HRM Asia Magazine February/March 2021 Issue

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enters a new era of learning and employee engagement

MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES As the nature of work itself continues to change, the need will intensify for organizations to offer employees a wide variety of learning opportunities to quickly upskill and reskill your team. Your LMS should be agile, and capable of supporting your learning needs as the organization evolves. This is a big decision and one we know you can’t take lightly. That’s why we’ve outlined the six steps our most satisfied customers take when evaluating the best match for their business.









Joanna Bush


s we usher in the Year of the Ox in the Lunar New Year, it is hoped that the vitality and drive epitomised by the ox will bring about prosperity, business success and career advancement in 2021. For many organisations, their business continuity plans for 2021 are beginning to take shape as strategies, systems and processes are being restructured in a vastly changed world of work. And as many organisations are finding out, employee engagement and development are becoming increasingly important, with reskilling and upskilling through continuous learning becoming almost a mandatory requirement. In this issue, we spoke with Dani Johnson, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst; and Heather Gilmartin Adams, Senior Analyst at RedThread Research, as they pondered a new era of learning and employee development as the role of learning and development (L&D) continues to be redefined.


L&D’s role is to enable the agility and responsiveness that organisations will need to succeed in ever-evolving environments, highlight Johnson and Adams, who will be jointly presenting the keynote session on March 23 at Learning Technologies Asia 2021. Organised by HRM Asia, Learning Technologies Asia 2021, an all-virtual event, will take place from March 23-24, and will also include thought leaders

such as Aek Ussivakul, Senior Vice-President, Learning Platform and Data, Siam Commercial Bank; Ajay Sridharan, Vice-President, India/ South East Asia & Middle East, Degreed; Vinisha Jayaswal, Chief Learning Officer, Apollo Hospital Enterprise India; Dr Samson Tan, Head, Centre for Innovation in Learning, National Institute of Education, Singapore; Dr CJ Meadows, Professor of Design Thinking, SP Jain School of Biz; and Roby Tatan, Head of L&D, Sinar Mas Land, Indonesia, as they discuss how L&D has become the focal point for HR leaders to drive organisational growth. Join over 1,500 of Asia’s senior L&D professionals, business and HR leaders as they share workplace learning experiences and how they are developing their learning strategies to stay ahead, innovate and grow in 2021. Learning Technologies Asia also marks the start of HRM Asia’s HR Leadership Series, which will take place over the coming weeks. While a much changed world of world will continue to reshape the way we work, HRM Asia’s HR Leadership Series are designed to guide you through all the challenges and opportunities as you navigate through 2021. Meanwhile, HRM Asia will continue to be your trusted source of information and market-leading content for HR across Asia, we wish you a very prosperous and successful Year of the Ox!

SHAWN LIEW, Senior Journalist, HRM Asia

HRM Asia Pte Ltd 109 North Bridge Road, #05-21 Singapore, 179097 Email: ©HRM Asia Pte Ltd, 2021. All rights reserved. Republication permitted only with the approval of the Publisher.

CONTACT US: Read something you like? Or something you don’t? Perhaps there’s some insight we haven’t considered? Have your say on HRM Asia’s news, features, and contributions by emailing: Shawn Liew

MCI(P) 028/07/2017 ISSN 0219-6883

Senior Journalist









Dani Johnson, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst; and Heather Gilmartin Adams, Senior Analyst, RedThread Research, highlights how the role of L&D is being redefined in a new era of learning and employee development. They also highlighted some of the key skills organisations need to identify as they prepare for the future of work.



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#BetterMe by AXA is a holistic employee benefits programme t hat is designed to help organisations construct more resilient workforces. It provides flexible top-up plans, dedicated service and engagement and digital convenience, among other features. FEBRUARY-MARCH 2021

WANT TO GET CONNECTED? Get in touch with us here




Taking place from March 23-24, Learning Technologies Asia 2021 will examine how organisations can develop their learning strategies to stay ahead, innovate and grow in a new world of work.


Rosie Cairnes, Regional Vice-President, Skillsoft Asia Pacific, provides some tips on how organisations can more effectively engage their people in an uncertain environment.



Rhys Hughes, Regional Vice-President, Sumtotal, explains why organisations need to build an adaptable workforce and make employees their ‘superpowers’.


Ajay Sridharan, Vice-President, India/South East Asia & Middle East, highlights the importance of upskilling the workforce and how organisations can help support the upskilling needs of their employees.



Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy, explains why employee surveys are more valuable and important now than ever before.



Author and global thought leader Rachele Forcardi details why generational diversity and inclusion is quickly becoming the hottest item on the agendas of CEOs and CHROs.



Digital transformation coach Abhijit Bhaduri describes the shifts that are impacting learning in 2021 and what L&D leaders should focus on.

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EMPLOYERS IN SINGAPORE URGED TO ADOPT HYBRID WORKING ARRANGEMENTS SINGAPORE’S EDUCATION MINISTER, and COVID-19 taskforce co-chair Lawrence Wong has described a total work-from-home (WFH) arrangement as “not doable” While Singapore is retaining a high degree of WFH because of the pandemic, Wong said there is a need for employees to have some physical presence and face-to-face meetings in the future. He also urged employers in Singapore to adopt more flexible, hybrid working arrangements even as the country continues to step up its COVID-19 vaccination drive.


JAPAN REVISES PATERNITY LEAVE THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT has drafted a law revision to the country’s regulation on paternity leave to encourage more men to take leave for the birth of their child. Under the revised draft, male employees would be able to take four weeks of leave within eight weeks from the birth of their child. The revised bill by the government would require companies to have their employees informed about the measures. Large corporations will also have to publicise how many of their staff take paternity leave.


