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Learning under lockdown (Part 2)

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<>Learning under lockdown (Part 2)

Authors: Dr Naeema Pasha, Director of Careers & Professional Development and Founder of World of Work, Henley Business School and Ines Rheinberger, Manager, EY.

Henley Business School and EY have come together to host a programme of work to examine how increasing skills in the UK economy can drive growth, for the economy, organisations, and individuals.

In the second part of this article, Dr Naeema Pasha of Henley Business School and Ines Rheinberger of EY explore how organisations can provide access to and engage their people in relevant learning experience to develop critical skills and build resilience for the future.

As organisations are preparing for the return to work, many are pondering the question ‘Should I use this time to build future facing capabilities?’ They then wonder, ‘is this the right time, how do I know what they should they learn, how would they learn it, how would I keep them engaged?’.

To better prepare for the future, organisations have an economic imperative to harness their learning potential and foster capability development. Doing so when lives are already disrupted, requires a holistic approach to learning, one centred around the adaptive needs of organisations and their people.

How can I provide access to the relevant learning to develop those critical skills?

With people shifting to remote working seemingly overnight, many Learning and Development opportunities have been put on hold. Yet, we should not press pause on building capability and with many learning programmes being accessible online, we can quickly adapt to more virtual and flexible learning practices.

Many organisations have an immediate need to move learning online; for others operating remotely is not an option. Either way, relevant learning must be prioritised, adapted and delivered flexibly. Fortunately, with a plethora of online resources and learning providers, organisations do not have to curate all content themselves.

This is also an opportunity to rethink their virtual learning to provide more engaging, collaborative and interactive experiences. Organisations should consider non-mainstream technology solutions and what to invest in their long-term proposition.

Remote working has erroneously been equated to additional time. Some people currently face increased workloads, others are juggling multiple responsibilities; this must be taken into account.

In practice:

  1. Assess priority content for virtual delivery reviewing the learning portfolio against identified short- and long-term requirements. Determine where to build content or where to outsource.
  2. Protect employees during in-person learning communicating additional precautions (e.g. social distancing) in advance.
  3. Enhance digital offerings considering how alternative learning technologies can bring virtual sessions to life, their limitations and the communication required.
  4. Make relevant content readily accessible guiding learners to the right skills and learning opportunities to support them in building future-facing capabilities flexibly.
  5. Factor in dedicated time to reinforce the priority given to skill development and to break down time constraints.
How can I engage my workforce in the learning opportunities provided?

Despite significant investment in Learning and Development, organisations often fail to reap the benefits. Remote working adoption is unlikely to change that dynamic, unless we better balance the technical and human components. Learning is as much about mindset as about skillset and it is pivotal to understand, at a human level, what motivates an individual’s learning journey.

Individuals already face disrupted lives and unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Importantly, many are already learning; adapting to new circumstances or embracing remote working. Organisations should consider if and when it would be productive to ask for more. Conversely, individuals have something to gain from new skills and career resilience.

Learning is where organisational and individual responsibilities meet. Organisations provide an enabling environment so that individuals can invest themselves. As Dr. Pasha’s research points out, talent practices must align to organisational needs but also to individuals’ increasingly dynamic career aspirations.

In practice:

  1. Provide coherent learning pathways linked to a common purpose and outcomes to help people understand what their learning investment will contribute to.
  2. Invest in building a life-long learning culture through recognition, reward and space to learn, in an environment where people model and celebrate learning as integral to performance and to their own career.
  3. Provide inclusive learning opportunities looking at the talent pool under a different light and casting the net wider when re-skilling or up-skilling.
  4. Lead through the crisis - Empathetic leadership role modelling desired behaviours, helping people make sense of the uncertainty and providing solidarity and support is more important than ever in carving out a shared path forward.

Over the past few months, as lives have been disrupted and socio-economic realities re-shaped, resilience has become the watchword for organisations and individuals alike. Those who continuously learn are more resilient in the face of the future. Now is the right time for organisation to invest in building sustainable capability. Doing so successfully, means tactical measures to adapt to more virtual and flexible learning experiences as well as a holistic approach to learning grounded in a wider Talent proposition.

Published 24th June 2020
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