In Conversation with Prashant Khullar on Learning & Development

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Learning and development, a subset of HR, aims to improve group and individual performance by increasing and honing skills and knowledge. We are privileged to have Prashant Khullar for detailed discussion on L&D, its significance in today’s scenario and L&D Trends for 2019.

Prashant Khullar is currently working with Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited as Chief Human Resources Officer and has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources with the hospitality industry. He has joined Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited in 2015 and prior to Mahindra Holidays he worked with companies like Taj Hotels, Hyatt Hotels and ITC Hotels.  

Prashant is also a visiting faculty at SP Jain Institute of Management & Research Mumbai, leading sessions on HR strategy and leadership development.

Q- What do you think is the biggest challenge HR leaders are facing today when it comes to Learning & Development?

Most of challenges faced by L&D Leaders today, I believe, fall into a three broad categories:

  • Lack of Learner Engagement & Motivation – In this VUCA world anyways people are pressed with time and to add to that there are lots of external distractions. Whether classroom or online there is a constant pressure on L&D professionals to keep their audience engaged and participate with full attention
  • Ambiguous Objectives – These days business context and scenarios are changing constantly. While L&D function is driven to fulfil the business objectives, at times relating every behavioral input on which L&D works to the final output becomes ambiguous and difficult to directly relate to.
  • Appealing to Multi-generational Audience – With the age of retirement going higher and with more millennial employees being part of the organization, it is becoming more and more difficult for L&D professionals to cater to the different learning needs of the varying audience. Whether it is the classroom or online content or delivery, the need for customization has gone higher and higher.

Q- What would be top 5 Learning and Development trends in 2019?

Industry experts have identified some of the key trends that will be influencing L&D strategies in 2019; I would like to pick a few:

  • Enabling Digital and Mobile Learning for employees to learn on-the-go and learn continuously.
  • Use of Gamification to improve learning engagement.
  • Use of Simulation to enhance learnability.
  • Weigh learner-centric training more than content-oriented training.
  • View and use Learning & Development as an employee benefit and bait for Talent Acquisition.

Q- Why is learning culture important and how to create high impact learning culture in organizations?

In today’s time business is evolving every moment. The need of the consumer / customer is ever changing and to add to it technology is disrupting the way we do business like never before. Skills which were relevant till few days back are getting obsolete with every passing day and thus need for learning new things becoming a need of the hour. Keeping all this in mind, it becomes very essential to develop a learning culture in the organization where everyone while is good at his / her skills is also upgrading to newer skills to remain relevant and continue adding value to the organization. While organizations are increasingly recognizing this fact they are struggling on how to create one. With millennials becoming the larger part of the workforce and need for learner based customization of training content and delivery. The way we need to look into this is that the environment in the organization should be such that it promotes learning and picking of newer skills to become future ready.

Few HR levers that can help us create such a culture are.  

  • Training & Development plan need to be formalized so that the same is taken seriously and rigorously implemented.
  • Recognize the Learners and reward / publicly popularize them to set examples for others to emulate
  • Get Feedback about Learning Interventions and continuously evolve both content and delivery to keep the same relevant, value adding and engaging for the audience
  • Promote Cross Functional Team Projects to engage Hi-Pots and give them an opportunity to work on newer things and in the process pick up newer skills
  • Develop knowledge sharing into a formal process irrespective of the levels in the organization so that ecosystem turns in a knowledge database for each employee to learn from one anther

Q- What role do you think technology play in L&D? How can technology bring about a change in the Leaning & Development lifecycle?

Technology has been disrupting every aspect of HR and L&D. From helping us with looking at Data and analyzing the same for better in-sighting and decision making to helping us into knowledge dissemination. Gamification and Use of Simulations to create a better learning system is the talk of the town. Today companies are trying to use this at every step of the L&D lifecycle.

Virtual Assessment Centers consisting of online inventories can be used to Hi-Pots and also find out Training Needs. Machine Learning and AI is being used for Text Analysis and being used to profile a person’s behavioral patterns and predict future performance.

The only psychometric tools can be used to find out Job Fits before we go ahead with a Hiring decision. Yes the human interview might not be completely replaced but use of recorded videos are being used for initial elimination and shortlist best matched profiles. Even for delivery of training content use of byte-sized learning enabled by mobile applications and gamification & leader-boards to make it more engaging is a critical aspect which every L&D professional is interested in.

One more area where Technology can be used is creating individual development plans for employees and then monitor their progress. This helps in assisting the employee and the L&D professional to be on track amidst work pressures.

Thank you Prashant!

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