Every tech-enabled learning program, every L&D endeavor eventually boils down to certain evaluations like – accomplishing more in less time, achieving the performance and organizational goals and similar metrics. In other words, ‘Productivity’. While some might attribute increased profit and productivity to state-of-art technology, the influence of ‘training’ is quite significant. According to a study of more than 3,100 U.S. workplaces, conducted by The National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce (EQW), “on average, a 10 percent increase in workforce education level led to an 8.6 percent gain in total productivity. But a 10 percent increase in the value of equipment increased productivity just 3.4 percent.”
In the last 3 posts of the series based on the research report-cum-whitepaper, Leading and Managing in the Age of Disruption, published by Cegos, our partner for Off-The-Shelf eLearning and a worldwide leader in training and development, we discussed the influence of Technology & Innovation, Human Touch and Strategy on learning in the age of disruption. The whitepaper based on the survey on L&D and HR professionals across the APAC region, pointed out yet another crucial aspect ‘Productivity’ on which we shall focus in this post.
This section in Cegos whitepaper opens with the statement, “Leaders and managers must keep in touch with their workforce and create an environment that maximizes operational efficiencies and productivity. With a willingness to act, and action to remove unnecessary obstacles, organizations can really thrive in a tough marketplace.”
Here are the reasons for such a conclusion- “66% of respondents say they do not feel fully supported to do their job properly. A total of 62% of respondents say they are either occasionally or frequently overwhelmed by emails and phone calls, so managers should create strategies to stop this from being too disruptive”
It is further added that, “Managers must put systems in place to identify problems as soon as they occur, then take steps to rectify them in a reasonable time frame.”
So, what are the ways to boost productivity? What is the role of management and learning technology. Here are some ideas shared by thought leaders on how ‘Productivity’ can be influenced with learning in the age of disruption. Points such as improving communication and empowering your workforce – have already been covered in the earlier posts.
1. Be Agile and Identify Barriers
Identifying barriers to development and growth is more of a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Actively removing the barriers so that managers and the teams can adapt quicker is usually what should follow. Maintaining a skilled workforce is the key to face any such barrier/obstacle. Learning culture and LMSs (Learning Management Systems) in particular assist in staying Agile. An LMS can allow everyone in the organization and even the clients/consumers to learn from each other. It can store market research, instructions on how to use software programs and other technologies, and many other technical and customer service information in the form of reference materials, eLearning courses, videos etc. It can also be used to collect and organize data related to employees’ skill sets and professional goals and connect learners through social learning modules.
2. Take Steps to Become a Leaner Organization
Becoming a leaner organization starts with cutting layers of bureaucracy and management down to the bare necessities. While LMSs have little to do with bureaucracy, it has the power to influence decision making. Recently, a campaign on Data Quality emphasized that, ‘Data is Power’. LMSs can generate a lot of data in form of reports. Using this data for decision-making could be the key to creating personalized learning and developing more effective instructional strategies.
3. Follow the ‘Two Pizza’ Rule
The ‘Two Pizza’ Rule specifies that meetings should have no more people than can comfortably share two pizzas! And rightly so. After all meetings and boardroom sessions, at times, end up fruitless due to various factors – ‘excessive time consumption’ being the most important one. An LMS can be used as a channel for such discussions. Chat rooms, Discussion Boards, Communities can serve to trigger discussions on different aspects and find potential solutions without actual face-to-face interaction. Out-of-the-box solutions can then be refined in the actual meetings.
The report also proposes that, “as an alternative to meetings, have mini-huddles of maximum two hours with a couple of critical agenda points, clear outcome-focused objectives and some actions to follow.”
4. Set Regular Targets
Planning ahead, setting goals etc. are ways to achieve better productivity. And what better way to make it happen than through LMSs, which help in creating learning/training calendars in line with goals and objectives, scheduling tasks, setting reminders, ensuring Continuing Professional Development, Compliance Training/ Re-training, Competency Management etc. and ensure that learners take up the courses assigned to them and to keep them on track with personal and organizational goals.
5. Promote Diversity of Thought
When opinions and ideas are formed within the management bubble, there tends to be a very little room for opposition as opposed to a culture of open discussions and idea sharing, which increases employee satisfaction and retention. LMSs with collaboration tools provide a platform where employees can find answers to their queries by opening a thread on a forum, asking an instructor or joining a group. The Social Learning features with their ability to capture and connect people bring in an additional flavor to the thought diversity.
6. Automate where you can
While automation is welcome, it is important to avoid automation that takes away too much of the human element. As mentioned in the post that focused on the human touch, automation that too specifically the use of LMSs to schedule and automate training and assessments takes away the burden of certain laborious and monotonous tasks and increases productivity. However, the effect of face-to-face interactions and learning cannot be undermined.
In conclusion, the Cegos whitepaper lists some key actions for organizations in each region i.e. India, Thailand, Australia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and The Philippines respectively. Two aspects that were common for all are:
- There is significant strength in terms of leader and manager readiness, so there is much to build on.
- Employees should be given a greater role in decision making and in influencing strategy.
In a nutshell, tech-enabled learning, especially LMSs should be leveraged well to increase employee engagement, decrease training time, and increase productivity.