NEW ZEALAND’S UNION CALLS FOR SICK LEAVE FOR NEW EMPLOYEES NEW ZEALAND’S COUNCIL of Trade Unions (CTU) is pushing for the removal of the rule that workers must be employed for six months before getting sick leave. CTU secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges said employees need to be able to access sick leave no matter how long they have been working on the job. In addition, CTU has proposed to increase the number of sick leave entitlements from the current five days to 10 days to the Education and Workforce committee.





TAIWAN PROTECTS WORKING RIGHTS OF MIDDLE-AGED AND SENIOR WORKERS TAIWAN’S EXECUTIVE YUAN has passed a new Act to address the challenges of an ageing population and potential future labour shortages. The dedicated law seeks to protect the working rights of two groups – the middle-aged (45 to 65 years old) and the seniors (over 65 years old), covering both citizens and qualified foreigners. With the new Act, employers are not allowed to show differential treatment against employees or job seekers on the basis of age unless there is an applicable legal exception.


MALAYSIA WANTS TO AVOID STRICT LOCKDOWN OVER 900,000 SMES will be severely impacted should Malaysia choose to re-introduce a strict lockdown, said the country’s finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz. Citing how more than 70% of Malaysia’s SMEs posted losses in 2020 after the first movement control order (MCO) was implemented, Tengku Zafrul said small and micro-businesses run by food stall owners, tailors, barbers and launderette operators, particularly, will be adversely impacted. SMEs contributed nearly 40% to Malaysia’s GDP, forming the backbone of the country’s economy.


HONG KONG’S MINIMUM WAGE REMAINS CONSTANT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A DECADE HONG KONG’S MINIMUM WAGE will be kept at HK$37.50 (US$4.84) an hour, its government announced as the city battles economic uncertainty amid the pandemic. This marks the first time the minimum wage has remained unchanged since it was introduced in 2011. Explaining the decision, Secretary for Labour Law Chi-kwong, said, “The commission has considered that Hong Kong’s economy is in a deep recession and the unemployment rate remains high.” The next minimum wage review will be held in October 2022.






US PONDERS COVID-19 STIMULUS PACKAGE US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN has proposed an economic aid package that will help to pay for programmes to help schools safely reopen, accelerate COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, financially support small businesses, extend unemployment benefits through September, and increase food aid for those in need. The stimulus package, if passed by the US Senate, will be worth about US$1.9 trillion, and will also include the handing out of US$1,400 stimulus checks.



(WEF) is spearheading a coalition of 48 corporate leaders and their global corporations in a commitment to set new global standards for racial and ethic justice in business. Supporting the initiative are companies such as Facebook, which has committed to a 30% increase in the representation of black individuals in leadership by 2025. The social media giant said that overall representation of black employees in the US has increased from 2014 to 2020, with representation of black employees in technical roles increasing from 1% to 1.7% in six years.


BUSINESS TRAVEL NOT EXPECTED TO MAKE FULL RECOVERY UNTIL 2025 THE GLOBAL BUSINESS Travel Association (GBTA) has earmarked 2025 as the year global business travel will make a full recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Global business travel spending slumped by over a half to US$694 billion in 2020, with the equivalent of 400 million fulltime jobs in hotels, airlines, ground transportation, restaurants and other service providers lost in terms of global work hours. GBTA also predicted a 21% increase in business travel expenditure during 2021, before growth slows in 2023.





MORE FLEXIBLE AND TAILORED FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR UK BUSINESSES UK BUSINESS SECRETARY Kwasi Kwarteng has unveiled a new subsidy control system that he says will allow the UK to be more dynamic in providing support to businesses, including in innovative, R&D-focused industries, to encourage job creation and growth across all parts of the UK. Serving as a long-term replacement for the EU’s prescriptive state aid regime, the new system aims to create a more flexible, agile and tailored approach to support business growth and innovation, as well as maintain a competitive market economy and protect the UK internal market.


ITALIAN EMPLOYERS NEED TO CONTINUE PAYING SALARIES THE LABOUR COURTS of Bologna have ruled that employers cannot stop paying salaries even if business activity is suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. An employer’s decision to temporarily halt business during the pandemic, the courts added, does not constitute a force majeure event that can justify the suspension of payment of salaries to employees. Such a decision is to be seen as a risk typically inherent to the performance of business activity – something that does not have an impact on the employees’ right to salary.


OTTAWA LAUNCHES NEW LOAN PROGRAMME WORKERS OTTAWA’S FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has unveiled the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Programme (HASCAP), which aims to provide funding for eligible companies that have lost at least half their revenue as a result of the pandemic. Businesses can qualify for between C$25,000 (US$19,553) and C$1 million (US$782,150) if they meet the eligibility requirements, the main one being that they must show their revenues have fallen by at least 50% for at least three months out of the previous eight.







With the acceleration of the digital transformation just one of the many changes the pandemic has brought forth, many organisations have been compelled to rethink many of their strategies, systems and processes.



eskilling and upskilling through continuous learning has become a priority, even as leading organisations have embraced new technology, tools and mindsets to enhance employee effectiveness and engagement.

And perhaps more importantly, organisations are now beginning to see employees in a different light. Speaking with HRM Asia Magazine, Dani Johnson, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst, RedThread Research, USA, describes, “For over 100 years, organisations have tended to view employees as cogs in a machine, or as resources that happened to be human. Now, organisations are seeing employees as the full humans they really are – as individuals with unique needs who are worth empowering and developing.” As a consequence, organisations are now investing far more in employee development, and are empowering employees to make decisions about issues such as customer service or process improvements. They are also moving away



from a one-size-fits-all development approach and enabling personalised development opportunities. Within this development sphere, technology is also being increasingly leveraged to achieve better results, added Heather Gilmartin Adams, Senior Analyst. RedThread Research. “Better data, better integrations and better software based on AI and machine learning, are enabling learning tech to do much more than it used to.” For instance, automations are now helping to take work off the plate of learning and development (L&D), enabling L&D practitioners to do more strategic and innovative work, Adams observes. ‘Coaches on the shoulder’ apps are giving real-time feedback to improve performance across organisations, and‘nudging apps’ remind employees to practice key learning elements on-the-job, while integration to platforms such as Teams and Slack bring learning into the flow of work. Organisations are also deploying passive tracking apps that use latent data to provide employees with data they can

