Diverse Workforce – How to Meet Learning Needs?

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How does an organization meet the learning needs of a diverse work base? What are the learning strategies it adopts to make its workforce stay focused and engaged? A look at some numbers (below) will set the context for this question.

•    25 percent of Fortune 500 managers change jobs each year
•    31 percent of people have quit a job within the first six months
•    81 percent of those who leave early are in entry or intermediate-level positions
•    22 percent of turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment.
•    46 percent of new employees burn out in the first 18 months.
•    Cost of losing an employee in the 1st year is estimated to be at least three times the salary

Besides these statistics, one cannot ignore the fact that the learner profile is becoming as dynamic as the category of workers. On one side we have organizations that are drafting out  learning and development strategies to cater to the growing population of millennials entering the workforce. On the other side one cannot but notice the diversity among workers – for, you have flexible, part-time, contract, and contingent work options available depending on the organizational needs.

Diverse_Workforce_how_to_meet_learning_needsAfter all, business takes its cues from the world economy, and talent development follows suit. Most trends in the profession arise from the same conditions that drive changes in business. No Ordinary Disruption, a new book from McKinsey & Company, cites these four: an aging world population, economic activity shifting to emerging markets, the pervasive impact and ubiquity of technology, and the global flow of capital, people, and information.

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If such is the scenario, then the delivery of learning too has to be a need-based one with the emphasis on bringing out growth-oriented business outcomes. For starters, knowing the demographic profile of learners can definitely help in putting an effective learning framework in place.Of course, learning now needs to take the 4Cs into consideration, which are – critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation.

A real-time experience of Origin which involved providing a learning solution for a well-known retail client will throw some light on the importance of assessing the needs before drawing the Learning and Development (L&D) framework. The retailer with a portfolio of niche and luxury brands was faced with the typical growth and business needs. In order to address them, the L&D framework had to take care of challenges such as:

  1. On-going demand for new hires to support high-growth rates in multiple locations
  2. Emphasis on service excellence highlighting the need for consistent, ongoing, and high quality L&D
  3. A single portal for learning, sharing, and collaboration accessible through any device (PC, smartphone, or tablets)
  4. Retailer’s presence in multiple airports meant rapid scaling up of operations to support newer airport contracts won – meaning large-scale training of new hires in hundreds and thousands
  5. Creating a best practices community to enable effective knowledge-sharing on continuous improvement of customer experience
  6. Common dashboard to showcase success stories and lessons learnt
  7. Advocating a system that enables peer-to-peer linkage for problem resolution between employees
  8. Social communication for a stronger network and common understanding across the multiple global locations via a single platform
  9. User-generated content to encourage, nurture, and promote communication and collaboration besides an informal exchange of ideas and thoughts between employees
  10. Single platform to drive senior leadership messages
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The solution in this case was the roll-out of Konnect – an innovative, social technology platform that enables learning to be fun, easy, collaborative, and result-oriented. Four components of Konnect that made it a successful learner engaging experience are as follows:

•    Creation of a distributed hosting model for videos and graphics
•    Creation of a BYOD (bring your own device) Open Device Policy
•    Creation of Social Media Policy
•    Creation of new interfaces

To sum up, an effective L&D framework is about finding the right mix and dose of learning that will keep the learners up-to-date and keen on business and personal growth.





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