Learning and Development (L&D) has always been one of the most critical functions in an organization pivotal to its sustenance and growth. While there are a number of ways in which companies can make L&D programs a resounding success, there’s always a room for betterment. It’s no surprise then that many companies are now considering customizing their L&D programs for millennials as these 22-37 year olds are set to make up 35% of the world’s workforce by 2020, according to experts.
So, with the young workforce making up for over half of the global working population, top companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, along with regional players like Manzanillo International Terminal -Panama (MIT PAN) and InsuranceAcademy.Me, are toying with new approaches and building strategies to deliver next-level L&D programs to their employees in the coming years. While this is largely driven by the influx of Gen Ys and Gen Zs, underpinning these efforts are the new trends and technologies in learning, and the corresponding evolution user behavior. And, there are certainly a few lessons to be learnt from studying their approach to L&D.
1. Promote direct learning, to and from the employees
Googler-to-Googler or g2g is an innovative approach by Google towards employee training. Google created the g2g program to offer direct and immediate learning to and from its employees, thus promoting a culture of continuous learning. The idea behind g2g was to recognize the employees’ rights to learn and provide them with the right opportunities to grow. As a result, employees feel empowered and motivated at work, and are also in a position to impart knowledge to their peers by contributing towards the program. Although the g2g program is voluntary, employees understand its value, while Google trusts them to be more motivated and more capable.
Google also emphasizes the value of micro-learning through its ‘whisper course’ that includes micro lessons to help retention. An initiative created to develop learning in a group, Google’s micro learning course emphasizes upon managers the significance of appreciating their team members on a regular basis.
2. Encourage employees to self-learn
Apple Inc. is undoubtedly one of the most successful organizations in the world, not only in terms of the technological advances it brings about, but also its ideology and philosophy as a whole. The late Steve Jobs’ prized legacy, Apple is known to consistently deliver innovative products (both, in design and technology) including smartphones, computers and other media. As a result, it is only natural that Apple employees need to evolve so as to consistently come up with innovative product ideas. This requires constant upskilling and expertise upgrades, possibly even more frequently than in other companies.
Another brainchild of Steve Jobs, Apple University thus became the one-stop solution for Apple’s L&D. In Apple University, Steve Jobs saw the opportunity to ‘teach’ Apple’s executives to function in ‘his way’. Jobs realized that talented employee were leaving Apple for other better opportunities, and quickly addressed the need by setting up an L&D program. Today, Apple’s L&D strategy is to encourage employees to self-learn to further their career.
3. Enable employees ‘to be the best they can be’
A promoter of lifelong learning himself, Bill Gates has instilled the same values in his enterprise, Microsoft. Microsoft’s major focus is enabling its employees to ‘be the best they can be’ through continuous learning. This way, the employees feel supported and motivated to find a deeper meaning in the work they do. Inspired by the ‘growth mindset’ philosophy, Microsoft encourages its employees to embrace change. Microsoft instills the belief in its employees that if they are keen to learn, they will naturally upskill over time.
Microsoft’s success is driven largely by its culture, a culture of growth mindset, where everyone at the organization believes in their ability to change and grow, and nurture their potential for future success. Microsoft offers a wide range of L&D opportunities to its employees to support the growth mindset culture. Some of the L&D programs include, classroom training, on-the-job development & promotion opportunities, coaching on career development, personalized manager training, and more.
4. Facilitate the freedom of choice
‘Facebook Bootcamp’ is probably one of the most popular learning programs created by a company that experiences tremendous growth. Essentially developed to quickly educate newer employees, Facebook Bootcamp is quite innovate in its approach to on-boarding new employees. This 6-week long introductory course is mandatory for all new engineers to familiarize themselves with the website code base. The programs allows new PMs and engineers to take few weeks’ time to immerse themselves in Facebook’s code and other strategies. As a result, newly appointed staff ends up working on the projects that are set to go live within a week.
Bootcamp has proven successful on several fronts, including its ability to drive company growth through a culture of confidence building and encouraging all employees to uphold higher standards. The program teams up new employees with experienced employees/mentors, where the on-boarding happens as the new engineers routinely engage with different teams and departments of the company, and pick a project of their choice to work on. Facebook’s managers, on the other hand, have another program named ‘Engage Coaching Program’ that employs one-on-one sessions with an executive coach, where a new manager can learn effective management skills. The ‘Facebook Leadership in Practice’ or FLiP is another peer-to-peer program targeted towards leaders.
5. Empower collaborators with different learning tools
For Manzanillo International Terminal in Panama (MIT PAN), a maritime company dealing in port services, cargo movement, transshipment operations, and container handling for import & export, changing its approach to learning is imperative as technology continues to evolve every day, learning becomes increasingly necessary in a collaborator’s workflow and learning methods need to reflect this evolution. For this, MIT PAN has empowered its collaborators with different learning tools (underpinned by a Learning Management System) to promote a culture of knowledge, value and commitment to push learning to be strategic with a focus on goals, measurable for the continuous improvement of the business.
The maritime company strongly believes that organizations that learn, increase their efficiency and productivity, and position themselves for continuous growth. Training and Development contributes to the success of the organization, and by partnering with the employees, the external community, and the leaders, MIT PAN wants learning to be strategic, measurable and effective.
6. Make the learning experience easier
New L&D approaches are not limited to employee-related learning and training alone, but encompass providers of online/ offline training too. Like in 2019, InsuranceAcademy Me, a part of Al Sahi Consultants FZ LLS and a leading provider of a wide range of award-level Insurance programs, expects increased focus on alignment between L&D and business objectives, especially for the Insurance industry. With the learning mindset changing, learners are now interested not only in the content but also the authenticity of that content. To aid this, InsuranceAcademy Me will ensure the authenticity of its Award-level certification programs through a panel of experts like an actuary to external validation from CPD.
Furthermore, with learners reaching out to the easiest and most engaging option(s) available for their learning/ training, the company will adapt many existing and new technologies into its L&D programs to make them, both engaging and effective. Things like interactive video, Augmented Reality, Gamification and Adaptive Learning can make a huge impact on any learning program.
Last but not the least, to enable a new learning culture, driven by the learner, powered by managers, where the right access to the right learning opportunities at the right time using the most apt medium are made available, InsuranceAcademy.Me will also be expanding its footprint to include other aspect such as soft-skills, objection handling, sales excellence and other relevant areas.
The success of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and other leading companies is largely associated with their ability to keep their workforce (up) skilled with plentiful opportunities for (self) learning.
How will you change your L&D approach in 2019? Let us know in the comments section below.