Enterprise employees are under a lot of pressure to anticipate what they need to do to flourish in the workplace of the future, especially since many jobs, specific job functions, and even entire industries are expected to disappear as automation and artificial intelligence become more prevalent. (See “For Workers In the Digital Economy, Staying Still is Falling Behind.”)
But unless companies are planning on transitioning to an all-robot workforce, it’s obvious that enterprises also have a real incentive to help employees adapt to the demands — and opportunities — of tomorrow’s workplace.
The enterprises that will be most successful will be those able to instill in or extract from their employees the skills and mindsets best suited for a rapidly changing digital economy. Indeed, if effective collaboration can increase the chances of a team project succeeding, collaboration between enterprises and employees on perpetual skills development can transform an entire organization. Learn or lose out.
Cornerstone On Demand, a cloud-based recruiting and training systems provider, recently released a report with The Institute for the Future (“Navigating the Skills Economy”) asserting that “creating a culture of learning is now a ‘change or die’ moment for organizations.”
“For the most sought-after employees, learning is a critical recruitment and retention issue,” the report concludes. “They understand the new landscape and expect to be supported in their efforts to develop new skills and thrive in it.”
Cornerstone identifies three key characteristics of a vibrant learning culture:
1. It starts at the top. “The actions, values and language of company leaders shape how everyone in an organization operates and can make or break a learning program. Training should have a specific, concrete goal with measurable results. Never, ever institute training for the sake of training. Always, imbue it with a sense of discovery, engagement – and even fun.”
Well, “fun” should rule out PowerPoint presentations!
2. It leans into everyday consumer tools. “Everyone is online, on their phones and talking to each other on social media. It’s no longer enough to have a repository of learning content that workers can access only at their desk. For learning to stick, it’s imperative to meet your employees with the modern training they need at the time they need it, and to deliver it through their preferred channel.”
The other way of looking at this is that, in terms of learning and training, employees should be treated like customers. A smart digital organization will address the real-time needs of its customers in the way those customers prefer; likewise, a “vibrant learning culture” requires the same for employees — personalized and on-demand service.
3. It grows and celebrates learners. “Digital technology enables employees to access information anytime and anywhere to get jobs done. But access doesn’t always equal ‘learning.’ A culture of learning is one in which every person is dedicated to improving themselves and others. It’s important to share, welcome and celebrate knowledge.”
This gets back to the first item that mentions “a specific, concrete goal with measurable results.” Who’s going to get better faster, the guitarist who noodles around while watching Netflix, or the player who puts in 30 focused minutes of practice every day to learn scales up and down the fretboard? The answer is obvious.
Finally, the report makes a case for proactive, rather than reactive learning: “To prepare for a dynamic new future, organizations and workers alike must focus on fixing what doesn’t yet appear to be broken – resolving to get strong and stay strong to thrive in any scenario.”
“Dying is easy, comedy is hard” is an old saying among actors. I propose the following saying for enterprises trying to stay ahead in the digital economy: “Change is hard, dying is harder.”
Is your enterprise positioned to change? Or die?