4 Ways Social Learning Skilling Can Optimize Your L&D Initiatives


Skills that are lying just beyond organizations’ immediate needs are the tips of icebergs that could sink us in 2021 – if we’re not equipped with the right HR technology to navigate the waters and come out on top. Social learning skilling is one way to harness those skills, writes, Ken Parker, co-founder, and CEO of NextThought.

It’s certainly been a rough year, with lots of turbulence. But what do HR technology professionals need to focus on now? What needs to be addressed immediately, especially if we hope to come out of this not only alive but stronger than the competition?

We need to focus on the reality that skills that lie just beyond the horizon of our organization’s immediate needs are the tips of icebergs that could sink us in 2021 – unless we have the right HR technology to navigate the hazardous stretches ahead.

Organizations that want to thrive – or even survive – in the treacherous waters ahead will need to:

  • Confidently leverage changes in the unique market
  • Ensure teams can quickly pivot when they encounter new opportunities

A Call to Arms

Consider this takeaway from the World Economic Forum, when it launched its initiative, the Reskilling RevolutionOpens a new window :

“With 75 million jobs expected to be displaced due to automation and technological integration in the coming years, worries around unequal opportunity, large-scale unemployment, and widening income inequality are rising. The transformation will also create demand for an estimated 133 million new jobs with vast new opportunities for fulfilling people’s potential and aspirations.”

This should be our call to arms. We need to be prepared to support our organizations now so we can equip our people with three essential survival tools:

  • New skills
  • New, diverse perspectives
  • The curiosity and time to learn

How can we deliver them? Through a social learning platform for skilling, reskilling, and upskilling. Here’s what that means:

  • “Skilling” is the overall task ensuring employees can quickly acquire in-demand skills on the job.
  • “Reskilling” and “upskilling” are learning and development (L&D) terms for employees learning the necessary skills to reshape their existing jobs (reskilling) or obtaining new opportunities (upskilling).
  • “Social learning” is the result of creating a platform that absorbs many of the best features of a traditional learning environment, while incorporating the innovations of social networks, collaboration, and discussion that advanced technology offers.

Together, social and traditional learning will help organizations avoid the icebergs that lie ahead. What can we do to brace our learning systems now?

Learn More: Gaming the Learning Experience: 4 Powerful Elements of Gamification

Why Social Learning Skilling? 4 Big Reasons

Social learning accelerates skilling, which creates immediate impacts in four critical areas:

1. Social learning for skilling balances the impact of automation

The impact of automation was the overarching reason the World Economic Forum launched its Reskilling Revolution Platform: to provide better jobs, education, and skills to 1 billion people in the next 10 years.

Organizations need to do the same for employees. A social learning platform enables users to document and retain knowledge from the best performers as automation changes workflows. Subject matter experts, learning leaders, and stars can work together to create valuable training resources. An added bonus: smoother succession planning and career development, further boosting productivity.

2. Social learning for skilling increases talent availability

Research from Deloitte says 73% of employeesOpens a new window believe employers are the entity in society most responsible for workforce development – outranking the responsibility of workers themselves, educational institutions, governments, or professional associations and unions. Think about that for a moment. Then consider a recent Wall Street Journal conclusion about this finding: “In light of this expectation, there is growing scrutiny and societal pressure on organizations to address workers’ long-term employability.”

Baby boomers are aging, and the pandemic continues to disrupt the overall talent pool. Social learning can fill this void by connecting the dots between our employees, with highly specialized and compartmentalized skills with employees who have more general skills. Ultimately, we leverage this overlap because knowledge work requires multifaceted skills, like creativity, collaboration, and project management.

Maybe our specialized, advanced practitioners who are highly creative can learn more skills like project management. Meantime, our project managers and engineers could adopt a few creative skills to embed themselves further into the value chain.

3. Social learning for skilling mobilizes an agile workforce

A recent Aon report, Accelerate YourOpens a new window WorkforcOpens a new window Opens a new window t=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>e Into the FutureOpens a new window , says that this August, a whopping 85% of HR leaders said workforce agility was very or extremely important to their organization’s future success. “If you treat everyone as a valuable asset (while recognizing that some will be more productive or have a higher impact),” the report said, “suddenly the pool of potential widens greatly.”

Social learning can open up sources of information to anyone on the platform. It can also better prepare us to be agile and resilient amid the changing world of work.

With the right social learning platform, everyone’s empowered to make valuable contributions and connections across disparate domains of knowledge. We’re removing the gatekeepers of knowledge to instead increase the speed and agility of workers.

If we deploy tools for quick course creation that social learning is known for, we can further accelerate dissemination of that diverse knowledge. In addition, anyone can contribute information that benefits others, even leading to new and helpful courses for the entire organization.

Learn More: Bet on Blockchain to Revolutionize HR: 4 Ways It Will Improve the Value of L&D

4. Social learning for skilling unites all generations

We have entered the collaboration revolution at the same time we have the most demographically diverse workforce in modern history. LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2020Opens a new window says 89% of talent professionals surveyed said a truly multigenerational workforce makes a company more successful. “No matter how you’re defining the generations,” the report said, “their differences tend to be overstated and their similarities underplayed. Nonetheless, understanding where and how they do vary can help you build a team that successfully leverages the skill sets, perspectives, and experiences of workers across the age spectrum.”

Meanwhile, Johnson Controls’ Collaboration in 2020 SurveyOpens a new window found that 51% of executives feel performance is linked to collaboration at the strategic and operational levels. The report went on to say that over 60% of executives agree or strongly agree that collaboration is an important driver in the areas of employee effectiveness, efficiency, creativity and innovation, and operational performance.

Social learning can play a huge role in helping our organizations unite generations and enhance collaboration by linking their myriad experiences and skill sets. More experienced generations, for example, have wisdom and expertise for managing workloads and customer concerns, as well as career advice and expansive networks inside and outside our organizations. Younger workers, meanwhile, have digital fluency and innovative ideas, and the time and energy to think outside the box, be proactive, and take on new challenges. Social learning pulls these attributes together with integrations, comments, multimedia, and multichannel functionality, so everyone can learn quickly.

With integrations like Google Docs and Microsoft Office or GoToMeeting and Zoom, people can find colleagues who have particular skill sets, special interests, or insight into customers or products. You can also offer course content on devices or media channels that best suit each learner.

The Future’s Greatest Hidden Risks Demand Skilling – and Skilling Demands Social Learning

As HR technology professionals, we need to help our workforces equip themselves with the necessary new survival skills for the waters ahead. We believe social learning is a powerful way to do that. We need a learning platform uniquely built to create accessible learning for all employees and administrators, so we can achieve our current goals, embrace reskilling, avoid the icebergs ahead, and sail to new lands of success.

How do you think social learning skilling can optimize your L&D initiatives? Tell us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window .