Adaptive Learning for Today’s Evolving Workforce

by John Ambrose

“Ultimately, the goal learning and HR leaders have is to be able to leverage HR and learning analytics to understand what training has been most effective. Using that information, they then can implement the programs that drive better personal and organizational performance. In the current competitive landscape, adaptive, individualized learning will be the biggest differentiator for companies.”

The primary challenge facing today’s C-suite is the management, growth, and development of the organization’s most important asset, its people. Failure or success in these areas directly correlates with how well and to what extent they provide employees with proper training, skills, and leadership development.

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What’s different about today’s workforce?

To answer this question, we need to examine how organizations develop and train their workforces today—and we can start with “one-size fits all” learning programs. They may have worked years ago when employees often held static positions, but in today’s knowledge-based economy that is no longer the case. The workplace and workforce are rapidly-evolving dynamic entities. The speed of change, and the failure of organizations to evolve their training programs to be more agile and adaptive, has created an ever-widening gap between employee learning needs and the organization’s ability to meet them. Consider some of the factors in the workplace ecosystem that are contributing to this situation:

  • The workforce is highly diversified and presents a new set of challenges brought about by outsourcing, global expansion, and the diverse work styles, behaviors, and expectations of a multi-generational workforce.
  • An increasing number of people entering the workforce are seeking on-the-job training and lack the experiences and skills necessary to work with today’s technologies.
  • To manage a workforce with rapidly evolving demographics, managers’ leadership skills need to be highly effective, but all too often it is an endeavor based around trial and error and learning from past mistakes.

The challenge then becomes not just, “How do I offer my employees more learning programs?” but rather, “How do I offer an employee the right learning programs in the right context?” or “How do I identify and provide the needed tools in time to support an employee’s growth?” For starters, this requires more individualized learning programs that tailor training to each employee, spanning positions, career paths, and levels of experience.

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Align individual development with organizational goals.

Organisational success is no accident. It is achieved through intentional leadership, making the right tools and resources available to employees, and implementing defined processes around real-time personalized development so employees are prepared to solve business problems. Organizations can  realize significant breakthroughs in performance when they graduate from a “usage equals value” mindset (offering more programs and measuring headcount) to an operating model that perpetually promotes continuous learning through engagement and tight alignment.

There are four primary factors that enable organizations to achieve these goals:

  • Engagement—successful engagement in learning programs starts with committed leaders setting the direction and tone. This means objectives are defined up front and continuous improvement on those benchmarks is top of mind.
  • Alignment—the initial step in ensuring proper alignment is involving leadership to determine learning priorities that focus on end results. Similarly, it is essential that you integrate HR with the talent strategy to ensure staff members understand program objectives and are committed to achieving them.
  • Adoption—this translates into many individuals consuming learning resources over time and then actively integrating those skills into their daily activities to improve their personal performance as well as that of the teams they’re involved with. Adaptable, data-driven eLearning programs allow individuals to apply their training on the fly and can scale to meet the needs of every individual across the entire organization.
  • Value—the ultimate test for any learning metric is whether it improves business performance. For learning programs, this means giving individuals a better understanding of their strengths and their opportunities for improvement. Upon seeing measureable improvements in their performance, these individuals can become strong learning advocates and more valuable contributors to the organization as a whole.

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