The future of work centers around people and how they can connect with each other in meaningful ways. While collaborative technology solutions address many of the issues of this new world of work, organizations have to now identify ways to enable employees to increase productivity and stay engaged.
As the pandemic eases, most organizations are looking at a hybrid work model, one that combines remote work and on-site work. This new world of work needs that organizations retool to address the needs of their employees and drive better organizational outcomes. However, in the absence of physical proximity, it is essential to empower employees to help them develop the critical skills needed to thrive in this new and hybrid workplace.
Hybrid workplace – new place, new rules
Evolution is now becoming a constant in the enterprise narrative. As such, employee development has become a priority to ensure that organizations can remain on the path of competitive profitability. However, with limited physical interaction being the hallmark of this hybrid workplace, organizations can no longer rely on old methods that worked previously.
The Learning and Development (L&D) department has to help organizations manage this workplace evolution and help them develop the skills needed to thrive and contribute to organizational outcomes.
But is it possible to drive learning and development in the traditional, directive manner now? The answer is, no.
Survival was top of the mind when we went into the pandemic. As the dust settled, organizations realized that the world of work had indelibly changed. It was time to identify new ways of doing things – tools to drive collaboration, productivity, time management, processes, etc. all became a part of this journey.
What also became evident that the playing field had changed.
For leaders, this meant identifying new leadership strategies and shift from being remote bosses to virtual leaders.
For managers, this shift signified learning new ways to connect with the team and help them succeed.
For employees, it meant identifying ways to improve productivity and output and work on building collective team effort. Then there was the concern of work from home burnout that had everyone on their toes.
But we have graduated from this space. Now organizations are looking at ways to accelerate innovation, productivity, and organizational outcomes while assessing ways to drive enablement at work and facilitate employee growth through learning and development initiatives that plug the gaps and drive growth. They are also focused on helping employees become more resilient to prevent WFH burnout.
The responsibility to identify the needs of the workforce primarily lay with the L&D in the traditional workplace. But with the forces of change accelerating continuously, addressing learning and development needs and personal development needs have to become more proactive than remain reactive.
Organizations need to address the development needs of employees proactively as it remains one of the major influencers of employee engagement. The millennial and generation Z value learning and growth opportunities as critical ‘perks’. As they are becoming the dominant demographic in the workplace, the focus on learning, development, and growth opportunities become direct contributors of retention and engagement.
Organizations have to be able to quickly recognize and address the learning and development needs of their managers and leaders as well and make sure that they are in a position to get the knowledge needed to drive the shifts in behaviors that influence the new workspace.
Being proactive in everything is the only way ahead to build resilience and success into the organizational DNA. As such, the work environment that exists now demands establishing the right processes and structures that help the employee take the drivers’ seat when it comes to their development needs.
How to deliver empowerment in a location-agnostic manner?
The Learning and development department’s role in the hybrid work environment veers more towards delivering empowerment and enablement at work, where work happens, irrespective of where their employees are.
The way ahead is to help employees build the right connections and identify the right resources that will help them progress ahead in their career path. But before that, they need to clearly identify what their learning needs are.
With no water cooler conversations to ignite minds, limited physical interactions with others in the organization, employees are holding the short end of the stick when it comes to recognizing what, where, and how they need to progress. Skills, especially, soft skills can be tricky to identify more so because human nature is biased.
Relying on guesswork or gut feel is hardly an effective solution. Instead, organizations should empower employees by helping them identify their development needs using data. Behavioral analysis tests, 16 Personality factor assessment provide clear data on where development efforts should focus.
This approach needs to be supplemented with a healthy and buzzing peer coaching network within the organization. With peer coaching, organizations can help employees maneuver their way in the hybrid workplace, close performance gaps, and achieve their professional goals. Additionally, peer coaching is the road ahead to drive thriving diversity and inclusion initiatives and ensure that these are not flaky and superficial.
Peer coaching outcomes though, have to be measurable. Thus, having a peer coaching platform that allows personalization, supports confidentiality, enables assessment-based learning, and provides feedback become crucial contributors to success.
Given the needs of the hybrid workplace, an AI-powered coaching platform can make employees more proactive in distinguishing learning and development opportunities by providing AI-powered timely nudges. Such a platform can also provide deep analytics to help organizations assess the efficacy of their peer coaching programs. Insights on skill and attrition dashboards and performance management analytics help organizations determine the success and areas of improvement of the program and coaching and take concrete steps to remediate any gaps.
By creating a peer coaching network, personal development in the hybrid workplace becomes more than an amorphous concept. It helps employees and leaders to transition into their roles more seamlessly and helps people work better, irrespective of where they are located. It becomes the bridge that connects the organization with the employee in more meaningful ways and fosters interactions that generate action and outcomes.
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