Training Leaders of 2020: Kristy Bloxham on Getting Ready for the Future of Work

In the business world, where a workforce with up-to-the-minute skills is the ultimate future-proof strategy, there is an extremely high need for effective L&D programs. Even though the L&D market is full of tools with hundreds of learning types, including microlearning, video-based learning, social learning, etc., lagging productivity and low engagement are still of immediate concern.  

We reached out to Kristy Bloxham, associate professor and L&D thought leader, to discuss how training leaders can reinvent their talent development strategy and support the growing need for upskilling and optimizing performance management to get ready for the future of work. With her extensive talent development experience both in corporate training and education, Kristy has a deep understanding of how to build successful businesses through empowering every team member.

Two success factors for embracing talent development 4.0

While the future remains unknown, the best way to get ready for the upcoming changes and new business realities remains the same – building a scalable and flexible talent development infrastructure. Kristy highlights two components that serve as a foundation for effective workforce training and performance improvement.

  • Training leaders have to know what kind of data to use to drive L&D initiatives.

Kristy says that for L&D leaders, discovering new ways to drive training effectiveness based on data and finding better ways to evaluate training based on data will be essential. To boost training ROI, the training that training leaders produce needs to solve specific problems that contribute to the bottom line and overall company goals. And when training is aligned with business goals that are measurable, training leaders can clearly see IN WHAT WAYS and HOW MUCH training impacts every single business KPI. In such a way, L&D is taking more of a strategic role in a company. 

  • Training leaders have to use the right tools for their business operations.

Training ROI highly depends on the level of user engagement. In turn, engagement comes from the relevance of training and its availability at the point of need. Data-driven learning systems are great at analyzing tons of selected data to create value for every learner. But how does this value manifest itself? Kristy gives a list of must-have features for a smart learning system.  

  1. A learning system should have an intuitive interface. 
  2. It needs to handle all types of content. 
  3. It has to be not only mobile compatible but mobile preferred. 
  4. The system should be integrated into the learners’ everyday processes, making training easily accessible anywhere, anytime, and anyway.
  5. It should deliver personalized experience relevant to every user’s current knowledge and goals through individually targeted learning. 

By taking into account these two factors, L&D leaders will be able to create a talent development strategy that meets the demands of tomorrow.

The building blocks of distributed workforce success

When it comes to talent development in companies with large distributed workforces, Kristy mentions the essential success factors: on-demand support and targeted communities. These two building blocks are key to ensuring that every distributed team member feels part of a company and knows that they won’t be alone if any performance issues come their way.

  • On-demand support 

For companies, it can be hard to ensure that their ‘onsite workforce’ possesses all the skills necessary for business success, let alone those who are located miles away. The half-life of skills is shrinking, traditional training programs fail to keep up with the pace of change, so how can they deliver on-demand support?

One sure thing companies can do to future-proof themselves is delivering just-in-time targeted training to every individual built into their daily work routine. Since the work environment is volatile and the business world keeps changing, the role of training leaders becomes even more strategic in ensuring on-time workforce upskilling and reskilling for continuous business growth.  

You really have to understand what actions a workforce member needs to accomplish to be successful and create training that drives those actions. My bet is we will see skills-based, industry-relevant training continue to take the lead.

We can’t predict what future jobs will look like, but we can gradually build relevant skills that come with changes in the business world. Such gradual future-focused upskilling should be incorporated in a system that delivers training in the simplest and most intuitive way just-in-time.

  • Targeted communities

Communities are a great way to power up on-demand support for distributed workforces. By bringing distributed team members into role-, geography-, department-specific groups (or any other relevant to a business operations segmentation), companies can create targeted communities to drive granular and specific upskilling initiatives.Having access to a tight-knit community can give them [workers] timely answers to questions in a non-threatening and collaborative way,” explains Kristy.

“Communities are also great places for distributed members to receive feedback and recognition,” she points out. “If there are smaller communities within larger distributed workforces it can give early career members the opportunity to be recognized for smaller accomplishments and motivate them to keep going.” 

The Future of Work: The top three predictions for 2030 

  1. We will see a significant rise in skill-based certificate programs being accepted within the job market. Kristy says that the ‘skills over schools’ approach will be even more welcomed by certain industries (mainly tech) in the future to compensate for the ‘lagging’ educational background. 

“We saw the first nail in the coffin of higher ed when large, trend-setting companies such as Google, Apple, and IBM no longer require a college degree to get a job with them. This trending policy now opens the door for other organizations to come in and do a better job with upskilling and reskilling their workforces,” she sums up. 

  1. eLearning will overtake traditional forms of learning. For education and businesses, it will become a preferred choice, since eLearning opens opportunities for better learner engagement, individualized learning paths, data-driven choices, expert knowledge sharing within collaborative learning communities, and much more. And of course, a much higher rate of cost savings.
  2. I think we will see the widespread use of apprenticeship and journeyman programs that give workforces on-the-job training in return for them staying at their job for a predetermined amount of time. This talent development strategy will get a lot of traction in companies around the world due to the lack of the right talent caused by the emergence of the yet unknown job roles and responsibilities. 

Interested in upskilling and reskilling your workforces? Ask us for a demo to get ready for the Future of Work with a smart, data-driven learning system!