Lifelong learning can foster talent that is engaged, constantly innovating, thinking dynamically, and formulating new strategies to better your business. The pandemic has further reaffirmed the significance of lifelong learning, both as a means to ensure talent retention as well as a hedge against economic uncertainties.
The corporate world is continuously evolving, with the growth of businesses outpacing the creation of employment opportunities. The dynamic economic scenario coupled with Industry 4.0 implies that some job roles may become redundant in the next few years, giving way to new ones, necessitating the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce. The pandemic has further reaffirmed the significance of corporate learning, both as a means to ensure talent retention as well as a hedge against economic uncertainties.
Learning & Development has become a priority for people-centric companies willing to go the extra mile for their employees. A LinkedIn survey highlights that employee development is among the leading factors to ensure a happy workplace. Lifelong learning can be seen as a step ahead of the corporate L&D efforts, which confers a plethora of benefits to organisations in terms of employee satisfaction and retention, team building, boosting business outcomes, and becoming a sought-after employer.
Lifelong learning can be seen as a step ahead of the corporate L&D efforts, which confers a plethora of benefits to organisations in terms of employee satisfaction and retention, team building, boosting business outcomes, and becoming a sought-after employer.
Technology is a key enabler to fulfil this objective. Today, there is no dearth of corporate skilling programs, online courses, corporate mentorship programs, and Learning Management Systems to aid this goal. However, at the outset, it is vital for employees to be motivated and believe that there are ample opportunities available for their learning and they have immense potential for growth. Organisations must strive to foster a growth-oriented mindset by encouraging risk-taking and instituting a reward system for best-performing employees. Employers face a formidable hurdle of fixed mindset or bad experience of some employees who might be resistant to learning efforts leading to problems of low morale and productivity. At the other end of the spectrum, top performers might not be convinced about the efficacy of such solutions as they are adept in their job roles.
Nevertheless, the onus is on the top management, HR personnel, and business mentors to take proactive steps to foster a culture of lifelong learning. At the outset, it warrants the mapping of existing employees’ skillset. Over the years, the importance of soft skills has increased dramatically. Does your workforce possess these skills? Which vital skills are missing in your workforce? How will the upskilled workforce aid my business goals? These are some of the questions organisations must ponder upon.
The managers must lead by example of fostering lifelong learning. Mentoring plays an important role, especially for novices who often look up to their managers as their role models. The importance of one-to-one personalised mentoring through honest and timely feedback, questioning, role modelling, and targeted advice is often overlooked.
While implementing any learning solution, it is to remember that every individual has a different learning pace. While lifelong learning may be a priority for some, others may be out of learning sync for long. Similarly, some people may not be academic-oriented but may possess excellent people skills. Regardless of these differences, a learning solution must be uniquely tailored to every individual’s personality and learning needs.
Any learning and development effort should strive to maximise workplace engagement. Self-directed online learning efforts are known to have a high dropout rate due to a lack of motivation and clear understanding. Emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Gamification can play an instrumental role in making learning an immersive and enjoyable experience. We live in an era of information overload, making it difficult to sift the useful information leaving out the rest. The instructional material should focus on content curation instead of content development to filter out the most relevant information to improve business outcomes.
No matter how interesting it may be, lifelong learning demands considerable bandwidth from employees juggling between work and personal life. Balancing multiple projects, family, social, and personal commitments may be cumbersome for employees. Hence, learning in the flow of work is a viable option to address this gap. It implies that learning should align itself to working hours, and learning solutions must be available at a ‘right time’ and ‘at the right place.’ It is here the concept of ‘microlearning’ assumes paramount importance. It implies learning of small lessons at the workplace and their immediate application through case studies and questionnaires by employees. To address this time constraint, organisations must ensure that employees take complete ownership of their learning goals and are able to make prudent decisions regarding time allocation for work and learning.
Balancing multiple projects, family, social, and personal commitments may be cumbersome for employees. Hence, learning in the flow of work is a viable option to address this gap. It implies that learning should align itself to working hours, and learning solutions must be available at a ‘right time’ and ‘at the right place.
Maintaining consistency in the learning process is another key to a successful outcome. Corporate learning should not be perceived as a destination rather an ongoing process and an avenue for higher career growth. It calls for the need for suitable designing of training curriculum with due participation from employees with an engaging delivery model.
Any learning efforts should be intricately interwoven with the organisational culture. Companies may have employees belonging to two generations – young and old. While the older generation may prefer classroom settings beyond work hours, the younger generation may be open to newer ideas such as weekend retreats and seminars. There is also a considerable difference in the tools and technologies they prefer- while newer technologies such as video and animation may find favour with the young generation, older persons will be more inclined towards the ‘blackboard’ model.
Lifelong learning is foreseen to become a priority for corporate in the post-COVID era as firms strive to stay agile and navigate complex situations. As a matter of fact, lifelong learning will be among the key differentiators for not only attracting and retaining talent; it will also enable firms to stand out from the competition through better business outcomes and employee satisfaction.