By – Manmohan Malik

The unprecedented disruptions from a global pandemic, to economic uncertainty has left HR leaders and L& D heads over the past months in a state of impasse. While digital options have been unlocked in a frenzy, the leadership is feeling tested to adapt quickly and deliver business value by seeking tools that can accelerate resilience, uptake on the top themes that are needed to not just survive but also to thrive.

A successful organisation is known for the opportunities it creates and supports for its workforce to keep developing.  It targets changes in performance outcomes that help in a positive influence in a business’ future success. Internal coaching and mentoring with the objective to tap into the existing knowledge, skills, and experience of a senior employees and transferring of the same to high potential employees are the widespread genres which have caught up with a strong focus to optimize human capital potential.

However, COVID-19 has created an unprecedented global crisis in so many dimensions. As goes the known belief, Crisis accentuates innovation. Work From Home got accentuated during Covid and it demanded a more resilient workforce than ever before.

While on the business side, digital and secure journeys have become the key going forward; people on the other hand want dopamine. They need intrinsic motivation. And with remote working provides less of it, the challenges with organizations are forever increasing to provide a constant learning and engaging environment which was more easily possible during a driven physical interface. It has become increasingly clear that  L&D is going to have to become more creative than ever and think of more  ways than one to provide an engaging learning experience in a virtual environment. Effective managerial approaches linked to recognition and personal learning and development are also going to impact employee fulfillment and therefore need to be designed around those themes.

The key question remains. How do we engage people through learning in this situation? Assets like education, training, skills, health and safety  are all that employees value and hence organization are likely to be putting this agenda of the centre of table. Coaching Conversations around continuous learning, focus on the feedback through developmental discussions will create a foundation of providing a culture that will be more welcoming for employees.

Skills like optimism, resilience, patience, forgiveness, among others will need to be enhanced or built among the business and HR leaders to be able to manage all the people challenges they currently face effectively. HR leaders will need to don the hats of psychologists, connect with the limbic system of employees, express empathy, and focus on their well-being and design strategies that not only cater to the basic hygiene needs of the employees but are also satisfying their emotional and spiritual needs.

The challenge however could be how to trigger the learning bug in an employee? In other words, how to make one a continuous learner?  Also, should organizations majorly look for this personality trait while hiring?  Key questions like how have you unlearnt and relearnt in the past could become an interesting part of hiring inquiries, and Change management for the existing senior workforce could take center stage during the critical stages of transformation for the organization.

Embrace the ambiguity

With blurring lines between work and home time leading to overwork or frequent interruptions besides feelings of isolation, and for Organizations ensuring a transparent and performance oriented culture, collaboration between teams and employee wellness, it has become critical for employees to identify their own motivation and growth path.

They need to be encouraged to take ownership of their careers. They must stay connected, skill-up, network and stay positive. As much as possible they should find opportunities to engage with the leadership team with a driven intent and action plans of being onboard with the transformation process rather than staying on only as transactional people. Most importantly, they need to embrace the new paradigms and be comfortable with ambiguity.

Most importantly, they need to reinvent themselves rather than being made redundant .They need to realize this will also open up the choices for them between gig projects or freelancing since such a future is here already.

With the representative lines blurring, it would be prudent to provide unrestricted access to learn anything as learner wishes. In the current scenario, how do leaders engage people’s natural curiosity and their intrinsic desire for knowledge and skills is going to be key.

For learners, now is the best time to enhance learning. Whether human connect be better than online, are only metaphoric references now since the pandemic jolt has made learners more aware about their needs and given impetus on their focus.

End of the day, a learning program is as good as its ROI to the investing organization or the individual.  A lot will depend on how it is able to inculcate a strong learning ethos besides identifying key behaviors required to drive outcomes and the measurement of it.

All things said , what is clear is nothing ventured , nothing learnt.

Manmohan Malik

Chief HR Officer at ORIX Corp India, Leadership Coach and Author.