Enterprise Learning And Development As The New Engine For Business Success
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Enterprise Learning And Development: Moving Towards Business Success Today

The necessity for continuous learning is finally being faced by companies and workers. After all, nearly half of jobs are at risk of computerization, according to research from Oxford University [1].

Continual technological advancement means employees must continually learn new skills. Otherwise, their ability to benefit companies will fade with time. This is precisely why an article in The Economist calls lifelong learning an economic imperative [2]. It's also precisely why Learning and Development (L&D) is becoming an economic imperative for companies.

It's vital to note how fast this is all happening. The 4th Industrial Revolution is developing at an exponential pace in comparison to previous ones. If employees aren't actively learning, they will feel lost within just a few years as new technologies enter the scene.

Effective L&D Programs Enable Companies To Navigate The 4th Industrial Revolution

As Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, notes, a shift is occurring from simple digitization, which represents the 3rd Industrial Revolution, to innovation based on a combination of technologies. As Schwab states, the 4th Industrial Revolution is "characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres". [3]

What does this mean for businesses?

Like Schwab points out, during the 4th Industrial Revolution, "Business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate".

So, how do you relentlessly and continuously innovate?

The answer is through comprehensive, forward-thinking Learning and Development initiatives that can be customized according to the individual, departmental, and market needs. Research has already proven the effectiveness of L&D initiatives.

For example, a Harvard Business Review study shows that 70% of companies that align L&D with their business priorities have more success in boosting company revenues [4]. Indeed, L&D can serve as a growth engine in the fast-changing technology landscape of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Great L&D Programs Attract—And Retain—New Talents

It can't be ignored that Millennials have quickly become the largest generation in the workforce, with more than 1 in every 3 American workers being Millennials [5]. By 2025, some reports predict they’ll account for 3/4 of the global workforce [6].

This matters because Millennials have specific career motivations. Companies must cater to this need if they are to remain competitive in the marketplace and workplace. As a Deloitte report notes, Millennials are after companies that "foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society" [7].

For Millennials, the question is not, "How long should I stay at a job?".

The question is, "How can this job build my career path?".

As Josh Bersin, the founder of Bersin by Deloitte says, "Our candidates today are not looking for a career. They’re looking for an experience" [8].

According to data from Bersin, "training and development" is the most coveted job benefit, ahead of "flexible working hours", "cash bonuses", "retirement funding", and "greater vacation allowance".

This is why Millennials aim to learn as much as they can on the job. Crafting an L&D program that works for them is vital for businesses to retain the best talents. But Millennials don't just want generic training. They want something they can customize to their own needs and goals.

This means companies must allow Millennials to take control of their own knowledge, rather than learn what is chosen for them (i.e., the traditional way). This requires changing how companies think of and implement L&D.

Reassessing How We Think Of L&D

Is it possible to give certain employees the freedom to choose what they want to learn (to ensure retention), thereby providing the best learning tools to rising stars, while not hurting your overall budget?

The answer is yes. But the approach has to change to overcome current challenges and issues.

As noted in an eConsultancy article, "Budget limitations demand that L&D teams prioritize program reach. It’s difficult to fully support both the retention of high performers as well as the identification, assessment, and development of rising stars" [9].

Additionally, according to a report by Brandon Hall Group, over 50% of organizations running L&D programs don’t believe they are effective [10]. Another report shows that while 43% of companies wanted to increase their L&D budget for 2016, only 26% of companies wanted to increase theirs for 2017 [11].  This brings to light a common concern across companies: measuring ROI and justifying the cost of the process.

But this thought process is wrong. Instead of considering L&D to be a cost center, it should be used as a way to achieve sustained growth.

In the age of digital disruption, where the main goal of the CEO is achieving a "smarter workforce" to innovate and stay ahead, the best way to think of your L&D department is as a growth engine. This is achievable by aligning the function more clearly with business objectives and making Learnability a key metric across a company. [12]

Enter EdCast

Some studies predict 40% of companies in the S&P 500 won't exist in a decade [13]. That's scary, but it is largely because many businesses aren't keeping up with changes in technology and consumer demands.

Moving Learning and Development from a back-office role to a front-and-center one is what's needed. For L&D to succeed in today's workforce, it must be user-centric and give employees a great deal of control.

Thankfully, such tools are now available to companies. As a Deloitte report notes, "The half-life of skills is rapidly falling, placing huge demands on learning in the digital age. The good news is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning" [14].

Many of these models can be highly customized to fit the evolving needs of employers and employees. This is where EdCast enters the picture.

EdCast enables L&D teams to innovate at massive scale and build an agile and smart workforce. It does so by building a culture of lifelong learning and utilizing AI to provide timely, customized lessons to improve performance on a daily basis.

Modern L&D can make learning more self-service. It can promote employee-pull instead of employee-push, the latter of which has resulted in poor engagement and little demonstrable ROI in the past two decades.

With Learning Management Systems’ (LMS) NPS scores hovering around -30, it is clear that L&D departments have to look beyond LMS. They should innovate rapidly with next-generation platforms like EdCast that tap into the intrinsic motivation of individuals for self-directed learning while building the culture of daily bite-size microlearning.

References:

  1. New study shows nearly half of US jobs at risk of computerisation
  2. Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative
  3. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond
  4. Growing Talent Internally: 7 Steps for an Effective Learning and Development Strategy
  5. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force
  6. Generations: Demographic Trends In Population And Workforce
  7. Big demands and high expectations: The Deloitte Millennial Survey
  8. The Future of Corporate Learning - Ten Disruptive Trends
  9. How L&D teams keep up with the millennial workforce
  10. State of Learning & Development 2016
  11. Learning is Evolving (Quickly), and So Must the L&D Budget
  12. Lessons from Davos’17: Learnability as Visionary CEO’s Key Metric
  13. How L&D Leaders Can Save Their Companies From Extinction
  14. Careers and learning: Real time, all the time: 2017 Global Human Capital Trends
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