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Designing a skills strategy
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When the strategy fits: Building an L&D programme for the modern learner

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Creating a skills programme that suits the needs of today's learners can build organisational resilience in the face of The Great Resignation.

12th May 2022
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Almost nine in ten (87%) executives and managers say that their organisations are either currently experiencing skills gaps or expect such gaps to develop within the next five years. With new roles and responsibilities required in an ever-changing business environment, organisations must quickly respond by providing learning and development opportunities that are timely and relevant to respond to the organisation’s specific skills shortages. 

Addressing new problems with old solutions will rarely bear fruitful results. As the essential skills required change in accordance with new job roles and responsibilities, so must the training and development programmes that aim to equip staff with such skills. To address skills shortages within their organisations, HR leaders should design new workplace learning strategies with the modern learner in mind.

Today’s employees are habituated to a flexible approach in their work-life

Who is the modern learner?

Data from Fosway Group demonstrates that almost all (94%) learning and development (L&D) professionals have been forced to adapt their L&D strategy in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the outbreak in 2020, significant adjustments to the world of work were already in motion – the pandemic simply accelerated these.

Digitisation and hybrid working have transformed the way we work for good, as evidenced by the large number of companies opting to continue with flexible, technology-enabled working arrangements as we move beyond lockdown mandates. 

Today’s employees are habituated to a flexible approach in their work-life. When combined with the high levels of distraction that persist today, brought on by the dominance of social media and a globally shortening attention span, the average employee is more time-strapped than ever.

As a result, the modern learner has just 1% of a typical workweek to focus on training and development. HR leaders need to make that precious time count, by ensuring that workplace learning is valuable and efficient.

What does the modern learner need?

In a world of increasing distraction and impatience, HR leaders must design a training and development strategy that instantly captures the attention of their employees if they are to have any hope of addressing the significant global skills gap.

The modern learner requires non-traditional approaches to learning and development which make workplace learning a holistic experience, rather than an uninspiring, dry process implemented to fulfil training and development quotas. 

The modern learner doesn’t have the time or interest in taking part in long-term eLearning programmes, or full-day training sessions

Old-school eLearning just isn’t cutting it anymore. Employees approach learning in an entirely different fashion than they once did, as they find themselves working in a range of locations and increasingly fitting work around their lifestyles.

The modern learner doesn’t have the time or interest in taking part in long-term eLearning programmes, or full-day training sessions, but rather requires short, bite-sized content that gets from source to end-user in a matter of seconds. Leaders cannot miss the boat on this one; how we learn has fundamentally changed.

Creating captivating and relevant L&D programmes

Everything begins with content: eLearning has long been criticised by learners for being uninspiring, irrelevant, and unengaging. HR leaders don’t have to settle for this – creating new content may involve some legwork in the short term, but this will pay dividends for the organisation’s output and employee retention in the long run.

Learning should be highly relevant, punchy, and easily digestible. In real terms, this means producing bite-sized content that attracts the learner as it is both interesting and has pertinence to their job role.

Employees should always be consuming information that is directly relevant to their role – gone are the days of company-wide eLearning rollouts that simply disengage those who cannot apply the learning to their work. Presenting curated information to specific subsets of employees ensures that they remain focused, and their time is used effectively. 

Making learning fun, accessible and relevant is crucial to motivating employees to reach their full potential

A new concept to the world of L&D that further ensures that learning is engaging is ‘gamification’. Gamification involves applying game thinking to an activity, which in this case could include adding game show-style quizzes to workplace learning courses to allow employees to work towards real-time, measurable targets.

Gamification reduces the barriers to learning by meeting the modern learner where they are and offering a training programme that meets their needs, therefore increasing engagement and improving information retention. 

Making learning fun, accessible and relevant is crucial to motivating employees to reach their full potential. This is essential in today’s workplace environment, in which the Great Resignation has made offering a comprehensive learning and development programme a key aspect of employee retention, with companies increasingly differentiating themselves from each other on this aspect of the employee experience.

Organisations that update their people development strategy to suit the modern learner can be sure to become more competitive and retain strong talent.

Interested in this topic? Read Gamification beyond the buzzword: Why it's not what you think.

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