Upskilling the Resilient and Flexible Workforce

Organizations large and small have had to make the difficult decision last year to reduce their physical footprints and then pivot to a mostly remote work model, due to the major issues and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees to include executives, supervisors, and staff of those organizations, thrust onto a  remote and flexible work model, found out that they needed to engage with their constituencies and stakeholders (customers, students, vendors/partners, colleagues, and friends) in new ways and via alternative means.

While  many high-skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable professionals made the leap to the new work model and its around-the-clock tempo, others have struggled to keep pace. Consequently there is a dire need for companies to upskill and reskill their staff to help them transition more efficiently and effectively to the post COVID-19 work model. Traditional education providers such as higher education institutions and private learning companies offer continuing education courses and programs that are focused on helping working professionals gain the skills and competencies to be more productive, successful, agile, and flexible. However, the cost and delivery requirements of those offerings are often major hurdles for adult learners and professionals who must now work from home, while having to juggle competing tasks and duties.  Thus, we need to ask how adaptive and transformative organizations can best help their staff succeed in their roles at work and adapt as needed to the ever-changing demands of the marketplace.

Woman listening online training on tablet
A Resilient and Flexible Worker

Implication for Practice:  

Knowles (1980) argued that the adult learners  or working professionals are self-directed, internally motivated, and endowed with a wealth of life experience and knowledge. Therefore, institutions seeking to address the needs of those learners need to utilize instructional models and approaches that support skills improvement over simple enhancement of general knowledge. Below are three transformative and pedagogically-grounded learning approaches that institutions can use internally to help working professionals gain the skills needed to keep pace and succeed in the post COVID-19 world.

  1. Utilize Experiential Learning. Rooted in Kolb’s (1984) model, experiential learning incorporates reflection along with practice-oriented activities. Given that adult learners (i.e., working professionals) yearn to connect new knowledge with their backgrounds, capabilities, and interests, it is critical to offer them the means to both leverage and strengthen their skills, competencies, and career orientations. Therefore, training activities must connect to the day-to-day world of working professionals to ensure that they are fully engaged, involved, and invested in the learning experience.
  2. Employ Adaptive Learning And Asynchronous Delivery. Adaptive learning refers to instruction that is tailored to learners’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. With recent advances in Extended Reality, working professionals can be presented with learning experiences using asynchronous delivery modalities so that they have a sandbox to try out new things on their own time at their own pace. Further, use of advanced and learner-centered educational tools provides a means to offer scaffolding, mentoring, and immediate feedback. Artificial Intelligence can also be used to alert the institution when human intervention is necessary in the training experience. This provides the opportunity to perfectly leverage the strengths of technology and human instructors to improve learning outcomes.
  3. Focus on Collaboration and Teamwork. The lack of social interaction is a significant drawback to the remote work/learning paradigm. Agile organizations need to help their employees maintain connections and connectivity so they can both increase and strengthen their social capital. Staff thus must be placed in learning environments where they can share, compare, and analyze business issues and problems with their colleagues. A collaborative orientation and posture in education allows participants to reflect on and then integrate a rich diversity of perspectives and viewpoints when making decisions, thus leading to the development of new ideas, techniques, and approaches that will  benefit their organizations.

Transformative changes in organizations with complex administrative systems, unique cultures, and a well-defined ethos,  as noted in this article, requires a substantial push and sustained effort throughout the entire enterprise. Institutions wishing to reposition themselves for the post-COVID marketplace will need to help their staff gain the skills needed for their day-to-day work, career interests, and future plans within the organization.

We, at Brightspokes Learning, know that technology is not always the answer in human development or process improvement endeavors. So, we always take a holistic view of ALL of our learning or training activities. Our first task is to ensure that our interventions will have a positive ROI. We also strive to help our partners gain the most out of their investments in all relevant areas. We do this through a laser focus attention on delivering results that will improve the bottom line and support our partners’ mission, culture, and plans for the future.

Contact us to find out how we can help you “Soar Higher” now and in the future!

Author: Christa Guilbaud, Ed.D :: Email Me

Follow the links below to learn more on the subject:

1. Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Cambridge Adult Education.
2. Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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