Part two: The changing face of learning and development

Written by
Hazel Jackson

22 Dec 2015

22 Dec 2015 • by Hazel Jackson

Redefining learning and development is the number one human capital issue in the Middle East. In part one of my look at the function, we examined the importance of strategy and different learning categories. In part two, we’ll look at how learning can help better engage your employees. 

Engaging employees with learning

It comes as no surprise that we are struggling to engage employees when you look at some of the statistics about the overwhelming world in which we live and work:

  • Today’s employees are not restricted to one office, retail store or factory. They work from several locations – 37%of the global workforce have gone mobile and 30% work from somewhere other than the employer’s main location
  • The Middle East has the second largest smart phone population in the world
  • Over 70% of employees access search engines to help with their job, increasingly turning to solely their smartphones for just in time, on-demand answers
  • Learners are turning to personal and professional networks for answers. Research shows 80 percent of workplace learning happens between peers, teammates and managers
  • Rapid changes in business mean employees need to be constantly learning just to keep up, with 75% saying they are overwhelmed and stressed

Couple this with the many distractions, both good and bad, and we have competition for the minds and learning perspectives of our teams. In fact, we are competing for a very small attention span:  research shows that 1% of a typical work week is all employees have to focus on training and development – that equates to about five minutes a day.

We need to be making learning interventions bite-sized, stimulating thinking, exploring real life situations and then providing performance support tools back in the work place.  

How are progressive companies solving these challenges?

They are redefining and expanding the roles in L&D. Introducing product and marketing roles, tasking employees to think like product managers, rapidly evolving learning and introducing innovative ways to communicate and engage learners.  Having more business consultants and business category experts, so they can get closer to the organisation, understand specific needs and requirements that tangibly impact KPIs and results.

They are expecting L&D divisions to shift mindset from a siloed mentality to a networked one, from complacent to curious, piecemeal to holistic, rigid to agile, and conventional to innovative. 

They are closer to the Modern Learner, humbly realising that they might not have all the answers, asking employees and line managers questions like: What do you need to support your success at the moment?  What do you need to know to support your growth in the current role?  What do you need to advance your career?  It isn’t a one size fits all approach, but personalised to meet the individual needs of each learner.

They are in continous conversations with the business, understanding their stress points and challenging KPIs, bottle necks and concerns. Starting with the business impact helps them remain strategic and look for multiple category solutions rather than a quick fix, short-term training course.

Finally, they are measuring results, both in terms of knowledge lift and knowledge retention, as well as business impact, like a reduction in safety incidents, an increase in sales results, or an improvement in customer satisfaction – thus making L&Ds contribution strategic, tangible and measured.


One fast evolving solution is using adaptive learning platforms

Many progressive companies are using adaptive learning platforms, like Axonify, that are designed with the Modern Learner in mind. A neuroscience-backed gamified learning platform, Axonify allows employees to never stop learning. After initial upfront training that provides the foundational  pieces of learning, a continous learning cycle kicks in, with three minutes of highly targetted and personalised information, delivered in a fun and rewarding way.  This allows for maximum potential to remember and retain, and for learning to actually transfer.  Since the system identifies gaps in learning, it also enables L&D professionals to explore individuals’ knowledge bases.. 

Using bite-sized, daily adaptive learning, 1100 medical representatives from Ethicon (part of Johnson & Johnson), for example, increased their confidence in technical product knowedge by 50 percent in just 90 days, directly impacting topline revenue results. Another example, a large childrens toy retailer had a 62 percent reduction in safety incidents, significantly reducing the business’s expenses.  

The conclusion

L&D needs to become learner centric, employee centric and at the heart of solving business problems.  We need to boost employee knowledge and skills, transforming people into top performers whilst working within the constraints of the business and today’s overwhelming environment. In our hectic, diverse, and fast-paced world in the UAE, now is definitely the time for you to change your role in Learning & Development, shifting gears and challenging your thinking.

The future, looking five years ahead, is learning everywhere all the time. How ready are you?