Managing Employee Learning and Development with Flexible Working

Managing employee learning and development with flexible working - header picture

The new way of work is transforming the management of employee learning and development and the future of many businesses. HR has been forced to rethink their roles within the organization and are constantly crafting new strategies to keep up with demands to improve the professional development and well-being of their workforce.

With some employers wishing for their workforce to return to the office, many concerns arise.

Most countries still have social distancing measures in place, meaning that it isn’t entirely possible for all teams to return to the office at once. The reality is that many teams have learned to work well remotely in the past few months and some will need to continue doing so for an unknown time.

Recently, HR developed guidelines on working remotely and they are now switching gears to developing guidelines for employees returning to the office with flexible schedules.

What kind of benefits does flexible working bring, how can employee learning and development remain a priority as organizations work remotely in rapidly evolving times, and what are some employee and employer concerns that HR should consider?

Craft learning and development strategies and communicate them openly

As consumer demands and trends are changing, workers know that priorities are shifting quickly for businesses. They also know this means their roles and jobs are evolving quickly in unforeseen ways, and they want to be prepared.

Now more than ever, employees are constantly seeking information and open communication from HR. Employees want to know what strategies are in place to keep the business going in times of uncertainty. They want to know how they can best align their professional learning and development to fit into the bigger picture of the company’s success while also satisfying their personal, human needs.

Employees need to know that open communication is still possible despite them no longer being in the office daily to communicate with their peers face-to-face or knock on the door of their favorite HR manager when they want to express a concern. Things are changing quickly and the plan you had in place a week ago may already be out the window with another strategy in place to tackle new and ongoing concerns.

Keep your communication open with your staff. Ensure your employees that aside from health and safety issues at the office being a top concern, learning and development strategies are still in place to keep them developing professionally.

help leaders develop their teams

Help leaders develop their teams

Good communication and leadership support have proven to be vital in times of a crisis. Team leads and HR will need to lead with empathy and understanding for individual situations each employee may be facing. Ensure your managers are well-equipped with the right soft skills to communicate effectively with their teams. Go through your content library and pull out some of your best lessons available to give managers a refresher on leading and communicating with their teams.

Managers should sit with their teams individually and ask about their concerns, find out which skills their team members wish to develop further (as some roles may require individuals to undergo new training), and develop a plan where learning is allowed to take place flexibly.

Ensure that your workforce is equipped with the proper technology to work and learn flexibly from a remote location and from the office. Some employees may not be as familiar with emerging technology as others and may fear they are not properly equipped to work with virtual learning and digital teams. With a plan in place, employees can feel more at ease knowing that they are less likely to fall behind any new demands for their roles which may suddenly arise.

Lead with soft skills

A study released by Quantam surveyed 470,000 employees in the first five months of 2020 and examined the impact of current economic and labor conditions on employee engagement. It found that employee engagement has increased by 11% this year, despite the crisis. Here are some of the results:

-88% of employees agreed that the frequency of communication from leaders was effective.
-9 out of 10 employees said they felt well-supported by their immediate manager during the crisis.
-83% of respondents surveyed believe that leaders of the organization value their employees as their most important resource.
-77% know where the organization stands and what they are doing to reach their goals.

These positive results point back to the effectiveness of open communication and leadership support – reinforcing that good soft skills are important for employee engagement and keeping teams together.

flexible working improves wellbeing

Flexible working improves well-being

Flexible working schedules have proven to be beneficial for both the employer and employees in many ways. And more flexible work options have also become necessary in recent months as working parents have been forced to homeschool or babysit their children due to school and daycare closures. During this time, organizations have reported higher levels of well-being, employee satisfaction and productivity.

Managing employee learning and development with empathy and open communication

Striking the right work-life balance will be essential for employees to re