Hybrid work arrangements lead to L&D innovation

New technologies help employers support employees in learning and development

Hybrid work arrangements lead to L&D innovation
Sinéad Keenan, chief innovation officer and head of EZRA Labs, EZRA

The pandemic created new challenges and opportunities for employers and employees due to disruptions in how people and organizations work and how they learn and develop the skills they need.

During the pandemic, people worked from home and both employers and employees needed to adapt to new hybrid work arrangements that have since become the norm for many.

These new working arrangements created sudden and sweeping changes to learning delivery, stemming from the shift to remote working and restrictions around in-person face-to-face learning, says the ‘Learning And Skills At Work Survey 2021’ by CIPD and Accenture. 

However, for some organizations and their learning teams, the crisis proved to be an opportunity to refresh their alignment with organizational needs, to examine the enablers of collaboration and learning in their organizations, to embrace digital technology, and to support employee reskilling and redeployment at a time of ongoing workforce disruption.

Learning and development (L&D) is a key strategy for employers to keep employees engaged and create a better work experience. Coaching is one way to support employees to help them learn and grow both in the work role and for personal goals.

Retention goes up

“A lot of organizations use coaching as a retention tool,” says Sinéad Keenan, chief innovation officer and head of EZRA Labs at EZRA. She says retention typically goes up as a result of utilizing coaching techniques.

“A big client of ours in the US, a bank that has been using coaching to support its emerging talent leaders, is seeing a contrast between the group who have coaching and the groups who don't have coaching. There is a much higher retention rate of that desired talent in the group who have coaching – roughly a 20% increase – which is actually quite significant.”

Unfortunately, as employees are asked to do more and adapt as the way they work continues to change, the support required to help them succeed is lagging far behind, says a report from EZRA. The ‘The five factors: Building one-to-one development at scale’ report says that during this age of distraction, employees barely have 1% of their week to dedicate to development. On top of that, only 23% of managers and employees say they feel engaged at work.

EZRA’s report says this is because poor manager-employee relationships hinder performance and well-being while a lack of development opportunities leave employees hungry for growth and more likely to seek greener pastures. In fact, 64% of employees report they are considering leaving their employer within a year due to lack of development opportunities. As a result, 80% of individual contributors within a company, along with their managers, become a drain on organizational performance and productivity. Unfortunately, when they are not satisfied at work, they leave.  

Keenan says, from an organizational perspective, coaching is clear way in which employers can start to demonstrate return an investment because they don't have to rehire these people. “We don't have to bring in extra HR recruiting costs if we can retain this this talent.”

Increase employee engagement

Additionally, coaching helps increase employee engagement. “There is a link between engagement as a predictor for individual performance and financial performance within an organization.”

EZRA, a global virtual coaching and learning provider, recently launched Focus by EZRA, an L&D platform that delivers short, sharp, one-to-one development sessions with measured outcomes that can be deployed globally at scale. The platform is built on behaviour change methodology and combines individualized development with behavioural nudges bolstered by an AI-powered assistant to support employees and managers.

"We know that effective learning and meaningful change happens when individuals are focused on what matters to them," says Keenan. “With Focus, we've leveraged the proven science behind established behaviour change models to develop a platform that empowers organizations and their people with progress they can see, feel, and measure through one-to-one sessions.

“At its heart, Focus is based on a specific focused moment, such as a targeted skill or behaviour that someone wants to develop. It might be having powerful performance conversations with your team, getting promoted to the next level, or navigating change. Users have one-to-one sessions with a professional coach and then the platform provides ‘behavioural nudges’ between the sessions. It also provides pre and post measurements which allow the employer to look at engagement, ROI, and other insights.”

L&D continues to be a priority for organizations to address skill gaps, develop managers and leaders, and increase engagement and productivity. The pandemic placed pressure on learning investment and resources and also challenged companies to embrace new ways of delivering L&D with high impact for the digital age. Organizations are investing in and innovating with L&D technologies, seeking greater alignment between learning and need, and increasingly looking to demonstrate value.