Increased complexity, competition and change. Rapid technology evolution, disruption and speed. Emerging markets and global growth. These are the big business challenges facing global organizations today. At the same time, learning and talent organizations are facing our own set of significant challenges.
• The future of work and developing people for jobs that don’t even exist yet.
• Creating a learning and talent ecosystem that maximizes growth and employee engagement.
• “Reskilling” talent to drive business success.
Where do we begin?
These challenges provide us with not just an opportunity, but a big responsibility for all talent leaders today. For businesses to thrive in this changing organizational landscape, we must address these opportunities and take action. We are in a time of change and reinvention, individuals need to change in order for organizations to change. Ninety three percent of CEOs are in the process of changing their talent strategy, according to PwC’s 2017 “Annual Global CEO Survey. This is driving CLOs and talent leaders to evolve their work, products, services and mindsets to create talent plans that reflect the changes in today’s workforce. These plans go be-yond learning and development and truly encompass the entire learning and talent ecosystem — from attraction to development to retention. We need to strategically influence the entire employee life cycle.
The workforce today is increasingly mobile and that has significant implications for how work gets done and how we operate our learning and talent organizations. Forty three percent of U.S. employees currently spend time working from home and that number continues to rise, according to a 2017 New York Times article, “Remote Workers Work from Home.” Delivering learning, connecting employees and building a learning culture is more complex than ever before. This distributed workforce and shift in the way employees literally show up for work makes online, mobile and virtual learning both a reality and the norm. Embracing mobility and this mobile workforce is the only way to engage learners and ensure career growth for all. New technologies, social learning and leveraging user generated content are essential. Think social, mobile and global.
Forty-three percent of people in the U.S. are now independent workers and over the next five years that will increase to be almost half of the U.S. workforce, according to MBO Partners’ 2017 “State of Independence in America” report. Ninety-seven percent of them have no desire to return to traditional work and by 2030 only 9 percent of the workforce will be full-time employees, according to PwC’s “Workforce of the Future” report. This “gig” work is transforming the way we think about the workforce and the strategy we must use to develop and engage not only our employees but also the consultants, part time workers, temporary workers and gig workers who we interact with regularly. These workers are part of our talent ecosystem. They have important roles with our customers, our employees and our work infrastructure. Employment laws have not yet caught up to the realities that we are encountering with this new workforce. Companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb have an abundance of gig workers, both “drivers” and “hosts” aren’t employees of these companies. Due to current employment laws, they cannot provide development to these workers, but these workers have a direct influence on their company brand, their customers and their business. How can we “train” and develop work-ers who are not our employees? How can we manage co-employment constraints and alternative work models? As learning and talent executives we need to lead these important discussions and drive major workforce policy changes. That is part of our agenda.
Seventy-four percent of employees believe it’s their own responsibility to update their skills rather than their employers, according to PwC’s workforce report. We don’t “own” learning or employee development. The employer-employee relationship has changed and so must our learning and talent organizations. We are facilitators of knowledge and information sharing across the organization but we cannot even begin to manage the massive amount of information or content that our employees seek or receive. There’s too much input to manage today. The No. 1 place an employee goes to get information or “training” is not our LMS or learning catalog — it’s an internet search engine. The second place they go to get information is from another co-worker or friend. When was the last time you referred to the user manual you received in the box with your mobile phone? How did you learn to use that device? How do you find out about new mobile apps? Do you attend “training” or sign up for a class to learn how to install that app? An 8-year-old recently drove his 4-year-old sister to a fast food restaurant to get a hamburger. When he was stopped by the police they asked him where he learned to drive. His answer was YouTube. Think about the ways we learn today. Has your learning and talent agenda adapted?
On Facebook, user generated content has seven times higher engagement than brand generated content, according to Mary Meeker 2017 “Internet Trends” report. That means, if you want to encourage someone to use your product, having one of your customers post a picture or video about them actually using the product has more influence over future customers’ buying that product than if you post an advertisement about your product directly to potential customers. Think about how that impacts our learning in-vestment and agenda. Recommendations and communication about development opportunities from employees to other employees is a much more powerful marketing tool than any information coming directly from our learning or HR organizations. Find ways to encourage employees to share endorsements, reviews and communication about your programs, development opportunities, learning resources and you will get higher engagement and more customers. Have your employees make short video messages about the benefits of a learning program they attended, inspire your employees to share examples with others about how they used your learning resources. Use your employees as your marketing team and leverage them as learning ambassadors. If you want employees to engage in your learning opportunities, have the users do the talking.
While there may be some fear about robots in the workplace and them taking over our jobs, it is important to remember that we already work alongside robots every day. Robots provide opportunities for us to integrate new technologies into our work and in the workplace. Think about the dishwasher. Many of us have one and we use it to help us with a task that most of us don’t love — washing dishes. Before dishwashers were introduced people washed their dishes by hand. This dishwashing robot enables us to use our time differently and today we interact with it seamlessly. Having that robot didn’t displace everyone in a kitchen or a restaurant. It just changed their job. There are many machines that we work with daily that allow us to perform higher level tasks — the computer, mo-bile devices and calculators. We need to embrace robots and find ways to enable them to enhance our work and allow us to do more strategic work that requires higher level thinking and communication. Nearly one third of today’s work can be displaced by technology, but social and emotional skills, as well as creativity and advanced cognitive capabilities are increasingly important for organizational success, according to McKinsey & Co.’s 2017 “Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained” report. That’s where humans add tremendous value, not by washing the dishes.
Artificial intelligence and data analytics are growing in both popularity and use within HR, learning and talent organizations. How-ever, more data doesn’t necessarily mean more insights. Unfortunately, many people are not using the data they collect correctly and are not analyzing data to its full potential. The data you collect should tell the story, analyzing the data is just as important as collecting it. If used effectively, data should drive our decision making and influence our learning and talent priorities. As CLOs and talent leaders we need to focus on growing our own, and our employees’ “Insight IQ.”
The future of work, shifts in technology and new ways of working are leading the way for a critical learning and talent transformation. The organization of the future is the most important global human capital trend today and 63 percent of companies already have a future of work program in place, according to Catalant’s “Reimagining Work 2020” report.
This transformation is driving five key priorities in our learning agenda:
1. From addressing business needs to enabling enterprise performance solutions.
2 From providing service to the organization to being strategic influencers on the business.
3. From training employees new skills to building sustained learning habits.
4. From providers of learning to being “architects of continuous development.”
5. From being a service provider to being a business and talent adviser.
Think about where you spend your time. Are you running the organization and operating the business or advancing the strategy and growing the business? This new world of work requires CLOs and talent leaders to focus on advancing and growing the business. It’s a shift in thinking as well as doing. Employees and executives have new expectations and we are in a pivotal position to demonstrate leadership. It can be overwhelming when there’s already so much for us to do and so little time. Prioritize, assess what is urgent and what has the most impact, and ask yourself these two questions: What level of impact will the initiative have on the business? How urgent is the initiative to the achievement of a key business objective? Use this model as a guide to make decisions that can enable you to advance and grow.
Preparing for all of these changes requires a whole new level of thinking and an evolution in our ways of working. Fortunately, if we navigate this transformation successfully it will enable us to turn our workplaces into learning places.