What millennials want: Why businesses need to recognise individual needs, style

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Published: January 8, 2018 5:05:40 AM

Traditionally, talent development and learning initiatives thereof have been viewed from the lens of enhancing productivity of the employees and enabling their career growth aspirations.

what business need these, need for startups, millennials in businessStudies have shown that when there is a sustained effort towards learning and development, it leads to higher levels of motivation in the organisation and better retention of employees.

Traditionally, talent development and learning initiatives thereof have been viewed from the lens of enhancing productivity of the employees and enabling their career growth aspirations. Studies have shown that when there is a sustained effort towards learning and development, it leads to higher levels of motivation in the organisation and better retention of employees. With digital tools and technologies available, it is important to recognise that learning can take place outside the organisation at the convenience of employees in areas of their interest and choice and therefore, employees do not have total dependence on the organisation for self development. Even when an organisation provides a set of learning and development (L&D) pathways, employees, specially the millennials, prefer their own learning pathways and would like to learn at their own pace and use the style that best suits them which may be different from the plan that organisations work upon. Therefore, the moot question is how can organisations recognise the individual needs and styles of learning and align the talent development plan of the organisation with them and how they can keep them motivated with the training initiatives drawn up by the organisation as well as build connectedness among the employees.

Firstly, organisations need to have a mechanism to redefine the competencies required for existing and emerging roles at regular intervals, given the dynamic nature of the business and the resultant expectations of how employees are expected to perform. Employees should have an opportunity on a continual basis to assess their readiness for the future and have the ability to access the learning pathways and the required learning content. The transparency and flexibility that organisations can provide in this context using digital platform will build motivation and confidence in employees towards their own future.

Next, L&D has to come forward to redraw the boundaries of learning by not restricting learning to the classroom or to the already created e-learning content repositories and find ways of expanding the horizons of learning from multiple new channels. These channels could include content freely available on the internet, tapping knowledge of colleagues, coaching by experts and others.

Some organisations may be already facilitating these avenues but the challenge with most is that these learning channels work in silos. Therefore, neither the L&D function has the visibility on how learning and development of individuals is shaping up nor does the organisation have the ability to access and expand on the knowledge assets—tacit and explicit—on an ongoing basis. This calls for a robust digital learning platform which is plugged into all the existing HR systems—HRMIS, Performance Management System, Competency Dictionaries and the Learning Management Systems and creates a comprehensive approach for enabling all stakeholders—business, HR, employees and also the content partners to come together and create a vibrant ecosystem for talent development.

When powered by AI tools, the organisation is able to first suggest the ideal career pathway or support the career aspirations of the employees and serve up the content that is relevant and customised for the employees from within or outside the boundaries of the organisation. Further, based on the business needs and the updated competencies or skills required by the organisation as well as the interests of the employees, analytics and AI tools can recommend an ideal set of employees who could be considered for upskilling. Through continuous interaction with the employees, AI tools can also pick up silent cues related to their motivation and predict imminent departure or dissatisfaction, thus bringing forth timely alerts to the managers about the need to have conversations with the employees. Such interventions addressing both the motivation levels as well as their customised learning needs could help HR managers to build better connectedness with the employees.

Through the interactions between employees, enormous amount of understanding of not just the requirements of upskilling but what new knowledge or competencies have been developed by employees would also surface. This can be tapped with the help of AI powered smart assessment engines. Learning and sharing of knowledge could become a seamless process, whether the employee is at the workplace or outside and is using any device.

The other significant advantage for the organisation from these interactions amongst the employees is the ability to understand the gaps in current offerings or how the customers are being serviced and speedily address them and thus the digital platform could also act as the fountainhead for breakthrough ideas and innovation. By assigning weightages to such healthy interactions and recognising and rewarding the employees for their answers to queries raised, as well as for the personal initiatives of employees demonstrating their competencies, HR managers would see significant return on investment on the digital learning platform by enabling them to nurture a positive culture in the organisation.

The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company

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