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Employee Learning, Recognition, Engagement and More with Colin Mendes, HR Head : Voltas Beko

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Give us an overview of workplace learning in India.

This crisis has accelerated digital transformation, forcing both organizations and individuals on the adoption curve, enabling deeper digitization than we could have ever imagined in the last 5 years. Digital is now the nucleus to everything, from connecting & collaborating with colleagues to learning and capability building.

Learnings methodologies have evolved from classroom to experiential to digital learning. In last 5 years, online learning has grown more than 12x. Today, workplace learning will continue to garner more buy-in as organisations are witnessing results. And this will lead to a shift to online learning, with greater flexibility, mobility and enhanced collaboration.  

But for this, digital learning will need to support business continuity, increase engagement remotely, boost productivity & build a learning organisation.

In essence, this pandemic which has accelerated business transformation & digital transformation will catalyse both an upskilling and reskilling revolution.

“Merits of flexibility, but digital learning also has a shortcoming – it distances the ability to collaborate effectively. So, the real challenge is to enable stronger collaboration and learning together & from each other.”

What are the metrics used to connect learning initiatives to productivity, specifically when looking at investments?

All methodologies of learning are built to enhance performance & productivity. We assess performance to evaluate where an individual stand vis-à-vis the role & agreed KPIs and also to focus on development to enhancing skills to take the organisation on its journey of growth. So, the agenda for learning must have a line of sight on the organisations long term strategy. Eventually, every learning interventions planned must translate into adoption, superior performance, enhance engagement & ROI.

What are some of the challenges in Workplace Learning?

Getting employees to spend time on learning has always been a challenge. There are couple of reasons for that. A lot has got to do with managers buy-in on the need and the employees willingness to learn & upskill.

Learning workshop which have been seen traditionally as an opportunity for recognition and recreation, need to be positioned as a business need and an individual desire. Managers would nominate employees for training session as a day off, or a reward for a job well done. There is little or no thought put into the relevance of said training for the employee. This approach needs to shift to make it more meaningful. So, between managers buy-in, employee willingness, and a conducive learning environment, lies opportunity to make it win-win.

What are some other ways to find success with workplace learning?

The first is to reiterate to managers the importance of building a sustainable organisation & an engaged workforce. Highlighting the longer-term objective is when their buy-in for workplace learning will set in.

Next, is to provide relevant content. Both the manager and the employee need to be convinced on the programs suitability. It should also be customisable to their needs – skills, frequency, flexibility etc. 

And the third, is to create an ecosystem to build advocacy and encourage peers that will generate interest and enable more sign up.

Today’s generation craves for attention & recognition. “A platform that showcases employees being recognized & rewarded will make them want to flaunt their achievements. This would generate curiosity thereby enhancing the community of learners”.

How do you personalise the learning experience?

There are two parts to this. First, of course, is through identified development needs from the manager & also through conversations to understand the employee’s aspiration. When we engage with managers, we also identify the interventions required from a behavioural and technical standpoint – like certain technical certifications that will aide the employees in their role. 

The second part to this is the format. Earlier, content was designed for classroom delivery. Now, this would need to be recalibrated to make it suitable for online and virtual learning.

What is your opinion on L&D budgets, especially with Covid and the business downturn?

Today, organisations are going through a huge cost pressure, there’s stress on supply chain, sales etc and hence L&D budgets will be controlled.

However, if we consider this from a long-term perspective, invest in technology-based L&D initiatives today presents a viable opportunity. With remote working, employees have zero travelling time which they can invest in learning. 

An interesting point is, once these learning habits set in, even when we return to our routine or rather the new hybrid routine, continuous learning will become an integral part in staying relevant. Covid is actually setting new habits for us to grow & inculcate over time.

Tell us about some learning initiatives at VoltasBeko that suit the needs of different cross sections of employees.  

At VoltasBeko, we adopt different methodologies & formats for different categories of employees. In the case of factories for assembly line operators a combination of practical (on the job), classroom + digital via VILT gives them opportunity to earn & learn. In the case of Sales & Service they require product knowledge & need to address technical issues, learning platform must have low bandwidth, easy to access over hand held devices and must be available to them in bite size form. In summary, a blend of content type, formats, compatibility works best.

How data savvy is HR in India?

Personally, I’m obsessed with data and analytics. But in a broader sense, proficiency of handling data in HR is unfortunately not a preferred area. However, today this trend is changing. HR managers are now using a lot of data points & focusing on lead & lag indicators to aide decision making.

There is a wealth of employee data available with HR & they can look at performance data, engagement scores, development needs, profiling & behavioural patterns of employees and co-relate it to enhance organisation’s effectiveness. These insights can be used to categorise & cluster teams to drive collective brilliance and propel organisation’s performance.

Some final thoughts on employee engagement, and employee experience?

Employee experience really starts much before an employee joins, pretty much at the time of interview. It’s the first experience that can create a lasting impression.

A reward & recognition program where employees are appreciated for excellence, achievement, behaviour & responsibility help build a performance orientation culture and contribute to overall employee engagement.

Finally, building talent beyond their job roles or work profiles. Providing employees a platform to showcase their talent, their lives outside of work can go a long way in developing loyalty, advocacy & engagement for the organisation.

“Pillars of workplace recognition – excellence, achievement, behaviour & responsibility. Driving recognition and appreciation across these pillars can deliver stronger engagement & workplace happiness”

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3 wishes for an HR Genie

  1. Awaken the sense of magic in each one of us

  2. Infinite memories & unlimited good times

  3. An aeroplane load of success & luck

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