their responsibility for creating a learning environment in The Future of Workplace Development report by Emerge Education:

“We are not responsible for their [professional services consultants] ‘learning’. We are responsible for the most effective conditions. They are responsible for active participation, application on the job. We don’t define learning as a course or content. Our responsibility is to find the most effective solution (sometimes a course is part of it) to enable performance. This is only possible if the role of L&D is more embedded in the business”.

I couldn’t agree more, and we have the opportunity to embed the role of L&D into the very fabric of company culture. We must aim to create spaces that encourage and celebrate upskilling and reskilling, where employees feel more in control of their learning paths, and have real autonomy and choice over what, how and where they learn. This includes a flexibility of learning budgets where at least 20-30% should be set aside for learning what people want versus what the company prioritises.

reskilling hub link

Flexible, digital and social learning resources as part of the solution

Bite-sized courses and mini qualifications can provide real flexibility to employees who have embraced the opportunity to try something new but don’t have lots of time. Professor Susan Elliott, deputy vice-chancellor and senior vice-president (education) at Monash University introduced the ‘laser learner’ to us, in the Future of Learning report: “The rise of doing additional learning to accelerate or pivot your career has to become more common and also the rise of the laser learner who needs another bite of knowledge, a new skill, a new insight into whatever it is that’s come into their world”.

Undertaking a number and range of these types of courses through the year can fit flexibly around our new hybrid working environments. The unique benefit to these types of products is their ability to bring cohorts of learners together regardless of location or time zone.

Creating the resilient and robust workforce of the future

In a jobs market where 21% of UK adults expect to be in a different industry by 2030, we are inevitably looking at the rise of the generalist, and soon the individuals in our talent pools will proudly demonstrate a whole range of skills and experience rather than training in one niche area. We can get ahead of this inevitability by embracing this change, and welcome it into our industries by encouraging our employees to develop a breadth as well as a depth of skills.  

By creating this experimental and flexible culture, our people are more likely to become more resilient and agile. The last two years have taught us that resilience will go a long way (longer than one might have hoped or expected).

Interested in this topic? Read Re-imagine, reconnect, realise: why purpose is essential to learning in the hybrid working world.

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