Is Training, Learning and Development In Organisations Changing?
The process of training, learning and development can be characterised as the methods and activities of education which an organisation may use in order to empower or enhance its employees’ knowledge, skills and attitudes. The ultimate scope of course is to increase effectiveness, productivity and efficiency whilst (possibly) preparing the workforce for higher levels of responsibilities (If you need to learn more I would recommend CIPD‘s website).
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned everything “upside-down”. The applied measures forced every organisation and every individual to keep their distances. People were sent to work from home (some will stay there..!). The various lockdowns took into consideration not only the public training facilities (e.g. hotel conference rooms, or dedicated training areas etc.) but also the organisation’s office spaces. Thus, it was a natural consequence that organisations would record a decline in their planned activities of training, learning and development.
The Enemies of Training, Learning and Development
Training, learning and development already had their “enemies” even before the pandemic. Depending on the top management and organisational culture (always), the lack of managerial support, employee commitment, resources & time where always the “opponent” of human resources development. Can you add into the equation the “chaos” which the pandemic brought along? Organisations where struggling to find solutions on how to change their daily processes, control their remote-working employees and continue their business operations, so as to survive through the uncertain times. Thus the processes of training, learning and development lost ground…
Who is The Real Loser?
But who actually “lost ground”? The processes? The employees? Or the organisations? It is widely touted and acknowledged that organisational learning cultures connect to innovation. Innovation leads to higher chances of organisational sustainability and ultimate survival. Within this pandemic era, the organisations who cut down on their employees’ development practically they have minimised their chances for a sustainable future. That is, they have lost on potential growth on competitiveness since employees are considered to be one of the most important intellectual assets that cannot easily be copied or acquired by rivals.
Simultaneously, we shouldn’t forget each individual’s motivators and drivers that connect to the above principles. People who grow and develop feel more motivated, satisfied and engaged. Therefore, if you see yourself growing through training and learning processes you feel the difference in your performance, which leads to higher engagement in the workplace. Mapping everything, I could argue that HR practitioners should not lose focus from this process. Not now. Not in the upcoming future. Never. What the practitioners should ask themselves (and of course utilise the arguments to convince the relevant decision makers) is “how can we adjust to this new work-style without losing focus from training and development; and ultimately learning and innovating?” And of course, surviving…
The New Gaps…
To answer the above question one needs to look into the training process itself. However, can we identify the needs easily? How is the distancing affects the daily communication? Furthermore, how do we change the reporting mechanisms? Added to the above, shall we allow flexible hours? Shall the model of effectiveness include deliverables only? And not be time-constraint? How is remote working affecting each individual’s motivation and performance? Do we need to hire new talent based on the above? Do we have to identify new gaps? At the same time the HR practitioners must develop their empathetic skills. One needs to understand and act upon (possibly on an individual base) every employee’s personal status and situation. Taking into consideration all the above, a new learning plan must be devised. One that includes new goals and new targets that meet the new needs.
Now when it comes to implementation of the training there are other challenges. We need to identify how to overcome the greatest problem of “remoteness”, which is interactivity and communication. Will an in-house training vs an online-platform training have the same effectiveness? How can you “measure” the actual “presence” and engagement with the latter? Maybe here organisations need to critically revise new forms of training methods. The whole process needs questioning.
Does it need to be more interactive, playful, or fun? Maybe we should consider outdoor activities? Do we need new organisational structures to take up on training? Should the process “grow-small”? Or even build smaller teams and “break-down” the training process in small cells within the organisation? What about the frequency then? I believe that the smaller the training process and the more frequent it is, the better under the circumstances. People can absorb information much easier and at the same time the will have the opportunity to fail small; and learn faster.
The question marks always will depend on the size of the organisation, on its culture, people and ultimate needs. Is there a one-fit answer? No. Will this trend stop to seize at some time (after the pandemic is gone)? No. The overall trends show that the pandemic has speeded up what is already coming upon the organisations. And that is remote and hybrid working models.
Questioning all the above will help organisations adopt faster, since the future is already here!
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