Investment in human capital has never been more pronounced: a Gartner study found that even during the unpredictable, turbulent 2020, 48% of S&P 500 companies funded at least one talent investment opportunity. As we continue to deal with uncertainty in the aftershock of COVID-19, organizations need a revamp of learning and development (L&D) initiatives to strengthen their workforce enough to withstand tough times. By giving employees access to new skilling programs while encouraging them to diversify skill sets, companies will inspire a resourceful talent pool.

This next generation of L&D includes a culture of continuous learning and empowers the existing talent pool with myriad opportunities for career growth. Learning is no longer just a measurement gauging factors like employee retention and engagement, but rather a core strategy intertwined with precise business goals—levering high-tech, data-backed decision making and more. How can corporations achieve this?

Learning as a Core Strategy

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed businesses to reassess employee retention and engagement strategy. Long-term plans rarely last in a changing market, so the overall focus should be on short-term plans with the flexibility to pivot and adapt to evolving market needs.

Learning must be established as a core strategy for businesses to find lasting success. A consistent feedback loop between the employees’ learning (skills acquired) and effectiveness of the programs must be set up to achieve competitive edge. The subsequent roadmap should foster stronger skill sets, along with effective working relationships, a supportive culture and a community of continuous learning.

Modern learning technology has opened the door to new, engaging methods of upskilling employees, including learning in the metaverse.

Modern Learning in the Metaverse

Many companies are making investments in the metaverse for onboarding, upskilling and collaboration.

In the metaverse, organizations can remotely onboard a new employee. They can provide them with an immersive experience of different facilities and take them on a full tour — virtually. In the digital office, the new employee can meet and greet their colleagues and interact with the team from anywhere.

Lifelike simulations created by modern learning experiences help people learn hands-on skills remotely, such as the soft skills required to collaborate with colleagues effectively in the metaverse environment. In this way, even skills that were once limited to in-person office collaboration can now be adapted and learned remotely to suit the new, modern learning needs. Moreover, the metaverse can make upskilling and reskilling fun by gamifying skills acquisition, incentivizing employees to learn more through exciting competitions and contests that they can participate in as a collective.

The Future of L&D

With the digital revolution, employees are seeking multi-dimensional growth. L&D’s focus has shifted from retention to building tech infrastructure — with goals to encourage organizational growth as well as talent engagement and retention.

L&D’s new approach requires:

1. Learning as an experience, not a transaction.

To get the most out of upskilling, learning models designed for employees should focus on experience. Employees have unique needs and skill sets to accommodate, and learning should feel like a positive growth opportunity and an engaging, personalized experience — not a transactional business function.

2. Adaptable, modern solutions designed for futuristic problems.

L&D should facilitate the modern work ecosystem by aligning its strategies with the needs of stakeholders. To ensure this, L&D plans should be updated regularly, leveraging cutting-edge tech to adapt to the changing times.

For example, TCS’s AI-powered microlearning platform provides employees with a unique learning experience by combining exploratory microlearning with an AI-driven guided journey, focusing on user-centricity suiting the needs of the individual learner. By targeting “microskills,” the integrated learning system encourages employees to take it one small step and skill at a time. This way, employees can take their new skills onto the job with confidence and self-reliance in their own time.

3. Data-backed strategic decisions.

L&D shouldn’t be managed arbitrarily, without much consideration for how to optimize and continuously improve upon the system for each employee. Ideally, strategic decisions should be backed by data analysis tied to both employee and organizational growth.

Data-backed strategic decisions support employees’ individual growth and benefit the collective by building a stronger, more dynamic workforce.

Organizations should leverage the technology best suited to their employees’ individual learning needs. In remembering to align modern L&D strategies with overall business goals, leaders can nurture a resilient culture of continuous learning, which will allow the business to adapt through times of change.