04 Pillars of Learning for Employee Experience in Covid-19
As the pandemic hit the world couple of months back, Learning and Development was one of the first and most impacted functions. The fraternity across the globe displayed remarkable agility and adaptability and geared up with virtual offerings in a matter of days.
In the initial days of the crisis, the focus of the learning function was on the short-term, revolving around skills for crisis management and business continuity. As the crisis deepens, with no clear end-point, it is essential that learning functions re-invent themselves once again. The short-term focus needs to be complemented with long-term focus; building individual and organizational capabilities to ensure future readiness is of paramount importance. To quote Billy Paul Ebenezer from his article “COVID-19-Induced Metamorphosis of L&D: Evolve or Expire” (trainingmag.com)
“For L&D to metamorphose and be relevant to the current time, it needs to fundamentally change the language it uses; the manner in which it approaches a business challenge, as well as the stakeholders; the technique it deploys to design a learning experience; the methods it uses to engage with the learner; and the way it measures the learning outcomes.”
This metamorphosis also emphasizes that the transformation into the world of learning needs to be complete, and we cannot keep lingering on in that bygone world of training. The customers of the learning function, namely the business and the learner lie at the centre of this world.
In this article, would like to focus on the important aspect of Learner Experience. While much has been said about Learner Experience, it is time to act upon it and re-look at its dynamics, in line with the emerging context.
The 4Ps, Purpose, Platform, Personalization, and Progress form the pillars of the Learner Experience. They need to sit on the solid foundation of Learning and Growth Mindset and the capability of Learning to Learn.
This starts by aligning learning to the business and learner needs. While we displayed agility in cracking the HOW, (how will we deliver learning virtually), the WHY (why are we doing what we are doing) and the WHAT (what will the learner get out of it) needs to be articulated very clearly. This is no time for generic, feel good efforts towards capability building; for eg. clocking in maximum learning hours or doing maximum programmes. This is also not the time for push; we rather need to pull them with the purpose. The answer to “how will this help me in current and future times” needs to be explicit.
According to Josh Bersin, Learning Technology is a 20 Billion USD market with a variety of players in it. It is time for technology players and learning organizations to come together to take platforms to the next level.
An intuitive, user friendly platform that enables one to learn anytime, anywhere, on any device, and with others, will be a key enabler. The platform needs to be the learning buddy and manage learning end to end. Also, it should be well-integrated with multiple other content portals. That is when the boundary line between organizational learning and personal learning, will start growing thinner, which is important for Learner Experience.
“Just what the learner wants” is key. Assessing the learner needs from multiple dimensions (for eg. role, interest areas, future aspirations) is important. And it is not just what they want, but how they want it, in what format and on what device, is an important aspect of personalization. While mass customization was a success some years ago, we need to move the needle further towards personalization.
For learning to be effective, it is essential that learners see progress on a continuous basis. It is about getting learners to set multiple, micro objectives, chunking the learning into bite-sized modules, and gamifying the journey. Defining key assessment milestones is another key aspect. And more importantly, how is this helping me progress with my current and future aspirations.
These 4 pillars should sit on the two foundational elements –
- Learning and Growth Mindset – this is a cultural phenomenon where the importance of learning is continuously emphasized, learning in all form is encouraged and senior leaders act as role models
- Learning to Learn – as an abundance of information and avenues leads to chaos, Learning to Learn becomes a foundational capability. It is not just about understanding the world of learning outside, but also gaining a deep appreciation of one’s own styles and preferences.
This crisis also presents a huge opportunity for the world of Learning and Development; it makes possible the much-needed shift towards continuous and self-driven learning. And learner experience will be a key lever for this.