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use to improve. For example, there are apps that read a manager’s emails and give feedback on how to relate better to employees reporting directly to them. As more tech vendors offer more functionalities in more combinations than ever before, organisations are also beginning to think more holistically about learning tech, according to Johnson. “In terms of learning ecosystems, what are you trying to enable employees to do, and how can you intentionally fit together various learning opportunities, both tech and non-tech, to enable those things?” she asks. With employees already utilising so much tech in the form of project management apps, email and chat, to name but a few, Redthread advises L&D to think about how to leverage available tech to take learning to where employees already are. Sustainability is also important, as ecosystems are ‘living things’ that require maintenance and pruning. “L&D should be thinking not only about what tech to add to the ecosystem, but also what is not being used, or is duplicative and can be removed,” Johnson explains.

• MarComm Management: With so much learning content available and so many other things vying for employees’ attention, it can be helpful for L&D to have in-house marketing skills to help employees find learning opportunities and motivate them to engage in learning. • Learning Path Creation: As learning becomes more and more personalised, L&D needs the skills to help people navigate their unique learning journeys.

Identifying key skills for the future of work

Redefining the role of L&D While it is hoped that 2021 will bring a more stability to the workforce after a turbulent 2020, the likelihood is that organisations will now have to operate in markets where they have to pivot quickly and continuously. In ever-evolving environments thus, agility and responsiveness will be key for success, says Adams. L&D’s role, is to enable this agility by fundamentally changing the way we work, as Adams explains, “We must shift to a mindset of enabling, not providing. Forwardthinking L&D organisations are focusing on empowering and enabling employees to develop, and not on providing all development opportunities themselves.” She recommends organisations to focus on enabling six key employee behaviours. 1. Plan: Employees should be allowed to plan their careers, both inside and outside the organisation. 2. Discover: Find opportunities and content that will take employees in the direction they would like their careers to go. 3. Consume: Allow employees to access experiences that can help them develop new knowledge and skills. 4. Experiment: Allow employees to practice

and get feedback on new skills. 5. Connect: Employees should be encouraged to connect with and learn from other employees. 6. Perform: Employees must be motivated to perform better on the job and learn while doing it. Within the L&D function, new skills are needed to deliver and support this new way of working, that is, enabling rather providing learning. These include: • Product Management: With the move to learning tech ecosystems, L&D needs the skills to oversee the ecosystem, understand the integrations, negotiate contracts, and ensure deduplication across L&D organisations. • Data Analysis: This includes statistics, data cleaning, data visualisation and storytelling, and is often closely tied to people analytics and business intelligence functions.

As the future of work continues to be shaped by recent events, organisations around the world need to work towards identifying their highest-priority skills based on their organisation’s own environment, business strategy and existing workforce skills. This will be critical as organisations need to be increasingly responsive in a future of work that emphasises agility, says Johnson. “Responsivity is the ability of organisations to recognise trends in the operating environment and effectively turn possible disruptions from those trends into a distinct organisational advantage.” Citing research RedThread Research conducted in mid-2020, she highlights how high-responsivity organisations have a “significant advantage” over low-responsivity organisations in several areas, including: employee engagement, meeting business goals, responding to market changes, innovation, and satisfied customers. Johnson elaborates, “Interestingly, this research found that high-responsivity organisations were ten times more likely than low-responsivity organisations to develop talent internally to a very great extent (49% vs 4% of survey respondents). “This means that one key to the future of work is, first, identifying the skills your organisation uniquely needs to develop, and then developing those skills among existing employees, rather than bringing in new talent.”

Dani Johnson and Heather Gilmartin Adams will jointly present the keynote session on Tuesday, March 23 (10 am SGT) at Learning Technologies Asia 2021, organised by HRM Asia. Click here to register for the session and turn to pages 12-15 for more information on Learning Technologies Asia 2021.






#BetterMe by AXA helps organisations construct more resilient workforces

A resilient workforce, suggested Jean Drouffe, Chief Executive Officer of AXA Insurance Singapore, is made up of healthy, motivated and productive employees.


e said, “We are living in a volatile, uncertain and risky environment, and employees are experiencing a very high level of stress. Over the last decade, there has been mounting pressure on individuals both in their personal lives and their worklife career, where individuals are really expected to perform at every moment.” At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to bring uncertainty to the workforce, Drouffe’s comments are particularly pertinent. Faced with the prospect of unemployment and reduced earning power, employees are feeling more stressed than ever. This can be particularly relevant for employees in Asia, who have traditionally demonstrated one of the highest work stress levels in the world. For instance, a recent survey by market research firm Ipsos found that 56% of Singapore residents are pessimistic about job security for themselves, their families or other people they know personally. Urging organisations to treat workforce resiliency as a priority, Drouffe added, “Organisations need to invest in their most important asset – their people. It benefits the company in so many ways if you have more motivated and productive employees.” Besides demonstrating that companies are invested in their employees’ overall health, introducing good employee benefits can not only help to attract and retain talent, but also create more motivated employees in these uncertain times.

#BetterMe by AXA offers customised solutions for every company and employee According to an AXA survey conducted in 2019, 36% of respondents felt that the level of coverage in the benefits they receive is unsatisfactory. To bridge this gap, #BetterMe



by AXA offers a wide range of benefits, including flexible top-up features for companies and employees, dedicated service and engagement with employees, and digital convenience, amongst others. The following points are what #BetterMe by AXA had to offer for companies and their employees:

Flexible top-up plans #BetterMe by AXA allows companies to customise their corporate plan’s coverage and wellness offering based on business needs and insights on employees’ needs. A base plan with options for hospitalization and term life insurance is selected, followed by optional add-on coverage and supplementary services. Employees will have the option of enhancing the company-provided insurance plan by adding on coverage, including general practitioner coverage, specialist coverage and dental coverage. Essentially, the base offering allows employees to customise and supplement the coverage by enhancing their benefits according to their individual needs and budgets.

