In our previous blog post, we looked at how microlearning can play a key role in cross-functional training and learning. We continue to expand on this topic. In this blog post, we look at how Covid-19 has impacted the workforce, the skilling challenges that L&D teams are addressing, why cross-functional learning is the need of the hour, and how microlearning can be a feasible solution. We end with use cases from organizations.
Table of Contents
The Impact of Covid-19 on Work and Learning
In a research article published in the Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, the author Ileana Hamburg makes some interesting observations. She describes how Covid-19 severely impacted workplace learning as the very concept of the “office” or the “workplace” changed, and people began to work from home or wherever they were staying. She writes how organizations were quick to switch to digital learning solutions that enabled a seamless learning experience for their employees. The article stresses the importance of building a cross-functional response team that focuses on identifying relevant employees for training and using microlearning to design and deploy appropriate employee training solutions.
L&D Teams on Future-Proofing Employees
L&D teams rose to the challenge of training the workforce during Covid-19 and showed remarkable resilience, adaptive strengths, and foresight to lay out a framework for employee learning and implement it. We meet several thought-leaders in the world of L&D at flagship events like DevLearn. In our conversations with them during breaks from the interesting line-up of events and sessions; one key fact that we discovered is the remarkable use of microlearning across different content formats and learning levels to deploy employee training. Most of the people whom we met; stressed on the importance of simple, effective, and engaging learning content delivered in an easy-to-understand format. The focus was on accessible learning instead of “forced training” without any proper planning or learning outcomes. L&D teams are designing learning solutions that offer employees a chance to future-proof their careers, learn new skills, and evolve or transform into skilled professionals in other domains. This is well in line with data from various online course aggregators who have reported a massive spike in new registrations during the pandemic.
Performance Support and Learning in the Flow of Work with Microlearning
On-the-job training is a commonly used phrase where new employees or young graduates entering the workforce are paired with a mentor who helps them and guides them to learn the processes and tasks that must be done on a regular basis. This can also be described as “learning in the flow of work.” eLearning guru Josh Bersin coined this term in this popular blog post. The modern workplace has seen a tremendous transformation in the last few years. Performance support, customer engagement, and customer success are terms that are now a part of the lexicon of every business that seeks to win the hearts of its customers.
Support services play a key role in the growth of a company and the employees and teams working in such roles are under tremendous pressure to answer customer queries and keep them happy. Thus, businesses must give special focus on their training and help them respond to customer queries and resolve their complaints at the earliest. Microlearning can play a significant role in helping customer care and performance support teams be trained effectively and at a faster pace. By deploying such performance support microlearning modules in their daily work schedule, L&D teams and senior managers can ensure that the junior staffs are adequately trained in the flow of work.
Cross-Functional Training to Future-Proof your Organization
We had mentioned in our earlier blog post about the link between an organization offering its employees opportunities to learn new skills and the resultant motivation to excel. This is shown and cited regularly in the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Reports that are published annually.
Cross-functional training is an ideal solution that L&D teams can deploy to future-proof the employees in an organization and as a direct result, help organizations achieve their business goals. What cross-functional training does is that it offers employees from different departments to understand what their colleagues are working on; and how their shared efforts are linked to the organization’s vision, mission, and growth.
Let us look at how an organization has embraced the concept of cross-functional training:
India Philip Morris or IPM Is a leading FMCG company. A joint venture between Philip Morris brands Sarl of Switzerland and two Indian partners, Godfrey Phillips, India (GPI) and K.K. Modi Investment & Financial Services; there are over 100 employees working in different roles in India. This article published originally on the HR Katha website; offers some interesting insights on how IPM was able to successfully deploy cross-functional training within the organization and future-proof the employees. Their core focus has been on “agility” and how to improve it from the perspective of bringing in change, working smarter, with better mental strength, applying knowledge, and building innovative solutions.
Microlearning works as the perfect solution to help foster cross-functional training at the workplace. It is affordable, easier to design and deploy, and can be updated as per learner feedback at a much faster pace. Microlearning is not restricted to brief learning modules compressed within 10 minutes. It can be an animated video, a subject-matter expert speaking, or even a series of instructions followed by a quick interactive assessment or task that the learner has to perform. Microlearning if used properly can work as a highly impactful way for L&D teams to motivate and train employees at the workplace.
Best Practices for Using Microlearning to Deliver Cross-Functional Training
An announcement can be made on the organization’s intranet portal, or a company-wide email can be sent announcing a cross-functional training program that allows employees to be trained in a new skill. The L&D team heading this activity can set up tests to assess the capabilities of the applicants or conduct brief interviews to understand why the applicants want to sign up for the program. Some examples are – a software developer looking to move into a sales function, a pre-sales executive looking to get into digital marketing, a programmer looking to get into graphic design, a content marketer looking to get into sales or operations; these are just some hypothetical examples of cross-functional training opportunities. Opportunities are aplenty based on the breadth of the organization and the various roles offered.
Microlearning offers tremendous flexibility in creating cross-functional training programs. It is less expensive when compared to a traditional full-length eLearning course or an instructor-led training program. It is easier to deploy on a variety of learning delivery platforms especially mobile apps. It can also be updated quickly based on learner feedback.
Some points to keep in mind while using microlearning to deliver cross-functional training:
- Identify and present the learning outcomes clearly.
- Customize as per learning groups.
- Design it with accessibility in mind both from a learning medium and any learning disability perspective.
- Focus on precise and just-in-time learning that focuses on individual learning objectives.
- Embed assessments and interactive tasks that test the learners’ acumen and retention of learning.
- Use animated videos or snippets of subject-matter experts speaking on the topic for greater clarity on the subject.
- Allocate timelines based on complexity of training, existing job-profile, and quantum of work.
- Incentivize learning with recognition and rewards. This motivates employees to learn.
- Offer genuine and courteous feedback to learners with clear instructions and a pathway for improvement.
Use Case: American Organization Achieves Excellence in Cross Functional Training through Microlearning
A leading American conglomerate, primarily working in energy management and manufacturing, had a unique requirement. It wanted to design a learning program that would cater to senior employees across different departments to help them transition into leadership roles. The key learning objective of this program was to help the learners understand the organization’s financial processes, data, and statements easily. The focus was to adopt an Open Book Management or OBM philosophy to accelerate this learning program within the organization.
Origin Learning was commissioned to deliver the solution. With a microlearning-based approach to training, Origin designed short, impactful, and focused learning units that would cater to the varied audience, including members from sales, operations, billing, delivery, account management, among other departments. The final learning program that was developed, covered three key areas:
- Introduction to Cash Flow
- Income and Statement Margins
- Balance Sheet
The inputs from the SMEs helped Origin design a powerful and unique learning experience built using HTML5, Storyline 360, stock photos, typography animation, based on strong instructional design principles and learning strategies. With relevant examples and learning scenarios, the learners were able to get a clear understanding of the basics of financial management and understand the organization’s financial data easily. The program was successful with the learners rating the program 4.67 out of 5.
The opportunities for learning within an organization are limitless. As long as the L&D teams are focused on the growth, learning, and mental well-being of all the employees; there can’t be any barriers to learn and excel. Microlearning can work as an extremely powerful medium to foster learning in the flow of work and enable cross-functional training at the workplace. At Origin, our mission is to empower learners and organizations and help them achieve their training and learning goals. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can deliver an immersive microlearning experience, and future-proof the workforce and organization.