Learning experience platform? (LXP), learning together at your own pace
Talent attraction, employee retention and lifelong learning. How can you tackle these successfully? By implementing an online learning environment that provides all development opportunities in one place, makes learning more accessible, and helps people become more engaged.
Eric Bos is the regional Vice President of Sales at Degreed, an upskilling platform that connects learning and internal mobility opportunities. He recently talked about talent development with Bartosz Zieleznik, Head of Digital Learning at Prosus Group, whose team provides 30,000 learners globally with unlimited access to numerous global learning providers.
Bos: What is the learning culture of Prosus Group?
Zieleznik: We are a global internet investment company. We are dedicated to helping our people be their best by enabling a culture built on diversity, inclusion, and learning. This is reflected in our DNA and how we run our in-house initiatives. Our philosophy is about investing. You can invest in money and time or you can build things and make them available.
What we aspire to do on the learning team is to deliver a learning solution that is an investment in our employees' future. By serving them relevant content and enabling new ways of thinking and approaching problems, we help them grow and access the sort of content they wouldn’t be able to retrieve otherwise.
Bos: What are the business challenges you try to resolve with your learning development?
Zieleznik: It’s an increasingly more complex world in terms of how business translates into learning. There is a strong correlation between employee engagement and access to learning opportunities. We see it as a major driver of not only engagement, but also happiness and people looking forward to their career growth. It brings clarity to the table — who you can become in the organisation you're working for.
It's a massive shift. Traditionally in the field of HR, we see learning as a sort of benefit, something that may influence our employee retention. We were never really forward-looking concerning learning. Now we are able to look up to four years ahead into a career. There is tremendous business value added in that knowledge, and the ability to serve people with bits of learning that are relevant.
Secondly, it’s different because we operate globally, which makes it easy to fall into the European trap. At this moment, there are no secrets in the war for talent. In developing countries, it's not that easy. Learning and learning opportunities are a big deal for employees nowadays, which leads to massive challenges in retention.
Thirdly, over the years, we’ve been fighting in L&D for metrics such as adoption, consumption and completion. However, now we need to ask whether the program is actually adding value to people’s careers, and that’s hard to measure. Instead of looking at individual KPIs, we need to start digging deeper and see if we can notice any patterns. Looking at individual stories and some recent hot fields such as AI, we can notice something remarkable. It definitely is possible to go from zero to hero without completing a five-year university degree, but rather navigating by means of having a couple of simple projects under your belt and then looking for some online courses. Even in quite an advanced field.
The biggest challenge? How to capture this? Degreed product features enable you to capture those turning points and build a logical narrative around them. But most importantly, it allows you to predict the next steps. I like to call it “aspirational learning.” Following the global trends at the platform or seeing internal job ads, people can actually progressively educate themselves in that direction.
To be clear, it is not just something you can create out of thin air. You need systems that support the three aspects of learning: talent attraction, talent retention and, finally, aspirational learning.
Bos: If you want to develop yourself in the AI field, it’s not about going to university for five years but learning in the flow of work. What is your perception of skills and the future of skills?
Zieleznik: Skills are the new currency of learning and development in a world where we stop being so attached to completions and certificates.
On the other hand, skills cannot be defined in only one way. So we need to start understanding other people's perceptions of what a certain skill level is about. This encourages you to have deep conversations with your manager, and it creates a common language on which you can base your upskilling initiatives.
Besides, skills can be self-measured. It’s always about forming your own definition of what success looks like. I sometimes wonder how accurate that is. A good solution is to ask your managers or peers to give feedback. This could lead to awesome conversations and could give you insights that used to be reserved for a very expensive coach that you had to hire. Now, thanks to the platform Skill Coach, you can do these things at scale, whenever you please.
Bos: One of the things you mentioned is the fact that managers can now really utilise the platform to have meaningful conversations with their team members. How does that work?
Zieleznik: It starts with digitalisation. In one of the keynotes I delivered recently, I made a bold statement that arguably 50% of the energy of an L&D team should actually go into energising managers and getting them on your side. The reason? Learning is an investment into a business.
It’s very easy to convince the top management or the C-level folks. They understand the business case instantly. They understand how fast technology is changing. Individual learners are also quickly won over once they understand how convenient it becomes to build and sustain a learning habit. Addressing the “frozen middle” is the hard part. Middle managers are the people that need to carry the high-level-, organisational-, vision-driven statement and translate it into a specific culture for every team. In this case, Skill Coach is a powerful platform because it provides useful insights into what’s happening in each team. The online tool makes it possible to respond to the different needs of the members of your team.
It’s time to stop thinking about managers as your learning audience but rather treat them as partners. This all starts with simple digitalisation.
Bos: How do you make it attractive for brands to use these tools?
Zieleznik: It’s a challenge. You can’t just drop a tool in every company or team. A customised approach is needed.
The functionalities that we use to make this happen are, first of all, administrative groups. They are accurate for certain hidden groups that help us map and understand the territory. We also utilise plans and directories to bundle together all the content that’s relevant for a given company. We extend our service to help them build a consistent design and develop their own content and upload it on the platform. Once they launch our L&D solution MyAcademy, they actually have a space from where they can start building groups, enroll in live events and so on. In this way, we make sure that people are not exposed to things that are not relevant to them.
In a nutshell, we build a space where everyone can study together, but each individual has a separate classroom with the right information as if it comes from their own organisation.
Bos: You went through the whole process. If I were an L&D leader, what advice would you give me when I’m looking for an LXP?
Zieleznik: First of all, many companies are still considering whether to have an LXP. It is useful to turn this question upside down: Why do you need an LXP?
There are too many systems out there in which there's tons of brilliant content that has no way to reach the end user. So an LXP has to be quick, responsive and top notch. We know Degreed delivers that. It’s a world-class platform.
In addition, every platform needs to have an algorithm that understands what is next for a specific person. And finally, a system like that needs to come with a backbone. I already mentioned that skills are tremendously important. All of that robust learning data helps learners navigate their careers. Switching their focus skills can change the whole platform in only a couple of minutes. The platform responsiveness to the changing of people's lives in the organisation is more important than ever.
To end, I would like to give a short piece of advice to everyone in HR. Especially in life after COVID, we — the HR folks — need to take our own medicine and update our own skills. Most importantly, we should all engage in online learning as much as we can.
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