Dedicated service and engagement As part of the #BetterMe offering, AXA ambassadors will be allocated to clients to assist in the onboarding process. They


will help conduct training sessions to inform employees of their benefits and help companies better engage with employees by organising events based on the employees’ interests. These include, but are not limited to, financial talks, health screenings and fitness classes, and will be conducted at your office or through virtual online sessions. The AXA ambassadors will also provide a range of advisory on personal financial needs from personal savings to family planning. #BetterMe by AXA aims to provide not only a flexible plan, but also a holistic employee benefits plan that allows employees to enhance their quality of life outside of their working hours.

Digital convenience As a one-stop digital platform, MyAXA contains employees’ group health insurance information in one app. With MyAXA, employees can gain easy access to essential health insurance information, whenever and wherever they are. These include easy access to health cards, insurance policies and useful health and wellness articles, infographics and videos. Other than MyAXA, which is designed for employees, AXA also developed a platform to support HR. It is a convenient one-stop portal that provides HR with access to all information and eliminates manual processes. It offers features such as: • All documentation, including invoices, receipts and policy schedules are contained in the portal. • It allows HR to manage new staff and staff leavers quickly through the portal. • Easy access of the company’s data, such as ‘top ten’ conditions, segregation by gender, and filtering of employee claims, amongst others. • Quick notification alerts for HR To provide more value to HR processes, the dashboard can help HR estimate their company’s employee benefit premium for the next year. This is done though verifying the source of claims, as the following year’s premium is dependent on the current year’s claim records. The dashboard also allows HR to understand where the claims are coming from through criteria such as the top conditions of the claim, as well as the source of the claims. Even for employees who wish to purchase additional coverage subsequently, they can conveniently use MyAXA to do so without going through HR for forms and signatures, thus reducing the amount of paperwork that has to be done. Click here to find out more about how #BetterMe by AXA can help your organisation build a healthier and more productive workforce.

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Driving organisational growth with L&D as the focal point Learning and development (L&D) is entering into a new era, as organisations are beginning to redefine the role L&D plays in their organisations and how it relates to organisational success.


o provide more insight into how organisations can effectively grow and develop their L& strategies, HRM Asia is organising Learning Technologies Asia 2021, an entirely virtual event taking place from March 23-24.

As organisations continue to look towards L&D to provide the agility and responsiveness required to succeed in ever-evolving environments, Learning Technologies Asia 2021 has lined up an esteemed panel of thought leaders, who will provide key insights into how organisations can develop their learning strategies to stay ahead, innovate and grow. Here’s what to expect at Learning Technologies Asia 2021:

A new era: Trends in learning and employee development Join Dani Johnson, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst at RedThread Research, and Heather Gilmartin Adams, Senior Analyst at RedThread Research, for an exploration of the near future of employee development, including: • Technology and trends that have fundamentally changed the way we develop employees. • What will matter to organisations moving forward and how that changes L&D’s job. • The future of work, the worker, and what it means for ensuring a skilled workforce.



The future of learning in the era of capability led transformation Looking at the future of learning is Aek Ussivakul, Senior Vice-President, Learning Platform and Data, Siam Commercial Bank, who will explain his thoughts on how “flash” or “invisible learning” will be the next big thing in the era of transformation. He will also share his thoughts on how the L&D function is at risk of becoming obsolete in the coming years.


What you need to know about the state of skills in 2021

Re-HIT (Humanising Information Technology)

Today, success increasingly depends on adapting business models in the new way of work including reskilling employees to ensure their skills are up to date. Joining us is Ajay Sridharan, Vice-President, India/South East Asia & Middle East, Degreed, who will be sharing the company’s latest State of Skills research report to help you identify what skills are at most risk, or that are high in demand. Ajay would also share guidelines on where you should focus your people investments to stay ahead.

While ‘humanising tech’ may mean designing technology to be humans, Vinisha Jayaswal, Chief Learning Officer, Apollo Hospital Enterprise India, during her session, will advocate the importance of ‘humanising’ mindsets to meet the demands of evolving technology in the L&D space.

Click here to reserve your seat, and be part of the L&D discussion at Learning Technologies Asia 2021!

The future of workplace learning in a post-COVID-19 world

Virtual working and learning – Blending the best of solo and social

Embracing employee journey through targeted learning practices

Drawing from his experiences as Head, Centre of Innovation in Learning, National Institute of Education, Singapore, Dr Samson Tan will delve into how the acceleration of the digital transformation is giving rising to opportunities for L&D professionals to reimagine the future of workplace learning in a post COVID-19 world. He will also highlight strategic examples of artificial intelligence (AI) application opportunities in workplace learning.

Examining the topic of virtual working and learning, Dr CJ Meadows, Professor of Design Thinking, SP Jain School of Biz; and Director, i2e, The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Centre, Singapore, will share insights and behind-the-scenes stories about virtual collaboration, transformative global education and engaged learning online (ELO).

Highlighting the importance of engaging employees in the L&D process, Roby Tatan, Head of Learning & Development, Sinar Mas Land, Indonesia, will discuss the company’s L&D strategy on engaging employees. This begins with the onboarding process and through to the development of employees’ paths in L&D, ensuring they are engaged and productive via targeted learning practices.


Asia’s Leading Workplace Learning

Join us at Learning Technologies Asia 2021, region’s most influential and progressi technology online event. Learn from international L&D experts, discover the latest t dedicated to workplace learning and engage with over 1,500 of the region’s senior professionals and business leaders.

LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES ASIA 2021 also marks the start of HRM Asia’s HR Leadership Series, which, over the coming weeks, will guide you though all the challenges and opportunities as you navigate through 2021.

