Reskilling the workforce remains a top priority as organizations adapt to constantly evolving technology solutions, processes, and ways of thinking. In fact, 84 percent of participants in Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey plans to increase their reskilling programs budget, while 54 percent of those surveyed by the World Economic Forum said they expect to reskill or upskill their workforce in the next three years.
Team members in learning and development (L&D) are not immune to this trend. If anything, they must reskill more effectively to help the rest of the organization do so as well. But as the L&D function helps incorporate learning in the flow of work, can it drink its own champagne and teach itself how to grow and adapt at work? This article explores why an in-the-flow-of-work approach to L&D is critical to reskilling the workforce.
A Personalized Approach to Learning
Our research shows organizations with strong capabilities in certain areas are better at creating work-embedded learning opportunities. These capabilities include:
- Knowledge management
- Content curation
- Personalized learning
- Information architecture
This makes intuitive sense. According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, leading organizations are delivering learning to their people in a more personal way, integrating work and learning more closely. Organizations that excel at this type of personalized learning and curation have an advantage when it comes to creating on-the-fly learning opportunities. Organizations that are adept at knowledge management are also well-positioned since they can more easily provide online and digital tools (e.g., wikis, MOOCs, searchable discussion forums) and external online content where workers can access them. But building these capabilities takes investment and a willingness to change, and some L&D organizations are struggling to make that adjustment.
Leading organizations are taking steps to deliver learning in a more personal way, integrating work and learning more closely—though some are struggling to make the adjustment.
A Shift in Mindset
This shift from creation to curation, the development of personalized learning experiences, and the connection of learning and work are trends that have been underway for quite a while. But as of 2017, 35 percent of organizations were still trying to effect change—largely through courses and programs.In spring 2019, we interviewed learning leaders as part of our research on the role of the chief learning officer (CLO) in the future of work. Those conversations reinforced this shift had still not happened in many organizations.
A plurality of the CLOs we interviewed spoke of needing to help their teams shift mindsets away from building programs, curricula, and new content and more toward the curation of existing, user-generated, and open-source content as ways to meet workers’ needs. They also identified the need to explicitly build curation, information architecture, design thinking, and personalization capabilities within their learning organization.
Given this clear need, why have some organizations not yet reskilled their learning teams? Learning leaders who haven’t made the shift say they are still making the case for change. They describe their work as influencing their organizations and leaders to invest in those capabilities, building business cases to shift learning approaches, and influencing their own teams to do different things. After all, L&D practitioners have been asked to build great content for more than 20 years—creating industry recognition to celebrate it, conducting continuing education to teach new and innovative methods to enhance it, and developing various systems to disseminate it. As they consider asking their own teams to reskill, learning leaders and organizations share the same dilemma: How do you change what people have been doing at work for years?
As they consider asking their own teams to reskill, learning leaders and organizations share the same dilemma: How do you change what people have been doing at work for years?
Reskilling in the Flow of Work
While reskilling is not easy, it is an imperative for learning leaders and their teams. To truly make the shift, L&D should take an in-the-flow-of-work approach.
Here are some tactics to consider:
- Look within. The best source of talent could already be working inside your organization. Assess whether proficiencies in curation, personalization, knowledge management, and design thinking already exist. This talent is likely working inside your customer-facing teams.
- Borrow for the win. Rotate that talent onto your team. Learning team members working side-by-side with people who have essential learning skills provide exposure to experts and real-time mentor opportunities. If working together also helps the customer-facing team perform better, both teams win.
- Spread the love. Lend your own talent to customer-facing teams. Alternatively, your team members can get the same type of exposure and change of scenery by moving onto a different team—with the additional benefit of a deeper level of insight into what workers experience inside your organization.
- Look outside the box. Don’t be afraid to leverage the alternative workforce. If you don’t have internal talent available, a contractor or gig worker could join your team as a side-by-side mentor and bring with them the insights they’ve obtained from working with other organizations.
Leaders and their teams can successfully reskill by taking an in-the-flow-of-work approach to learning.
L&D leaders need to access curation, knowledge management, and information architecture capabilities while working to shift the mindsets of existing talent as they reskill. This won’t be an easy task. For the companies that succeed, however, the benefits of placing tools, information, and learning in the flow of work can be substantial.
Making it easier for workers to do their jobs simplifies their work experience and helps afford them the mental capacity and time to engage with development programs that advance their long-term career interests. Many high-performing L&D functions recognize learning in the flow of work can help them spark their own reskilling evolution. These L&D functions can, in fact, drink their own champagne.
Vice President, Learning & Leadership Research Leader
- Leading organizations are taking steps to personalize learning by more closely integrating it with the work itself.
- While CLOs recognize the need to shift from learning content creation to learning content curation, this shift has still not happened in most organizations.
- Leaders can accelerate their own growth and adaptability by taking an in-the-flow-of-work approach to learning.
- L&D leaders need to access curation, knowledge management, and information architecture capabilities while working to shift the mindsets of existing talent as they reskill.