Facilitating learning and training is one of the main functions of HR. Through this, they ensure that their employees are up-to-date with the latest and the required knowledge and skills to do their jobs.
But, can organizations provide all the employees with the required training, and are the employees receptive to these training programs arranged for them? Do they look at them as a value-add? Or would they rather learn on their own and at their own time, and choose their own resources?
We connected with Abhijit Bhaduri, Leadership Coach, Author and CLO, Wipro Ltd., to understand the current employee learning landscape - with a focus on informal learning, and to get some insights into his new book - The Digital Tsunami, that is being launched at the conference.
Here's an excerpt of the interview, in Abhijit's own words.
"Learning is a natural process. We are born curious - the most important ingredient for being a learner. Today's employees are no different. In a world being swept away by the digital tsunami, it is even more important to keep learning and stay current. People want to be able to learn what is needed to be successful in their current job. They are ambitious and want to stay future ready', says Abhijit about the current generation of employees and their attitude towards learning.
We agree that in today's competitive environment, employees are ambitious and they want to be future ready. But, as organizations are we prepared to help them (all) achieve this goal? Are we equipped to meet their learning requirements? This is why "Informal Learning is becoming increasingly important, especially because getting employees into a formal training program involves travel costs and bringing them into a classroom for a few days", he says, introducing us to the concept of informal learning. "It is also easy to start," he adds.
Organizations interested in exploring informal learning can start with "exploring YouTube videos, arranging talks by entrepreneurs, and social media platforms like Yammer or Facebook can be used to encourage people to share what they know. These three ideas/avenues are most popular among people", he says. They can also explore some more ideas here.
Informal learning seems to be the panacea to a lot of the problems that we face while arranging learning or training programs. But, since it is informal, there is a fear that it may create a knowledge skew in the organization - some can be trusted to imbibe knowledge and learn on their own, some cannot. It will be difficult to monitor this for the HR, we voiced our doubts. "The role of HR is to create a culture of learning. Celebrating those who learn and teach their colleagues can go a long way in encouraging others to follow suit", Abhijit says.
Elaborating further, he explains that "organizations already have formal learning systems in place. This needs to be supplemented by encouraging employees to bring their own learning to the workplace. Wanting to share ideas, coach others and teach are all very powerful yardsticks of an engaged employee. Formal and informal learning have to co-exist".
We also ask him about his latest book - The Digital Tsumani and the effect of the digital revolution on the business landscape to which he replies "when anything is turned digital, it begins to work in an entirely new way. Think of photography and how digital cameras have made good photography simple. Anyone can point and shoot a great photo. Experimentation is possible. If someone does not like the photo they just clicked, they simply delete it and shoot a few more. The results can be shared instantaneously and for free. Zero distribution costs is another feature of the digital world. Businesses have to create value for customers by making business processes, simpler, instantaneous and engaging. Digital tools like chatbots, AR, VR, Artificial Intelligence etc., can be brought in to revise every process that connects the customers or the employees".
Adding further that "to be able to work in the digital world, organizations will need to change the way they view employees, customers, competition etc. A new mindset is needed to operate in the digital world".
"Organizations will need to dare to dream of the new rules that will help them succeed in a digital scenario. That means putting the employee in the center and redesigning the organizational processes that will create an outstanding employee experience", he says when asked about how organizations can succeed in this new environment.
When asked how we can leverage this Digital Tsunami for developing new and engaging learning methods - both informal and formal - "the analog world is more stable. The processes are more stable. Hence training someone to follow the defined steps is done through all the training programs. In the digital world the future does not look like the past. Hence creative problem solving becomes one of the most important skills to have. That is why organizations have to move from training to learning", Abhijit responds.
Here's an illustration shared by Abhijit, that aptly explains how informal learning works.
Based on the above, it's safe to say that Learning is the future - for both the employees and organizations that want to succeed. To know more about how you can make the shift from training to learning, join this discussion at the SHRM India Annual Conference and Exposition 2016. To attend the book launch for The Digital Tsunami, register here.
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