Thought-provoking sessions by L&D experts

Hear from these international experts as they will be sharing exclusive insight experiences focusing on digitalisation, engagement and change managemen Dani Johnson Cofounder and Principal Analyst RedThread Research

Heather Gilmartin Adams Senior Analyst RedThread Research

Aek Ussivakul Senior Vice President - Learning Strategy, Learning Experience Platform and Data Analytics Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand

Ajay Sridharan Vice President, India / South East Asia & Middle East Degreed


H R M the A latest S I A learning . C O Mtechnologies F E B R U A R Y - M A R C H 2 Bringing 0 2 1 together

Blended learning | Classroom training | Collaborative learning and technolo technology and implementation | Gaming and simulations | Learning and perfo tools | Learning evaluation | Learning management infrastructure, methods and



Drive learner engagement in a world of unknowns


s a result of COVID-19, companies are exploring technical and non-technical pivots. These may include spending shifts to enable remote work for an extended period, increased focus on cybersecurity, expanded mental health and wellness programs, and enhanced personal safety measures. How will companies successfully pivot to a digital learning environment that is engaging and delivers sustainable outcomes in a world full of variables and unknowns, while also keeping costs and complexity under control? When it comes to engaging your people effectively in today’s uncertain environment, here are some approaches that can help:

1. Connect learning plans to each learner’s short and long-term career goals Historically, personal growth was the number one motivator for learning. Now, our user base identifies delivering results in their current role as their number one motivation, while the second biggest driver is preparing for their next role in the organisation. This shift from personal interests to training that impacts their performance implies that today’s learners are working hard to deliver business results and influence outcomes. Develop a clear connection for your people between what they are learning and their current or future job role. This motivates them to dedicate time and attention to their development. Next, ensure they can easily find assets that help them drive results quickly, and more importantly, apply what they are learning to their daily work.

2. Offer meaningful, portable recognition for individual accomplishments Traditionally, learners who completed training programmes displayed framed certificates of achievement as a source



of pride. Still, long before COVID-19, digital badges became a proven method to motivate and engage learners. The power lies in their portability, allowing learners to attach them to their online profiles, while also offering a digital history of skills that the company can reference as well. Allow your people not only to reach milestones but also to spread the word. Empower your learners to cultivate their personal brand and proudly showcase their expertise among colleagues, peers, managers, and social media networks. Encourage learners to share their accomplishments across digital environments in a way that is progressive, personal, and verifiable.

the employee who routinely listened to audiobooks while commuting home in the evening. With so many offices still closed, that commute, and thus learning window, has vanished. Meeting learners where they are today requires an acknowledgment that the cracks in the calendar available for learning are even smaller than they were pre-COVID-19. In addition to AI-driven content recommendations and mobile experiences, provide your people with learning opportunities that are not merely adjacent to their daily responsibilities but embedded within their workflow. This environment brings the notion of immediate application to a new level.

3. Enable learners to spend more time honing their skills, and less time searching for the right content

Where to Go from Here

Success amid a global pandemic requires a level of multitasking and agility previously thought unimaginable. Engaged learners develop the habit of maximising their time with learning that fits into the cracks of their calendar. To support this, learners need a clear starting point, as well as guidance on where to go next to achieve their goal. Personalisation is a critical element of an engaging learning experience. To avoid information overload, and to help your people identify Point A, look for opportunities to suggest curated content that individual learners are likely to find meaningful and relevant. Next, promote continuous learning by offering additional suggestions based on the learner’s activity and the activities of their peers. As learners refine one skill, this is how they will be enticed to develop a new one.

The most insightful and applicable content in the world is only useful if learners can discover and consume it meaningfully. Learner engagement is an essential element of a successful pivot to a digital learning environment that delivers positive outcomes. Organisations that adopted Skillsoft’s newest learning platform, Percipio, have seen a dramatic increase in learner engagement and report a higher confidence in skills and abilities applied on the job. To learn more about how the Percipio platform can improve learner engagement at your organisation, please request a demo.

4. Meet learners wherever they are Of course, people were busy and short on time long before the pandemic, but today’s reality amplifies the need to capably manage professional and personal responsibilities simultaneously. Imagine


About the Author ROSIE CAIRNES is Regional VicePresident, Skillsoft Asia Pacific

THE MODERN LEADER IS AGILE, INNOVATIVE, AND RESILIENT. Do you have what it takes to lead in uncertain times? Grow your leadership competencies with the latest insights, coursework, and thought-leadership content. Better together—learn more about the Skillsoft and MIT Sloan Management Review leadership resources. SKILLSOFT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM POWERED BY







The future of learning in the era of capability-led transformation


t was 11:00 am on December 15, just one week away to Christmas. I turned on the notebook and connected to the company’s VPN and then went straight to my most opened app “Microsoft Teams”. Yes, at Siam Commercial, Bank, we are still in a “working anywhere” mode, and we do all our work online. This was almost the end of the year but one last thing to do for this year is sharing the plan on what to do next year. “Ok, I’m online now,” is the company’s annual strategy session. Each of the business units need to share their strategy and business plan for next year to the presidents and top executives. For us the session went well and we are also excited with the questions asked by the president.

“What were the business impact contributed by the development programmes?” I believe this is the most popular question from top executives right now, as everything is moving really fast and we do not have the luxury of time as we used to in the past. We are now entering the new normal world, phase I (2020). And the way we entered this new normal was so sudden, no one was ever prepared for it. We also do not know when or how phase II will begin.

