Millennials are in the workforce in force, and employers are struggling to adjust to the shift in demographics. This new generation of digital natives comes to the workplace with a different set of expectations. They grew up with digital tools that are intuitive and always at their fingertips. Meanwhile, baby boomer and Generation X employees will wonder if they are positioned to win or lose in this new world where workplace culture, corporate structure and so many other workplace facets are transformed to cater specifically to them.
In 2017 and beyond, learning leaders will play a significant role in engaging five workforce generations. They’ll need to readjust learning strategy and programming to support more than just compliance, using the right technology and systems to appropriately reskill and right-skill workers. In a dynamic business environment where automation and machine learning are changing jobs and employees are seeking more diverse work experiences, CLOs will need to create a sustainable and collaborative culture of learning to meet both employee and organizational needs.
Reskilling the workforce requires a shift in mindset. CLOs will need to embrace content curation and move away from being conduits for organization learning. The following three strategies can serve as a guideline for those looking to reimagine their learning programs.
- Personalize employee learning experiences. It’s more important than ever to deliver content in a way that’s personalized and similar to the content employees view on their personal devices; think Netflix and Facebook. For example, offer recommendations on content based on interests or new job roles to make sure content is relevant.
Technology will play a huge role in this area; systems will need to be smarter, more intuitive, and more connected to filter, target and deliver content that reflects each individual employee’s specific needs and interests.
Tailored, relevant learning promotes greater engagement; employees are encouraged to keep learning. They’ll be interested in expanding their skillsets, competencies, and capabilities rather than wait for training to be assigned.
Although technology is helpful, ultimately the CLO sets up the rules and business processes for learning and development content. Essentially, human judgment — good decisions based on solid data — is still a vital part of the curation process. But now, the CLO can step back and think about learning more strategically, moving learning from a cost center to a business enabler.
- Enable the (l)earning curve. The farther someone advances their formal education, the better their earning power. The same holds true at work. “Chameleon employees” who are always ready to learn and evolve to meet new challenges are going to see their stock rise in a world that is increasingly dynamic.
According to analyst Josh Bersin, “The learning curve is the new earning curve.” Bersin by Deloitte research shows that, on a business level, employment brand and the ability to attract and engage people are now directly related to learning.
Organizations will need to harness the power of innovative systems that offer a variety of learning experiences to engage and retain employees. As workers expand their knowledge base, managers can more effectively step in to suggest new roles to keep people engaged, and suggest other content to reskill and right-skill workers as needed to help them better manage daily work.
- Crowdsource employee knowledge. As the skills shortage grows, companies need to have learning technology in place that can capture and store employee knowledge on the business. This is easily achieved via user-generated content. For example, an employee could share simple directions on how to navigate onboarding on the first day of work. On the flip side, employees want to be recognized for sharing their knowledge to colleagues as a way to build reputational capital. Having the organization’s collective wisdom in one repository streamlines knowledge distribution among the workforce and eliminates the need to duplicate efforts as employees move into new roles.
Much like social media sites or YouTube, users — whether they create content or not — become an integral part of the curation process. Highly rated learning content can move to the top of people’s recommended watch list, and CLOs can examine trends from across departments and geographies to better understand what’s resonating and glean best practices in content creation.
For example, some employee segments might prefer blogs to videos, whereas others prefer videos, but only if they’re short. This means when it’s time to make sure compliance content is consumed, the CLO can specify that five, two-minute videos are pushed out over the work week instead of sharing one 10-minute video that will rarely be watched in its entirety.
Learning needs to evolve with technology innovation, organizational imperatives and workforce demands. To retain and attract talent, meet different needs for different generations, and understand that learning is a two-way street — a learning ecosystem where people actively participate in not just their learning, but learning for employees across the company. Learning leaders are no longer conduits who push a trickle — or firehose — of content to passive employees. Instead, every learner helps in a curation process ultimately overseen and orchestrated by the CLO.
Greg Pryor is vice president of leadership and organization effectiveness for Workday, an enterprise cloud applications company. Comment below or email editor@CLOmedia.com.
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