ν Lawrence Kamwi
If change is constant, it makes sense to view the management of change as similarly constant. Empowering employees with specific skills to attain better business performance through learning and development is, therefore, one area that constantly calls for attention.
It is estimated that “employees pick up 70% of skills on the job, 20% through peers and colleagues and 10% through formal training sessions.”
The coronavirus pandemic has shaken professional development, onboarding programmes, skills gap training, reskilling and upskilling. The pressure of adjustment brought to bear on companies and organisations shows that both capacity and capability building cannot be paused or minimised.
If anything, learning and development activities have come under renewed pressure to prove their worth. Today’s workplaces have to answer calls for rapid reskilling to allow employees to work more remotely and more safely, while also preparing enterprises for future disruptions. This is the mindset that has sprung to the fore as the world cautiously works towards post-Covid-19 workplaces.
There are calls for training to provide personalised content that answers a particular employee’s needs, learning style and delivery method. Learning and development also have the added challenge of providing solutions that fit into, instead of detracting from, the daily routines of employees.
Accordingly, this has led to calls for training to be broken down into bite-sized and easily-chewable learning opportunities that are tailor-made to answer an employee’s immediate challenges and opportunities. Such calls would have clearly won the support of German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, who wrote that “if new information isn’t applied, we’ll forget about 75% of it just after six days.”
The purpose, timing and content of training must also carry immediate relevance to the worker who is undergoing training. Thus, the speed and flexibility of training programmes go a long way towards determining the continued success of an enterprise in the post-Covid-19 milieu.
It is worth noting that companies cannot shy away from committed investments in employee career development. If not for any other reason, experiences show that training and development improve employee retention.
A Work Institute report has estimated that 22 out of 100 people leave jobs where employers are not clear about how to develop them. In addition to improving productivity, learning and development also help in boosting employees’ confidence and building trusting relationships with employers.
It is refreshing to note that the technologically advanced world brings exceptional possibilities for anytime-anywhere-everywhere training. Not surprisingly, traditional in-person seminars and all-day training sessions have, in some cases, lost ground to quicker content that is served as and when the worker needs it.
Today’s workforces are likely to be multi-generational. They seek engagement, collaboration, and recognition. The traditional top-down approaches to management and learning have shown to be incapable of meeting the needs of the ambitious and forward-looking employee.
Psychologist Eduardo Salas reminds companies that, “training and development activities allow organisations to adapt, compete, excel, innovate, produce, be safe, improve services, and reach goals.”
This week, results of a LinkedIn survey of 3 500 small, medium and large Asia-Pacific enterprises showed that “39% of companies in Singapore look for those with technical skills, and 31% look for transferable skills. This exhibits a preference over hiring based on traditional qualifications such as education (8%) or work experience (12%).”
The survey concluded that employers prefer to hire people “with communication skills, problem-solving skills, and strategic thinking over those with traditional attributes.” This kind of knowledge will help enterprises to attract and retain talent, motivate employees, develop capabilities, and strengthen employer brands.