The focus then was more on preparing the workforce for the future. Data analytics, design thinking, agile development programmes were the most popular topics then. Programmes were more about learning and development with more of practicing and less teaching. The use of online learning and some AI-based learning were picking up but was nowhere near what we really expect to have from learning. In summary, we had more time to spend on learning and start using technology to help make learning more engaging and less expensive. HRM ASIA.COM

The focus is still preparing workforce for the future, but we are faced with limited time. Everything needs to be compressed and we are working with very limited budgets. And it is not about learning anymore; it is more about business outcomes and workforce mobility. In summary, we have almost no time to spend on learning but still need to get people to deliver the business outcomes and ready for the future.

learnings that are embedded in the flow of everything, for example, work and life. This means no more spending of time in a classroom or a 2-days workshop. Lastly, one very important part of the future of learning will see the move away from the focus on the skills, to the focus on business performance or career growth. It is likely that the next conversation I will have with my top management in the near future will be based on an entirely new and different context.

The future of learning

Learning before 2020


Learning after 2020

Personally, I believe that the future of learning is “flash or invisible learning” and we might not have learning and development functions (L&D) in the company any more. Flash learning is equivalent to a “super small bite” using personalised learning (AI) technology. When new things emerge, people tend to grasp a quick bite in terms of learning and applying news skills within a day, or a week at most. They also use technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and XR (extended reality to help accelerate the learning and skills adoption. Invisible learning includes all the


About the Author AEK USSIVAKUL is Senior VicePresident, Learning Platform and Data, Siam Commercial. He will be making at presentation at Learning Technologies Asia 2021 on March 23 at 11am (SGT).



Focus on key impact areas

‘Superpower’your talent during uncertainty


global pandemic. Mass remote work. A US election like no other. Racial unrest and protests. Climate disasters. 2020 packed decades worth of upheaval into one year. Alongside these events, business and work have gone through a seismic shift, and what we have learnt is that uncertainty is the only certainty. HR teams know this all too well. They have been on the front line and are critical to managing the health and wellbeing of their most valuable asset, people. The problem with all this uncertainty, however, is that good business requires planning. Typically, we prepare for the future through a scenario-based approach, including business or operational models based on historical data and other exogenous sources to make predictions about the future, and how to mitigate risk. In most cases, known risk. But what if the future holds something no one could fully foresee? What if another 2020 rolls around sooner than we might think?

Building an adaptable workforce We tend to think of reactive and proactive as opposites. The goal, as organisational leaders, we have been told, is to be proactive. But, things are still evolving and

changing fast – not just in the current situation, but due to endless advances in technology, globalisation, organisational structure and competition. Rather than trying to model every possible scenario and have a plan for it, the best performing organisations are focusing on building an adaptable workforce that can quickly react to known and unforeseen changes. They also understand the human element of change and know how to help their teams remain healthy and centred. They create teams that are adaptable, agile and resilient.

Making employees your superpowers To build a workforce of this nature is not something that can be engineered overnight by hiring the right people. Digital transformation has introduced significant skills gaps, and the pandemic has worsened these. While unemployment is rising, specialised skills are only getting harder to find. Research from PwC suggests that companies need to make existing employees their ‘superpowers’, spending more to reskill and upskill from within. To do this requires a complete learning and talent solution that transparently communicates across the organisation and can create personalised journeys, both for individual employees, as well as mapped to the future of the organisation.

Importantly, a talent solution focused on growing employee ‘superpowers’ needs to address three key areas: Employee engagement: Facilitated via paperless onboarding, self-guided learning tools, social collaboration tools and continuous supervisor feedback. An employee who is in control, motivated to learn and feels supported by their company both professionally and personally is far more likely to stay and be ready to help when problems arise. Compliance and risk mitigation: With online surveys and assessments, companies can measure behaviour and processes and identify possible red flags among employees quickly. Team performance data: Talent Development essentially is visibility. It is important to provide managers and employees with access to key measures that give a bird’s eye view of a team, including data on employee and manager performance. This helps in developing insights for creating a balanced working environment within the organisation during crisis, with timely reports and analytics that provide quick actions and ensure proactive measures for supporting employees appropriately. A system that also includes coaching for managers is essential in guiding them so that issues can be dealt with effectively. Ultimately, a business can only endure what its people can endure. By and large, people want to give their best and be great at their jobs. By setting them up with the tools to do their jobs well, helping them grow professionally, paying attention to them as people, and equipping them with the ability to gain new skills at pace, an organisation will be prepared for any crisis.

About the Author RHYS HUGHES is Regional Vice President of Sumtotal






How the supply and demand for skills are shifting


020 saw unprecedented changes in the workforce and the demand for skills reflected this. 60% of workers and managers feel that the COVID-19 crisis accelerated their need for new skills. This rose significantly in some sectors (technology was 77%, financial services was 64%, for example) and roles (HR at 68%, marketing at 69%, and IT at 75%). Simultaneously, the supply of skills faces a crisis of its own as, during the pandemic, almost half (46%) of workers say their employers reduced upskilling opportunities. This will potentially hinder growth as we move into business recovery in 2021, as people will not be equipped with the skills they need to fulfill the business strategy and take advantage of new business opportunities.

What skills are most at risk. The top 10 skills at risk according to the State of Skills 2021 are: 1. Advanced IT and programming 2. Leadership and managing others 3. Advanced communication and negotiation 4. Entrepreneurship and initiative-taking 5. Project management 6. Creativity 7. Advanced data analysis and mathematics 8. Critical thinking and decision making 9. Adaptability and continuous learning 10. Technology design and engineering Interestingly, you will see a mix of social, cognitive, and technological skills that are in-demand. This reflects the changing nature of work in 2020.



Widespread job uncertainty (and sudden business pivots) means that skills that can be applied across many projects and roles are more in-demand. Likewise, the digital acceleration we experienced during the first global lockdown has increased demand for technology skills that capitalise on this and the data created by our new digital workspaces.

