Hybrid working that became a common corporate practice during the pandemic is now a fundamental way of work for many companies because of its intrinsic benefits. As per a Gartner report, 75% of hybrid workers say their expectations for working flexibly have increased since the pandemic began.

For the L&D ecosystem, this reshaped workplace has meant developing effective learning strategies so that both office and remote employees have a seamless learning experience. It is definitely not easy to engage overwhelmed employees who are operating on different schedules and using new tools. What has been clear in the past two years is that traditional training models are not completely effective as businesses move too fast and the workforce is too busy, distracted and geographically dispersed.

Besides, this is also the time when organizations are seeing an increased need for upskilling and reskilling to improve internal talent mobility, making it imperative for L&D to guide through unfamiliar waters.

Why Continuous Employee Development Matters

Employee development is an important process towards enhancing employees’ existing competencies and skills and developing new ones that will contribute towards overall organizational productivity. While employee development surely requires investment in terms of time, effort and resources, these are justified over time, especially if they are done in the right manner. After all, continuously taking efforts to develop employees is a sure-shot way of getting your human assets up and running more efficiently – a must in today’s competitive world.

A carefully crafted employee development strategy is important at several levels. And when executed properly, it can lead to multiple benefits for various stakeholders including employees, leaders and the organization as a whole. A workforce that’s fully engaged and committed at every level is crucial for the success of an organization. Studies by the Dale Carnegie institute found that a highly engaged workforce can lead to outstanding productivity improvements – as high as 202%.

Driving employees to be engaged, so that they remain motivated is closely linked to factors such as a good working environment, recognition and rewards, frequent communication and most importantly good training.

Employee Development: A Challenge in the Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace, however, presents a number of unique challenges when it comes to employee development given the virtual relationship between coworkers, their managers, and other operation channels. Employees are often overwhelmed and exhausted as they have to end up over-scheduling online meetings to compensate for the physical distance extending beyond normal work hours.

Additionally, remote work settings have also made it harder for personal and professional relationships to develop and foster because the trust needed to ease this process is comparatively lesser. Most employees are reluctant to return to work and give up on the flexibility of remote work, in turn making it tough to arrange physical training sessions.

Nurturing Continuous Employee Development in the Hybrid Workplace

In the face of all these challenges, it is upto L&D to take the right steps to foster employee development enabling them to garner the skills and competencies required to drive their own development.

Here are a few ways of doing so:

Build robust end-to-end employee learning experiences: It is important to reimagine the power and purpose of employee learning and development. The first step for L&D is to understand learners and their preferences and learning styles. In order to function well in the hybrid environment, there is a need to accelerate investments in virtual collaboration as well as critical areas of capability development. To help employees hone and master skills that ensure their growth, L&D has to offer creative and forward-looking solutions to replace the traditional ways of training.

Align learning with needs and wants: Employees need to be given constant opportunities to develop their own skills, grow their individual interests and talents so that they become highly skilled experts in their field of operation. Most employees look for satisfaction and perform at higher levels when they are convinced their employer is helping them take the steps to excel in their career.

Adopt a Learner-Centric Approach: Given that learners are at the center of any learning experience, if they don’t feel engaged in what they’re doing, they may not be learning as much as they could. A learner-centric learning approach focuses on customizing the experience to the learner rather than the other way round. Further, it seeks to understand all about the learners first before designing learning for them. The purpose of customizing content is to allow learners to take away what’s most relevant to them instead of everything.

Deliver Personalized Learning: The findings of the Workplace Learning Report 2022 say that the need for personalized learning is gaining more demand than ever, with 78% of respondents saying they want course recommendations based on career goals and skill gaps. Employees prefer learning that they think is relevant to their current role. It is important to hand over the reins of learning to learners so that they can focus on their own learning. Personalizing the learning experience can give learners the flexibility to choose the time and method of learning. A Learning Management System (LMS) is a great platform for this since it hosts courses, automates learning and most importantly personalizes learning to a great degree through technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

In Conclusion:

In order to be in tandem with the changing times, L&D teams now need to move to a more flexible training model that integrates learning and work. For this, a learner-centric approach is more important than ever to suit the hybrid workforce.

To help L&D navigate swiftly while designing learning for new age learners, UpsideLMS has released a playbook titled ‘Delivering Learner-Centric Training in the Era of Hybrid Work’. Grab your copy today to successfully create effective training programs for your workforce.

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