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Agility and Flexibility - the New Buzzwords of Learning and Development

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) partnered with SAP Success Factors to conduct ALPHA Round Table for PSUs on Accelerating learning in the new world of work on 8th July from 3 PM – 4:30 PM IST

The round-table panel discussion witnessed enthusiastic participation with HR heads from large PSUs gracing the occasion with their esteemed presence. We had the following speakers with us:

  • A.K Kalra, Director HR, EIL
  • Ms Usha Singh, Director HR MOIL Ltd
  • Dr Kamakshi Raman, ED SAIL Management Training Institute (MTI)
  • Ms Urvija Bajpai, ED and Head IIPM
  • Ms Divya Capoor, CGM HR ONGC
  • Stanley Mathews, CGM HRD, Power Grid Academy of Leadership
  • Gautam Sanganeria, Sr Pre-sales Specialist, SAP SuccessFactors
  • Dr Balvir Talwar, ED CC & HR BHEL
  • Shazir Viqar, Associate Director, SuccessFactors SAP India

The session was moderated by Ashissh Kaul - Associate Director, Knowledge & Advisory & Business Head - PSE business, SHRM India

In this special session, we discussed, how agile organizations can accelerate learning in the new world of work


Post COVID-19, we are in a brand new learning environment that has bought some exciting new challenges. Workplace learning has to evolve if companies want to remain agile and navigate effectively through the change.

The goal for organizations is clear – to repurpose, reposition, redefine and acquire new forms and modes of learning to be able to adapt. Companies need to brainstorm in order to develop approaches that make learning engaging and relevant.

Towards this, SHRM recently organized a round-table online discussion with key HR spokesperson from leading PSUs of the country. In close association with SAP, the aim of this event was to capture insights on how we can accelerate learning and development in the new normal.


To begin, some key challenge areas were identified by the organizers and esteemed panelists which needed addressing. They are as follows:

  • Accelerating learning and development in a Hybrid model of work
  • Culture building to enhance learning and development
  • Nurturing an emotional and empathetic workforce
  • Using L&D to obviate talent displacement
  • Up-skilling and re-skilling in conjunction with business continuity plans
  • Managing communication and supporting employee collaboration


In one of its latest studies Deloitte Consulting reported some promising statistics in the field of L&D which serves as a harbinger of hope for organizations old and new. Here are some of the insights unleashed by them:

  • Virtual learning presents an exciting opportunity and is here to stay. A 378% increase in the number of daily users has been observed by a virtual learning and communications company. Virtual delivery will endeavour space reduction between learning and work
  • The pandemic has ensured that employees spend their time well. A 176% increase has been witnessed in learning and viewing online content
  • 72% Indians have shown their preference for e-learning over traditional classroom platforms
  • Every 3 in 5 Indians want to engage in online learning for up-skilling and career advancement
  • Business models and learning strategy need to work in harmony to yield better results. The present learning strategy needs to be completely overhauled to align with long term business goals. Immediate business outcomes to take precedence
  • Increase spend is being seen on learning technology with budgetary cuts
  • Present content is being curated to make it more relevant, personalized and contextual
  • A leading mandate for L&D will be to build a resilient and emotionally intelligent work force
  • Experiential learning will trump classroom learning and will help to augment work. Thus investments will be channelized towards experiential modes of learning vis-à-vis conventional ones


Organizations that seamlessly adopt technology will always be one step ahead. Technologies such as AI and ML will change the way we work. Within these technologies change will be rapid. Thus education imparted to harness the potential of these technologies will have to be transformative. Newer learning strategies will be built around e-learning and automated. Organizations have a huge task in front of them with re-skilling and up-skilling initiatives as employees rush for career up-gradation and certification. Smart phones and gamification will give a new lease of life to learning with more focus on experiential learning.


Change management has never been more difficult and companies have an uphill task bringing about this change through employees and their management. With MI and AI, there is also a need to nurture employees who can think critically and analytically. Management will also have to be more accepting of diversity changes especially at the global level. Focus will be on building a workforce with higher aspirations and emotional resilience.


Keeping people motivated is essential if companies do not want to risk the loss of key talent. Any kind of change bought about in learning and development has to begin from the top. Organizations must strive for ethical behavior where actions and words align. This can foster a favourable environment for learning. There also needs to be consistent alignment between the role of the individual and the organization. Create learning programs that not only fulfill company objectives but also cater to employee growth and ambitions. Outbound learning programs done virtually, regular assessments and understanding the pulse of the people are some of the ways companies can build a learning culture.


The main take-away of this discussion is:

  • Curate content internally using approaches that are not only agile but are also effective and enhance efficiency within organizations
  • The new ‘Hybrid Models’ of work will encompass features of both content curation and creation
  • Learning will be more learner-centric, in-house and personalized
  • Resilience, empathy and high emotional intelligence will be the cornerstones of an L&D enabled and evolved workforce. This includes traits such as creativity, critical thinking, teaming, social intelligence and adaptive thinking
  • Policies need to be in place to support training institutes, develop curriculum and impart learning
  • Learning and development must come under the KPI of the company in all its performance contracts. There should be no place or room for complacency
  • Varied learning will help engage employees with more focus on immersive and 3D learning. Learning through sharing on web-enabled platforms will see an impetus


An urgent re-look is needed at the current learning operating models in the quest for a transition to a more agile and digitally driven business model. Business and learning strategy need to be closely aligned to meet objectives. Organic learning will reap richer dividends in the flow of work. All efforts must be channelized towards adoption of this model through leadership messaging and smart change management. Budget optimization through cost-cutting and self-funding can unearth the potential of new learning and development programs.


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