What you can do to help support the upskilling of your people. First, you need to understand the needs of your organisation, what skills are required for the business strategy to succeed, what skills you have currently, what skills are missing, and what skills are being developed. From this, you will understand your most at-risk skills in your organisation and what should be prioritised in your upskilling strategy. Next, talk to your people to understand their skill needs and career goals. Find the overlap between your business skill needs and your people’s aspirations - this will help you support them with upskilling that aligns with their career, but that also drives your business forward. Additionally, look at how your people are learning, what content they are engaging with, the topics that are most popular, and the timings and format. This enables you to tailor learning to different preferences and this will make it more engaging (and likely that people will use your learning opportunities). For example, 55% of workers prefer to turn to their peers when they need to learn something new. I would always advise that you take a person-centric approach to your upskilling.


Careers and skills are very personal things and if you take a top-down approach, where skill requirements are dictated from above and upskilling becomes mandatory, you will get high engagement or learning retention. The final step is to provide opportunities for people to practice their new skills. The forgetting curve theory suggests that people forget up to 90% of what they have just learned within a week. Regularly practicing a skill provides the spaced reinforcement needed to remember it and commit it to your long-term memory. Opportunities to practice new skills can be offered through an individual’s current role, a stretch assignment or secondment, volunteering, mentoring, and redeployment into a new role or project. To discover more about the State of Skills 2021 and how your organisation can prepare its workforce with the right skills, tune into my session at Learning Technologies Asia 2021.

About the Author AJAY SRIDHARAN is VP of Sales, India/South East Asia & Middle East, Degreed. At Learning Technologies Asia 2021, he will be presenting a session titled What You Need To Know About The State of Skills in 2021 on March 23, at 11.30am (SGT).

From to




opportunities. Degreed does Learning Experience So you can create integrated, personalized development experiences that continuously engage your teams with the tools, content, and people that matter to them. Degreed does Skill Analytics So you can get real-time insights on supply and demand for skills, and focus upskilling and reskilling on the capabilities your business needs next. Degreed does Career Mobility So you can reveal up-to-date intelligence on your people's strengths, and automatically match everyone to tasks, projects, new assignments, or mentors - right now.

Learn more at FEBRUARY-MARCH 2021





Employee Surveys:

Dead or Alive?

A few months ago, The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article titled “It’s Time to Get Rid of Employee Surveys,” which listed multiple reasons for ditching them. Personally, I believe employee surveys of all types are more valuable and important now than ever before. Every company should be incorporating them – along with other forms of feedback -- into their workforce strategy. Here’s my take on where we are at with employee surveys and where we should be going.




In today’s constantly changing and unpredictable work environment, it is essential to understand what employees think. Employees today are suffering from a variety of stresses – health, working from home (or being furloughed), family issues, and economic uncertainties. In our Big Reset research, we have found that more than 80% of companies are now using open town halls, regular surveys, and focus groups to elicit employee input. Collecting employee feedback throughout the COVID-19 crisis shows employees that you care and are listening, builds employee trust (especially when coupled with a strong communications programme), and provides an essential source of intelligence for business leaders. According to research we conducted in the fall of 2020, listening to employees when defining return-to-work plans is one of ten practices most likely to predict positive organisational outcomes such as financial performance, customer satisfaction, change agility or workforce engagement and retention.

The survey market is on fire and tools are becoming more and more intelligent. While 40% of companies still do traditional annual surveys, companies are employing a new generation of listening tools. As technology has become more sophisticated, companies have become more mature in how they collect, compile, and use employee feedback. Companies are routinely using pulse surveys, which have become an important way to collect employee feedback throughout the pandemic crisis. Solutions are now available to aggregate data from multiple sources and provide recommendations and suggestions. Products from companies such as Medallia, Glint, and Qualtrics can elicit feedback from employees in many forms (Medallia can capture video sentiment, for example), immediately analyse the data for managers, and provide action plans or even alerts if serious issues arise. We can also get feedback information from performance and goal management tools, engagement tools, and recognition systems. Every time you give someone a kudo or thumbs up, you are essentially providing a form of feedback. Waggl has an algorithm to measure voting reliability so you can crowdsource ideas in minutes.

“EMPLOYEES ARE THE MOST VALUABLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT IS WORKING (AND WHAT IS NOT) IN ANY BUSINESS. IF YOU CREATE A WIDE VARIETY OF CHANNELS FOR FEEDBACK, YOU WILL GET AN ENORMOUS WEALTH OF HELP MAKING THE COMPANY PERFORM BETTER.” PepsiCo crowdsourced ideas for its “process shredder” and got over a million comments and ideas for new business processes in days, which then led the company to radically simplify the performance process and also start a crowdsourced new beverage product! Medallia can infer feedback from its case management system and pop up surveys at the end of a transaction. And tools from companies such as Cultivate and Glint can analyse open-ended feedback for sentiment, themes, and trends. Vault, the leader in a category I call “misconduct reporting tools,” can immediately identify harassment, ethical violations, or compliance problems and create confidential cases for resolution.

A new breed of integrated systems is coming. The potential to provide meaningful feedback as part of everyday work is enormous. An HR leader from Farmers Insurance recently told me that when the

company rolled out Workplace by Facebook, people immediately began raising issues related to leave policy, benefits, and pay that had not surfaced in traditional surveys. The HR team could immediately respond to these issues and formulate actions, when needed. That is the best example of “feedback to action” I can imagine, and it was not done with AI. Another new product, Eskalera, has built a set of diagnostics and listening tools to identify bias and diversity issues at work. This is a new form of employee assessment and feedback system, one that I know will be popular with many big companies. Workday is introducing some standard metrics in this area as well, and SuccessFactors has had such technology for a few years. The way I think about it, surveys are just one of many forms of feedback. In any organisation, there are many places to see what employees are thinking, their issues, and their complaints. What HR can now do is develop a comprehensive strategy for listening, very similar to what we do with customers. In today’s environment, this is a business-critical issue. If an employee has a grievance or workplace safety issue, you want to hear about it immediately. Whatever HR software you buy, I can guarantee you will find employee feedback features. Performance management systems from Glint, BetterWorks, Lattice, and 15Five now all include employee survey and sentiment analysis in their platforms. Recognition platforms from WorkHuman, OC Tanner, Achievers, and Fond all give you feedback information. And if you need enterprise-wide feedback, offerings from Perceptyx, Gallup, Willis Towers Watson, Peakon, Humu, and CultureAmp all provide amazing enterprise-level analysis. Now is the time to open up our ears and listen. Employees are the most valuable source of information about what is working (and what is not) in any business. If you create a wide variety of channels for feedback, you will get an enormous wealth of help making the company perform better.

