Mar 06, 2022 11 min read
Learning in the Flow of Work – Lets step up the Game
“The future of work will be a race between education and technology.” Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina, host of the G20 2018
The world of work has witnessed massive changes, some inevitable while others unprecedented. Nevertheless, ‘change’ has to be embraced to escape obsolescence. The sustainability of the individual and the organisation will be determined by the extent of acceptance of the changes and their ability to formulate strategies for transformation. Yet another factor that determines the ability to accept change and transcend the valley of tears associated with the change process is the level of maturity of both the Organisation and the Individual.
Accordingly, evolution of the ‘Learning Function’ from an event based occurrence to its integration in the ‘flow of work’, is an imperative that the ‘neotenic species’ of learners is demanding, leading the way to the new normal. So it is today, more than ever that organisations have to evolve a sustainable learning strategy, customized for their learners, befitting the organisation’s culture and suitable for the environment in which it operates.
ILO’s report on Shaping skills and lifelong learning for the future of work presented at the International Labour Conference’s 109th Session, 2021, states that Business Leaders, have a crucial role to:
Be in readiness for the new changes
Prepare the workforce to adapt to these changes, in newer-better ways
Anticipate the future skills needed
Create an enabling environment for people to learn and apply new skills
Promote lifelong learning, at least throughout the employees’ careers
The need for lifelong learning, the adaptability to change and preparedness for creating avenues to deliver future skills have been underlined.
Further, Accenture’s Report –“IT’S LEARNING. JUST NOT AS WE KNOW IT” published in 2018, states that leaders who are desirous of driving growth in this VUCA world need to place people as a top most priority and make substantial investments in their growth. With this background integrating learning in the flow of work becomes more and more relevant.
As per an article published by Mr Harvey Singh on the learning platform of Instancy.com, learning in the flow of work has been defined as an amalgamation of quick and easy access to a short piece of learning content or answers to questions while on the job. It is all about integrating traditional forms of learning (learning online) with this concept of learning in the flow of work. Lifelong learning has become an accepted economic imperative.
Thus, to encourage and enable lifelong learning, it makes better sense to integrate learning in the flow of work thereby engaging the worker as a learner for his/her entire work life.
“A recent LinkedIn study surveyed over 4,000 L&D professional and asked them how their training programs could be improved. The top issue: employees don’t have enough time. We see this issue often in learning and development, and it can be a significant cause of stress and animosity toward learning programs.”
This is yet another reason to see learning as a ‘part of work’ rather than a ‘break from work’. It is the responsibility of L & D professionals to create systems, processes, mechanisms and opportunities wherein the employees learn as they work and work as they learn. Now is the time for “learner centricity’, putting the needs, aspirations, challenges and roles of the learner above all else.
How Do we Bring Learning in the Flow of work?
L&D professionals can make it happen by blurring the boundaries between work and learning thereby creating ‘seamless and nearly invisible’ learning programs which impact effectiveness and productivity in many positive ways.
According to Bennett Winga, a content writer with Dashe & Thomson, a learning solution provider, while ensuring that learning is brought in the flow of work, L & D professionals have to focus on the following key terms: Accessible, on-demand, and curated.
Accessible: This has been as part of the conversation for long, however, what it means is, is building mechanisms and processes that are simple, which cut across the boundaries of time and space and are free from bureaucratic hierarchies, thereby ensuring learning opportunities are within reach. In this perspective microlearning and mobile learning interventions have been found to be most effective. Both these forms of learning respect the learner’s attention span and ensure availability and ease.
On-demand: Just like most things that have been added to our list of entitlements, learning availability is one of them too. It is available when ‘I’, the ‘learner’ needs it. This ensures that my learnability is maintained as I do not have to wait too long for the ‘best ‘opportunity available to me to learn. Here the timeliness is more important and relevant to the context. It creates a sense of confidence in my abilities and also gives me the ‘safety net’ that even if I do not have the necessary skill or knowledge at this time, I can have it when it is needed.
Curated: Gone are the days for ‘vanilla’ – ‘one size, fits all’ programmes because such learning interventions take us away from the learner-centric approach. Also, if the programmes are ‘off-the-shelf’ conscious decisions on the kind of skills/knowledge that will be catered to by these programmes will have to be made. Putting the learner first leaves little room for ‘run-of-the-mill’ programmes and effectiveness of learning integration into work can only be ensured once it is aligned with the Organisations’ Vision, Mission, Growth Plans, Culture and Work Processes.
The above are a few pointers through which learning in the flow of work can be achieved and Technology will have a huge role to play here, yet overuse of technology or instructor-led modes of training delivery will be detrimental to the overall plan of accelerating training in the new world of work. Thus work-learning balance and differentiated interventions will be most impactful to address the varying and diverse learner needs.
The L&D professionals will therefore, not only be responsible for creating engaging training interventions but also foster a culture and put in place an eco-system that nurtures - a key driver for Employee Engagement.
“We still talk about a knowledge economy, but the reality is that the world is moving beyond it. What we have now is an innovation economy. Knowledge has been commoditized. There is no longer a competitive advantage in simply knowing more than other people, because Google knows everything. What the world cares about is not how much you know, but what you can do with it.”
-----Tony Wagner, Senior Research Fellow, Learning Policy Institute.
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