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From challenges posed by the pandemic to advice on measuring ROI and best practices, senior HR leaders offer solutions to redesign learning for maximum impact.

There has never been a more important time for L&D to be adaptable and agile. In nearly every role and every industry, we need to rethink how employees learn. Therefore, we at Human Resources Online (HRO) seized the opportunity to partner with Coursera and seek out HR and learning leaders in Hong Kong for a conversation about ways to redesign learning for maximum impact.

Aditi Sharma Kalra from HRO had the opportunity to moderate this panel discussion on “Developing a Business Case for Learning”. Speakers included:

  • Eklavya Bhave, Senior Regional Director, Asia, Coursera
  • Handi Kurniawan, Head of Jardine Learning Academy, Jardine Matheson
  • Pelle Ho, Director, Talent Development and Engagement, FWD Insurance
  • Winnie Tsien, Human Resources Manager, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Jones Lang La Salle

In this article, we explore the key insights from the discussion most relevant to L&D decision makers. Read on for conversation excerpts.

#1: A roller coaster ride: highs and lows for learning and development coming out of the pandemic

The increase in learning participation during the pandemic implied that employees were eager to develop and grow in their roles. Similarly, employers recognized the need to retain essential skills and talent, and did so by relying on managers to engage and develop their teams in areas where there was a clear skills gap. While keeping content relevant and current remains the number one priority for L&D, panelists agreed that the overall learning strategy must ultimately consider the different stages of the organization’s learning journey. , roles and learning needs of employees.

One way to meet the diversity of learning needs is to democratize learning by making programs accessible and affordable. Companies are also moving away from quantifying the impact of learning in terms of hours of training and instead focusing on how the new skills learned benefit the company.

#2: Big wins: what works well in learning and development?

Here are some examples of successful L&D strategies shared by panelists:

1. Invest in easy access to high-quality digital learning content organize and share learning as a community. This ensures that training and development is aligned with business priorities while meeting the diversity of learner needs. Initiatives can be taken to ensure the activation and engagement of learners in the digital space. An example is giving grants or incentives to learners who share what they have learned with their teams, which further contributes to a positive learning culture within the organization. A big advantage of digital or blended learning is that the overall cost of delivering training and development programs can be significantly reduced while reaching a wider audience.

2. Focus on sustainability by accelerating internal skills and capacity building. While in the past the focus was on “buying” talent, there is now a trend to leverage current talent pools to fill hard-to-hire positions and fill gaps in skill sets. difficult to develop. Programs to build internal capacity include rotations, expanded assignments, expanding the scope of work, and expanding the span of control to accelerate employee readiness to step up. There is also significant growth in the use of automation and robotic process automation (RPA) to support business functions.

3. Learning experience and relevance of learning content. It’s important to help employees see the content’s relevance to their current roles. To deliver digital content more effectively, strategies can be deployed in the design of learning content, such as role-playing simulations (RPGs) to get learners to take on certain roles and practice required skills, as well as online whiteboard sessions.

#3: Weaknesses: ongoing challenges in an increasingly hybrid workforce

The first challenge highlighted was getting people to take ownership of identifying their own learning needs and seeking the best training options. In a hybrid work environment, there is a greater demand for flexibility in how employees choose to learn as well as what content they want to learn. So, motivating employees to seek out learning opportunities is what companies want to focus on. Another challenge is for the organization to remain resilient and persistent in learning and development, as learning outcomes and impact may not be immediately measurable. Companies need to give employees time to digest what learning means to them and apply the skills in their day-to-day work. As such, the difficulty of measuring training and development ROI remains a challenge, especially with e-learning and digital content becoming more mainstream. One way to approach this is to look at activation and engagement rates – but ultimately it comes down to instilling a positive learning culture.

Finally, with the lifespan of skills and knowledge becoming increasingly shorter, employees need to see the relevance and value of upskilling not only in carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities, but also in taking on additional responsibilities or new roles. It will be important to showcase examples of people within the organization who have upskilled or re-skilled and, as a result, experienced career growth.

#4: Strategic levers: Development of a business case for learning

In a one-time survey, event attendees said the biggest learning challenge they faced was the ever-changing skills requirement (32%), followed by stakeholder buy-in ( 28%), followed by content relevance (16%). Cost and investment, and having in-house expertise ranked lowest in terms of concern. Yet making a business case for a learning revolution seems harder than ever.

According Eklavya Bhave, Senior Regional Director, Asia, CourseraCLOs should focus on five aspects, the underlying factor being the ability to link learning outcomes to business objectives:

1. Understand the business: CLOs should be clear about the company’s product lines, areas of growth, areas of greater competition, and external factors affecting the business such as regulatory, technological and buying behavior changes .

2. Stakeholder management: Understanding the challenges faced by different stakeholders will provide greater insight into business priorities and how skills and learning can address their challenges. Building this relationship with stakeholders is important because they need to see the learning program as a partnership rather than something imposed on them.

3. Invest time and effort in areas of maximum impact: Tap into areas that align with business strategy, such as digital transformation.

4. While investing in improving digital skills, don’t neglect real-life skills: At the heart of every business are its employees. Over the past two or three years, the interaction with partners, clients, colleagues and customers has changed dramatically due to hybrid working. We see a lot of stress resulting from change management. Preparing employees for such changes will protect their mental well-being, an issue that has been sorely overlooked in the past.

5. Think about the business impact that can be created by improving skills: Consider the impact of upskilling holistically – whether it increases employee lifecycle, whether it increases retention, and whether it develops skills that will allow employees to become more adaptable.

#5: Measure the return on investment of L&D beyond the number of hours of training

Our panelists believe that partnerships are important before any milestone audits. Before starting any talent development program, there should be conversations with business leaders to understand the company’s roadmap and how to move it forward from a learning and talent perspective. While not all programs can be measured quantitatively, there are data points that organizations can review after running the development program. For example, if employees have taken refresher courses in digital literacy, we can look at technology adoption rates, solution turnaround time, and team confidence in implementing new technologies and solutions in their daily work. Employee engagement to get feelings about learning can also be indicative of the added value of the program.

Another key indicator is the employee retention rate. Most employees will want to work in an organization that invests in them. They are also more likely to stay where there is greater internal mobility provided due to improved skills. By retaining this talent, employers can reduce their reliance on time-consuming and costly external hires.

Conclusion

With a stellar set of panelists ready, we took the additional opportunity to poll them on the hardest-to-develop, yet most-needed skill. In an increasingly competitive business environment where companies are scrambling to upgrade their technology skills, the most in-demand skill, according to our panelists, is surprisingly empathy. Empathy, they all agreed. goes a long way in creating a better workforce, from interacting with colleagues to better understanding customers to deliver better products, services and solutions.

HRO and Coursera would like to thank everyone involved for their support and insights shared in this conversation. We are confident that their experiences will benefit the HR and learning landscape in Hong Kong.


Image / Coursera Webinar

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