A report by NASSCOM-Zinnov indicates that India will face a shortage of 1.4-1.9 million tech professionals by 2026. This has given rise to an important predicament – creating a future-proofing talent strategy. Every organization at all levels wants to ensure they are prepared for upcoming scenarios, whether talent trends, recession, or another pandemic.
Learning and Development (L&D) has become an inevitable function, just like any other in an organization. There is an industry-wide belief that L&D as a function doesn’t need to be carved out right from the inception of a GCoE. But the growing talent war and attrition rates keep proving that upskilling and reskilling are integral for any organization no matter its size and its age. A core part of this effort is in the hands of an L&D function, and the opportunities it can enable internally.
Learning and Development has evolved – today, companies don’t just want to imbibe skills, but also spread industry knowledge, keep teams up-to-date and aware of trends around the world.
Organizations tend to concentrate more on Technical training programs, without realizing the importance of soft skill enablement, and enhancing role based competencies. The vice versa is also true – sometimes teams are hired based on their technical skills while their project management skills can be improved on. The reality is, to create an ideal employee who is at their productive best, it’s important to have learning solutions around all competencies – Technical skills, Behavioral skills, Project Management skills, Process and Quality, Domain and Functional skills.
As GCoEs come with heavy investments in the first year, to create the new site to adhering to global goals, set up fresh HR policies, implement these, hiring its resources, GCoE leaders often feel L&D need not be the priority for year one. Another reason for the belief that L&D is unnecessary in the first year, is that often GCoEs hire only experienced or lateral professionals, making L&D moot. Organizations often feel that a separate function that invests specifically to train their staff is unnecessary, considering senior leadership was hired based on their skill set.
Contrary to popular belief, efficient hiring processes are not always the key to building successful teams. Once a team is hired, getting them role-ready becomes the next challenge. L&D is crucial here, to ensure that employees are up to speed with global center visions, and current trends.
Second, one of the key motivators for candidates to join a new GCoE is the ’availability of a learning ecosystem’. Employees have shown look at such an environment as a path towards career growth. A dedicated L&D department can foster this culture of learning, re-skilling, and inculcating an openness to lateral thinking.
Third, and more commonly believed, is that informal, social and experiential learning is enough. A formal L&D framework has no place, if learning happens organically. This is grossly untrue, because having a formal charter in place for L&D execution ensures that outcomes can be measured and that there are objectives and goals that are clearly articulated.
The cost of L&D implementation is another myth that prevents an organization from making the most of an L&D initiative. An L&D function need not always need a cozy classroom set up, dedicated soft skill trainers, exclusive online learning platforms, or a special cubicle. An L&D function can also be created with zero-minimal investment. Having an L&D charter in place is enough when a GCoE has hired its first set of people, to create a learning ecosystem.
Setting up an exclusive L&D function for an organization with multiple roles and requires a lot of time, is another common perception. This arises from the belief that R&D requires a diagnosis process, to understand a workforce’s learning requirement. This is untrue. The process can be easily simplified with a quick, two-three week assessment, which can culminate in setting up an L&D function in the first year.
Considering how dynamically tech stacks change, and the needs of an organization, talent that adapts to market trends is imperative. L&D can help solve for exactly this. Most roles in teams are unique – when a learning path is tied to an individual’s career, it always creates more room for an employee to take initiative.
Creating a learning culture takes time. The sooner it’s created, the better. Learning can start as an activity, becoming a culture of an organization over time.
According to a NASSCOM report on GCoE best practices, creating L&D programs in sync with global goals is a key lever to develop India as a skills export hub, and create cultures that adhere to a singular, unified company charter.
Like any other corporate, GCoEs also have a workforce that comprises multigenerational employees right from millennials to Gen-Zs, which also means roles ranging from employees with an average of 2 to 20 years of experience. New GCoEs tend to hire fresh graduates – to save talent cost and to bring in fresh mindsets. To cater to a multigenerational workforce, multi-modal learning avenues for L&D can create a common ground. For e.g. – an eBook may not resonate the same way with someone as well as a spoken session. Instructor led sessions, Small Private Online Courses, intentional and unintentional Social Learning, shadowing, video learnings – there are multiple mediums that can bring different results. Tailoring an L&D strategy to any enterprise is key to ensure everyone’s needs are met in a format that is easy to understand, grasp and retain. Sometimes, the most learning can even happen from an extremely unintended event or incident at work. A quick, 2-min morning email can be a powerful tool to bring about organization wide advocacy and culture sharing.
Incentivizing L&D programs can come with many benefits – Rewards and Recognition a great way to make employees want to learn. This comes with many benefits – when an employee publicly talks about learning that an organization enabled (say on LinkedIn) it can mean that the enterprise is truly invested in growing a person’s career, and their role trajectory. In turn, this contributes to brand image of an organization, increasing its Employee Value Proposition.
1) Impact becomes measurable when a policy is in place, and people look forward to sharing learnings. When learning initiatives are imbibed into the everyday workings of an organization, they feel less like a conscious effort, and more inherent to an organization’s culture. This should be a north star goal, for any enterprise.
2) Data and information are ubiquitous – we have access to multiple repositories of courses, surveys, research etc. But filtering those into exactly what an organization needs, considering its business objectives, long term plans, products, and roles, is where a customized approach to an L&D strategy comes in.
GCoEs often tend to focus more on business results and the skills that are required to yield direct revenue. But learning has always been more all-encompassing. An effective L&D strategy ensures that employee learning is driven around an intelligent mix of competencies that inches closer to the global enterprise’s goals, and not just a smaller geography. A crucial part of making L&D at the core of an enterprise’s philosophy, is the leadership’s support and belief in its value. If a leader is seen to talk about a new course they took, or a learning initiative that they support, a workforce is more likely to believe in the inherent value of upskilling, and what it can do for them as individuals.
In the GCoEs that Zinnov has set up, we have been able to maintain a retention rate of 89% as compared to the global GCoE average of 83%.
We have seen how crucial an L&D program can be for any GCoE – at a time when everyone is talking about hyperpersonalization of their talent strategy, a well-structured blended-multimodal L&D charter with self-learning initiatives can be the X factor. It not only becomes a big draw to hiring talent, but retaining it continually.