A considerable part of corporate annual budgets goes into learning and development programs.
But over and again, this money goes into the same old training seminars and workshops. Nothing against them. But, there has hardly been any disruption in enterprise learning and development in a long long time.
Learning and development teams, while possessing plenty of resources still lack a lot of power, options, resources and more to provide the right training to their corporate workforce.
This results in the same system repeated over and over again. Changes that are transforming businesses and the world itself are not considered. Leadership training workshops don’t offer training on how to work with a remote team. A “mandatory” time management seminar hardly covers automation.
And so we end up with outdated L&D resources that we crib and cry about. Of course, we attend them anyway to tick a checkbox on our personnel files!
Isn’t this a colossal waste of money, resources, time and energy? Yes.
Can we fix this? Absolutely!
To fix something, we need to first identify the problem in the first place.
Recently, NewCampus forayed into providing customised enterprise learning solutions. And in this process, we connected with scores of learning and development teams. This helped us gather intel on how the L&D system works from the inside. We were delighted to find many enterprises already envisaging problems in the system and launching innovative L&D solutions. But many still face some pressing problems.
And here is what we found on the latter:
HR lacks autonomy
Learning and development departments fall under the large umbrella of Human Resources. Unfortunately, they don’t always decide the best learning program for the workforce. There are hierarchical issues for gaining approval. And they usually lean towards “time-tested” solutions rather than opt for relevant ones. And since the final signatory does not live within their ranks, the L&D officers lose their say. So, what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander and many good learning programs never see the light of day.
A pedagogy may have proved effective in the past. But it may be inadequate under the current landscape of change. So, L&D professionals should have autonomy in deciding relevant learning programs.
L&D programs not built to use case
Large-scale enterprises have branches across cities, countries and even span different continents. In this case, it makes no sense to push the same programs across the board. Sadly, it is usually the case. There seems to be no application of different learning methodologies to different markets. Decisions are not made on the ground level but at the headquarters, which could very well be in a galaxy far far away. The language of instruction, use of localized examples, cultural and traditional tropes, etc., are not considered while designing learning programs. Learners and their requirements at the regional level get ignored.
L&D officers should identify employee training and development needs. Then they need to customise training and workshops according to local needs. Or enterprises should build localized learning programs for each zone.
As discussed before, most corporates ape previously executed learning programs. The learning program at Corporate 1 and Corporate 2 may be similar even if they may have different needs. This results in an outdated curriculum, lack of relevance, lack of future-proofing and whatnot!
Learning in the digital age is very different from what it used to be. L&D officers should build programs that evolve with the times.In an uncertain world with an unpredictable future, adaptivity should be the focus.
Although enterprises have budgets to invest in learning, they still lack funds to invest in a good program. The team may want to put in place a resourceful, customised and decentralized learning program. But, this may get rejected as it would be more expensive.
Without an up-skilled and future-proofed workforce, a business may become irrelevant. Keeping employees armed with the right skills is the need of the hour. Corporates need to loosen their purse-strings and invest in learning and development. Even a small increase in the budget will go a long way in business returns.
Efficiency seems to be the top priority of most corporates. So, it is easy to opt for ready-made learning packages that quickly solve the problem. But, there is no research or data to back that this would fulfil the need to up-skill and upgrade the workforce. Short-sighted by their drive for stability, corporates take the road well-travelled. But, playing it safe will make them sorry!
In a rapidly changing world, everything is unstable. So, corporates need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. They need to keep reinventing themselves to stay relevant. What enterprises need is a vision in learning and development. They should train employees envisaging the future needs of the business. They need to identify gaps in their skills and match them up with the right kind of training. They should invest in invaluable future-relevant skills like mindfulness, creativity, leadership, teamwork, etc.
Inability to move fast
Learning programs sometimes encounter a snag even before getting implemented thanks to hierarchy. Despite the drive and vision, things don’t move and many a good workshop or training remains a dream.
Enterprises fail to give importance to learning and development. Instead, they place their attention on verticals contributing to business income. What they fail to realize is that business returns will multiply manifold with a skilled workforce. So, learning and development plans need priority and speedy execution.
Not open to experimenting with learning
Enterprises want one product to fill all their learning gaps. This lacks localization, context, relevance and progress. Learning plateaus. This will result in a workforce that finds inventive excuses to escape learning rather than take part in it. Companies end up not training employees for the future.
Businesses must shift to a culture of learning. Learning at the enterprise level needs to be more like a lab. Learning should take place in sprints and iterations that sustained over a long time. We need a varied curriculum that kindles curiosity and allows various growth pathways. The curriculum should stay current, revised and relevant.
Employees have no say in their learning and development
Despite suggestion boxes hitched on every corner, employees don’t decide what they learn. There is no system to test each employee’s skills or talent before prescribing a learning module. In a near “Big Brother decides what’s right for you”- situation, the higher-ups determine the learning modules. Employees simply need to show up and take notes. This leaves a gaping hole in learning. Each employee may need different skills and methodologies of teaching.
Regular skills tests should gauge employees. L&D teams should build learning modules based on the results. Decentralized learning will help employees take part in carving their learning paths. They should be able to assess their skills and level-up if needed. Developing your employees is the key to retention.
These are some of the problems plaguing enterprise learning and development teams. These force them to fall back on outdated learning systems.
At NewCampus, we help enterprises transform the way they incorporate learning and development. While this is one step in initiating this change, a revolution can only happen when initiated from the corporate end.
Many long-established companies like Mercer, and evolving tech companies like PayPal, are the first to adopt a visionary approach to learning. We need more such leaders willing to re-look their existing programs. They need an evolving curriculum to support their workforce. The more we rethink enterprise learning strategy, the more learning will transcend to startups and gig economy workers. This will truly lead to a growth mindset and a learning culture shift in our workforce.