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Learning is priceless. It is a privilege and a must-have in the workplace, not to mention a pre-requisite for long term earnings. The demands of the modern day workforce have moved beyond financial compensation and long-term job security. Company culture is once again the buzzword on the mind of every prospective or current employee.
Creating an attractive culture comes down to engaging your workforce. And while it’s well established that employees feel engaged when promoted and presented with development opportunities, they place equal value on having opportunities to learn and expand their skillset.
Despite this shift in employee attitudes, there remains a distinct lack of fulfilment among employees when it comes to their learning and training, particularly non-managers . Our latest research found just 25 percent of non-management employees say their learning and training is linked to their development plan, compared with over 60 percent of senior managers and directors.
There remains a distinct lack of fulfilment among employees when it comes to their learning and training, particularly non-managers.
Training cannot be a tick-box exercise. Grouping all your employees into a room for a marathon learning session, even if done with the best intentions, is not necessarily the best way to make a lasting impression. Instead, learning should be a continuous process built on collaboration and instant-access to relevant information .
The common impression of traditional learning and training courses is that they are obligatory, blanket sessions that employees need to be arm-twisted into attending, as if being forced to attend their least favourite lesson at school.
Learning should be a continuous process built on collaboration and instant-access to relevant information.
But work is not school. Once people have an interesting job, learning is not something they are forced to do. It is something they want to do. That said, learning opportunities are greatly appreciated as long as they are relevant and tailored to the way people work.
We are an on-demand generation. This is why YouTube has become the ultimate learning tool, providing an instant bank of endless instructional content. I recently bought a new suitcase with a locking mechanism I’d never used. After it became apparent that all the bashing and cursing in the world wasn’t going to open it, a quick YouTube search revealed dozens of relevant videos that helped me crack the lock in minutes and be on my way, suitcase in tow.
Lessons tend to sink in when we have applied them to specific problems in the heat of the moment, not when we’ve just taken some notes in a classroom-like setting. This holds true both in our personal and professional lives, and HR needs to take the lead in adapting training opportunities to this reality. There has been some progress in this regard, but for now, just 39% of non-managers say their organization uses online and collaborative learning tools to promote their development.
Social media collaboration and instant video are contributing to improved learning and development, but we are just beginning to take advantage of new digital technologies . While they might seem far removed from training and HR, tools like virtual reality (VR) also have great promise for learning and improving performance.
I was convinced of this by my first encounter with VR at a recent industry event. I was amazed by how immersive and real the whole experience felt, and was intrigued to find out that VR is currently being used to help people overcome their fear of heights. Users are exposed to gradually increasing altitudes while in the safety of their headset, allowing them to acclimatise their senses to the feeling of being very high up and helping them to tackle their fears safely.
Social media collaboration and instant video are contributing to improved learning and development, but we are just beginning to take advantage of new digital technologies.
Consider the possibilities for young workers keen to become more comfortable speaking with clients or pitching for new business. Public speaking can be a crippling fear for many people, but it is also a critical skill for success in more senior roles. Who knows how much more quickly employees would become comfortable speaking in front of a crowd if they could practice in an environment that feels almost as daunting and imposing as the real deal? Certainly more quickly than they do reciting lines to themselves in front of the mirror.
The possibilities extend to other soft skills, like speaking a second language. Most people agree the best way to learn a new tongue is to get immersed in the culture and speak with locals, but this is rarely feasible. However, with a VR headset employees could regularly boot up a language training program and converse with (virtual) native speakers without ever leaving their desks/home/sofa. Imagine that instead of learning Portuguese in a dry classroom you could sit down with your virtual friend Joao in my beloved Café “O Brasileiro” in Lisbon.
Whether they use the latest technologies or more traditional methods, businesses must recognize that learning and training have never been more important to engaging employees. What’s crucial is that learning opportunities are relevant and accessible – there’s no point in only giving senior employees access to collaboration platforms and on-demand training modules if these stand to benefit all staff and make them better at their jobs. What new technologies like cloud-based tools and virtual reality do is make this democratic approach to learning easier than ever to implement.
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