Our company provides a work-life balance! We build a ‘learning culture’ & do knowledge management. Here you grow with us! And, blah blah blah!
Ever since the production systems have moved beyond the Taylorism, learning, not skilling has come to the centre stage.
But here you go. Gen-Z digital generation finds your strait-jacket training programmes too boring. And you wonder that your training and skilling budget is consumed as a holiday package.
So, how do you create a learning ecosystem relevant to your organisation with a generation that loves to scroll the endless social media feeds and binge watching OTT series?
Of course! Irritated managers have an old weapon: fixing accountability. Put more monitoring. Use AI to measure training satisfaction using facial expression data. Build spreadsheets to do productivity maths, et cetera, et cetera!
This seems old fashioned and not so cool to the new generation of employees. Moreover, accountability infrastructure is costly. Managers often forget that where fails the accountability, comes the culture.
Also, there are many factors which managers miss. After your organisation has imparted work specific one time skill, knowledge demands continuous add on to learning. Each employee has a different learning need given different level of IQ or educational background.
Also, big organisations suffer from self imposed dogmas in training. Training schools often perpetuate the existing knowledge.
So, while following ‘one best way’ of work, they forget to discover ‘the new way’ of doing the work. And in that process, many organisations simply, Die! It is because someone else has discovered a totally different way of doing that work.
While following ‘one best way’ of doing the work, they forget to discover ‘the new way’ of doing the work.-TARUN
So, you were busy teaching spreadsheet, but someone learnt a new and simpler data analytics tool to do the same work in a fraction of time.
So, your employees were trained but were not learned. This is more particular to the knowledge workers. They need wisdom and not only the conventional knowledge.
Also, a very critical problem with organisations is that they underestimate the value of the shop floor. If the worker at the shop floor or at the cutting edge is shown the path to learning and its application, miracles can happen.
So, how to ignite the minds at the shop floor? How to move the spirits and souls of those key employees to your vision?
I think we need a shift from the existing model of: ‘Training of the workers, by the organisation and for the organisation’ to ‘Learning of the workers, by the workers and for the workers + organisation.’
So, it is a light touch model where the organisation acts only as a lighthouse but the ships have to navigate on their own.
But, what does it mean? What we are actually going to do?
Well! We will go for a ‘learning allowance‘. Here, we will allow an employee to claim reimbursement for a new certification course learnt which may also be relevant to the organisation be it in her current or future role. The ceiling per annum will be fixed. It will work something like entertainment allowance but won’t be entitlement based rather conditional on learning something meaningful.
This small change can spark a learning revolution in organisations. As a pilot, it should begin with administrative and managerial roles in organisation and expanded based on credible evidence.
Organisations can also use ‘nudge tools‘ like counting the completed learning courses for performance appraisals, giving such employees more opportunities et cetera. But it should be voluntary largely.
Besides, it will also help employees to better align their career goals with the organisational goals. Organisations like Indian institutes of management (IIMs) provide senior professors separate money to buy books to upgrade their learning and do the research.
Often, when pay slip is already thin for most employees in the present ultra competitive global talent markets, paying for a certified skill can be prohibitively expensive. Here, the learning allowance will protect your employees from falling into the ‘Learning poverty trap‘ where you can’t learn because you are poor and you stay poor because you could not learn what matters.
Organisations facilitating ‘Learning poverty trap’ for their employees will die sooner than later.
So, give ‘Learning allowance’ a thought. Of course! Modalities and details will be organisation specific but it is worth thinking to create a learning allowance in your organisation to stay learning rich and financially prosperous. Learning allowance will keep your organisation young!
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