What Impact Has The Pandemic Had On Corporate Learning?
Industries worldwide are experiencing unprecedented change as digital transformation and new economic realities shake up the world of work. For sectors like financial services and technology, which rely on skilled employees, finding the right people is a growing challenge – and likely to become even more difficult in the future. To understand this challenge, we must explore pressing questions such as what impact has the pandemic had on corporate learning? What are the core skills gaps facing the financial industry? And how are financial services firms broadening their talent pools during these uncertain times?
In a recent Intuition webinar, Intuition spoke to Claire Tunley (Chief Executive of the Financial Services Skills Commission) and Tanuj Kapilashrami (Group Head of HR at Standard Chartered Bank) where these questions (and more) took center stage in what was an eye-opening discussion.
In this part of the Q&A, Tanuj and Claire discuss the impact the pandemic has had on the world of corporate learning.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t bring into this discussion the massive upheaval and disruption of the last six months and the pandemic. And I think that speaks directly to both of these things. It speaks to the huge uptake you’ve seen in your digital learning platform, which I’m sure is not unrelated to the pandemic, but also to the need for roles to become more adaptive for those staff to be able to very quickly learn new processes, learn new skills and redeploy internally on a dime and the role that learning and training can play in making that possible. Tanuj, do you have any Covid wisdom to share with us from your experience?
I always believe in every crisis there is an opportunity. I think a lot of organizations have used this time to really press ahead with their upskilling and reskilling agenda. For example, as Claire said, the running of these targeted experiments (earlier in the discussion, Claire spoke of how one of the big insurance companies is looking at automating custom processes around claims rather than recruit automation specialists from outside the business). We’ve had a few of these instances where we very quickly needed, for example, more collections agents. And what we could do was create a very clearly targeted virtual online twelve week program targeted to our operations teams or to our acquisitions teams. We were able to deploy them to do collections drills and track productivity and actually show that we’ve been able to maintain pretty high levels of productivity. The beauty with that is that you start generating very strong proof points into the organization. So this idea of this job is so specialized I have had to go to the market and play what I call a ‘price war’, which has been the traditional recruiting or resourcing strategy within financial services, has been disrupted. The fact we’ve been able to generate these proof points is very interesting. The other thing for me is this idea of an improvement habit. Doing learning any time, anywhere, for any top professional like me, where the idea of being signed up for one, two, three week training programs, many times in another country, that’s been disrupted as well – instead you can do bite-sized learning anytime. What we are doing today is such a great example, hopefully the attendees who are joining this for 30 minutes get a few soundbites, go back and explore their areas and if they wish to dig deeper, they dig deeper. I actually believe that the crisis has been a really good opportunity to be able to shift some of those mindsets. And actually, I don’t believe people will ever go back to fully learning in the way they did before. I do believe that’s been disrupted forever. I think those have been some of the opportunities. Time zones have been disrupted – I’ve been part of some great sessions on data being organized in different countries, which I would not have been able to do previously because of time zones, travel, etc.
“Rather than describing the current situation as a struggle for talent, I actually see it as a big opportunity”
Claire, have you seen similar?
Absolutely – I feel that we’re moving from the tactical response phase to the Covid into the more strategic ‘what does this mean long term and what are the good bits we can keep from this very unusual six months or so that we’ve been experiencing?‘ I think it’s opened everyone’s eyes to what’s possible. People have said to me ‘we’ve had three years of digital adoption in three weeks or three months – we didn’t think it was possible. What else can we do?‘ And learning is a huge part of that. All the firms that I speak to and the members of the commission are saying, ‘we’ve had to invest a lot in this digital capability just to get us to carry on being able to work and keep the lights on and provide our services to customers.’ Now we’re thinking ‘what does this mean? How can we shift things to an online learning environment?’ But people are cautious. They’re saying we do need to be careful that we don’t lose anything of the on-the-job learning and how we build in those experiential experiences within the learning offer, don’t just throw it all online. We also need to then, as Tanuj says, remember the business impact. How do we measure that? How do we see what the benefit of that is? I fully expect that there will be, and certainly the research is showing that there will be, an increase in investment in learning. But I think that will come with some very tough questions about the benefits for the business. It will have to be much, much more targeted and clearer about how it benefits the bottom line at the end of the day.
If you would like to read the rest of this Q&A, you can do so at the following links:
- Read Part 1: What Are The Core Skills Gaps Facing The Financial Industry?
- Read Part 3: How Are Financial Services Firms Broadening Their Talent Pools?
Alternatively, if you would like to access the webinar recording in full, you can watch the session here.