As we move into the second month of the new year, it is an important time to take stock of the current climate and its implications for People, Culture and Learning professionals.
Here I outline what I believe are six of the most pertinent points to bear in mind for 2016:
- Anxiety levels will be UP (and so too will be mental ill-health issues)
Economic uncertainty and a requirement to achieve higher productivity levels is going to increase anxiety in the workplace. Make sure you have a good Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider and your management and staff understand the service. Management knowledge of how to manage behaviours related to mental ill-health will be important.
- People’s experience with eLearning must be improved
More people will be looking for quality eLearning interventions with the likelihood of tighter budgets and an emphasis on message consistency. Alas, many Australian workplaces don’t have a high regard for the method.
As Managing Director of World Learning Hub , I am fully aware of the mixed views professionals have about eLearning. Some content has been poorly conceived, learning methodologies are hum-drum and the performance of eLearning technologies often inconsistent. Our WLH annual training survey showed less than half were using eLearning as their key training methodology.
I am a great advocate of individuals receiving a blended approach to workplace learning whenever possible. That means combining the different forms of learning to achieve your individual learning outcomes. Our WLH survey shows that under 20% of organisations are using eLearning or blended learning as major learning strategies. An effective approach requires that L&D professionals need to take time in choosing their interventions. Especially in the eLearning field there has been a tendency to buy access to hundreds of modules without really knowing their quality or effectiveness. It’s a slightly lazy approach and may not necessarily achieve specific learning outcomes.
- Generation Y and Millennials adjusting work expectations
Let’s face it, most of the western world has been in recession or has been slowly coming out of it for some time. Australia has been somewhat saved from the pain by a mining boom. That boom is finished – over and out! I don’t see long term doom and gloom but I see a need for higher levels of productivity in new industries.
I’m personally unconvinced by the current official unemployment rate in Australia. First, all states but NSW have increasing unemployment rates. Second, research by Roy Morgan suggests rising under-employment.
My view is that employers will need more from less. Especially in the medium sized business sector, the margins are just not what they were. The demands of a generation of lifestyle driven employees may well be easing as available full time work in many sectors diminishes. The adjustment in expectations will definitely challenge some old boom time attitudes to working.
The answer is leadership. Managers will need to find ways to lead workers to a new frontier of more concentrated and productive output.
- Social Media and Work won’t always mix
I didn’t make ‘Responsible use of Social Media’ a priority at World Learning Hub for no reason. The misuse of company information and depictions workplace interactions remains high risk for all organisations.
A good social media policy and effective training is paramount to protecting an organisations reputation and culture. Don’t procrastinate with this one and remember, if you don’t train you haven’t implemented the policy.
- Racial and religious tolerance to be tested
So called ‘religious’ driven terrorism is making a loud noise, even though it is a relatively small group of people who perform such acts.
However, the noise creates fear, and fear often inspires potentially racist behaviour. Some Australians may be starting to question whether or not multiculturalism is a sustainable policy. The concept, like in many European countries, might give way to a far more assimilationist wave. In the light of this, 2016 could see tolerance levels tested, especially if terrorist groups are not brought under control.
This signals a good time to reinforce the workplace bullying, harassment and EEO policy.
- Time off the job hard to find
Productivity will be the mantra for many organisations in 2016. Face to face training programs and conferences will be harder to get to. Not because organisations are less interested in developing their knowledge pool, but because people just won’t have the spare time. Reliance on eLearning and Webinars is sure to increase for critical training areas. The traditionalists will be challenged and the percentage of organisations using eLearning as a key L&D strategy could ‘shoot through the ceiling’. That said, I will always advocate that face to face training is the most powerful tool building and changing work cultures.