Learning professionals are challenged to adapt like never before. Not only is there the backdrop of a tough economy, but there is pressure to deliver development more rapidly, more often and with much greater impact. In short, HR is being asked to achieve much more with much less.
A recent survey of HR and learning professionals by Lumesse revealed the full scale of the challenge. According to the survey, 75 percent agree that organizational change is happening much faster than just five years ago. However, only 53 percent of large enterprises — those with 10,000 employees or more — are able to provide the training and skills quickly enough to keep pace.
This reality is also reflected in the view HR holds of its own organizational effectiveness — just 10 percent of respondents in the Lumesse survey reported HR as seen as “extremely useful” by employees for skills development. More than 70 percent, moreover, of HR managers reported employees as viewing the function as providing little or no learning whatsoever.
Furthermore, employees are going elsewhere for learning. This shortfall has practical consequences, with 40 percent of HR managers in the survey claiming that employees would not seek help from HR if they needed to develop new knowledge or skills quickly.
To overcome this challenge, HR leaders need to adopt more agile learning strategies that respond quickly to change. Among these strategies are the following:
Use hands-on experts to deliver strong learning content geared toward today’s diverse working culture. By incorporating the most relevant communication channels — such as social media — alongside tablet and mobile delivery to improve engagement, organizations allow employees to access learning conveniently. This is especially valuable for an increasingly mobile workforce, where formal learning may be more incompatible with a role that takes employees away from primary places of work.
Continually fine-tune learning already deployed to deliver the maximum impact. True learning agility means that content should be updated as required to keep pace with changing markets, products and customer requirements. It also means that content authors should have the ability to amend, update and distribute revised content as often as needed. Checking the box once a year to say learning has been delivered will not help deliver maximum value.
Create small, collaborative teams brought together in communities of practice to design high-impact learning. Within any organization, expert knowledge is often limited or shared among individuals who might not work together regularly. By creating expert learning teams employers can be more confident that vital knowledge and skills are being harnessed and delivered to the people who need them. Doing so will help organizations and HR leaders minimize disconnect and time delay between skill needs being identified and learning deployed.
Thomas Berglund is director of learning at Lumesse, an integrated talent management company. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.