About the Author JOSH BERSIN is a global industry analyst and dean of the Josh Bersin Academy.






6 key facts

about the multigenerational workforce in 2021 Drawing on insights from her book Reframing Generational Stereotypes, author and global thought leader Rachele Focardi explains why generational diversity and inclusion is quickly becoming the hottest item on the agendas of CEOs and CHROs.



FACT 1: The future depends on intergenerational collaboration

FACT 2: Stereotypes need to be reframed, not dismissed

At the rapid rate of change our society is undergoing, organisations need to quickly and continuously adapt. Alongside technology, diversity and inclusion will play a major part in their transformation journey, as without it, creativity and innovation will suffer. Generational diversity is diversity. While generational differences are often overlooked, buried under the sand, or simply ignored, they will now play a major part in either stagnating progress of catalysing change. Our world is in desperate need of both the experience and knowledge of older generations, and the energy and social mindedness of today’s youth. The pivotal role in turning the current humanitarian crisis into an opportunity will be played by the new generations working hand-in-hand with the older generations to charge a more positive trajectory and solve the many interconnected problems we will increasingly be facing.

There are a rising number of articles claiming “there is no such thing as generational diversity” or “generational differences are not real,” and instead reinforce that “people are people” and it is wrong to group us under a generational umbrella. While it is true that we are all unique individuals and should not be victims of bias, it is also undoubtably true that the context we are born and raised in shapes us. Stereotypes are important. They represent behavioural archetypes that cluster people together, and openly acknowledging and pondering on them — instead of becoming defensive — can do wonders in helping people from different age groups become more lenient, understanding and nonjudgemental, but also more self-aware, considerate and sensible in the way they interact with one another. Acknowledging and embracing differences is the only way to harness


the power of each generation and build multigenerational teams that can truly drive innovation.

anywhere, in not only a privilege but also a skill (and a much needed one, especially in the midst of a pandemic). At the same time being outside of their comfort zone and adopting new technologies made them come across as more “human” and “relatable” to their younger colleagues. Finally leaders had to reinvent themselves, becoming hyper flexible and compassionate in order to accommodate the vastly different needs and challenges of their employees during the various lock-downs. All this laid the foundation for a deeper and more meaningful relationship between generations going forward.

FACT 3: Intergenerational conflicts are very real, and ignoring them impacts the business While most employers understand the importance of embracing generational diversity, few are doing something about it. This is mostly driven by fear: fear of sounding politically incorrect, of being misunderstood, of offending people, of being unable to accommodate differing needs and expectations. These fears are justified, as there are a lot of sensitivities around this topic. However, generational differences, misunderstanding and insecurities — if not addressed — trigger toxic dynamics that hinder an organisation’s efforts to create a cohesive, collaborative and productive working environment, affecting client and partner relationships as well. Intergenerational discords negatively impact the ability to hire, engage and retain the right talent, to drive innovation and to build a strong employer brand. On the other hand, there are significant benefits to be reaped from harmonising the multigenerational workforce, including growth in revenue, lower turnover rates, higher productivity and higher profitability.

FACT 4: Every generation feels misunderstood Lack of contextual knowledge and mutual understanding is what leads to frictions between generations. Young employees oppose their managers, and older employees begrudge the young ones because they are not aware of how strongly the behaviours and the mindsets they disapprove of are rooted in the historical, political and social context each generation was brought up in. Organisations can level the playing field by helping employees become aware of each other’s needs, challenges, viewpoints, strengths — even fears. The older generations worry about becoming obsolete, considered out-of-place in environments that are increasingly digital and agile. The younger ones worry about not being heard or able to drive change. Until these fears are put to rest, it will be virtually impossible for senior employees to pass down their knowledge and experience to the younger ones, prepare them for leadership and empower them to drive change.

FACT 6: We all play a key role in fostering a culture of intergenerational collaboration

“WITHOUT THE ABILITY AND WILLINGNESS ON THE PART OF BOTH ORGANISATIONS AND EMPLOYEES TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT DIFFERENT GENERATIONAL CONTEXTS, BRIDGING THE GENERATIONAL DIVIDE EFFECTIVELY IS SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE.” FACT 5: COVID-19 helped bridge the generational divide Despite the pain and disruption, the Covid-19 Pandemic is most likely one of the best things that could have happened from a Multigenerational Workforce point of view. Digitisation became imperative for business continuity and survival, hence despite any previous resistance, organisations were able to push for the widespread adoption of various communication and collaboration tools overnight. Older generations, with no choice but to adapt, realised that the ability to work virtually, thread work into one’s private life, perform multiple unrelated tasks concurrently and be productive from

Leading organisations around the world are increasingly committed to making generational diversity a key item on their diversity and inclusion agenda. Employers can follow suit by being strategic and launching a series of initiatives and programmes to bridge the generational divide and harness the strengths of each generation. This includes organising activities to encourage intergenerational awareness and bonding, providing shared workspaces, using collaborative decision-making to create winning multigenerational teams, helping senior leaders shift into a new-age mindset, holding mangers accountable for their employees’ success, preparing young generations for leadership through exposure to senior management and strategic projects, and establishing a culture of crossgenerational and life-long learning. But at the end of the day, it is up to each and every one of us, because we all have a responsibility to create a nurturing and inclusive work environment.

About the Author RACHELE FOCARDI is a global thought-leader and public speaker on Multigenerational Workforce Dynamics, Employer Branding and The Future of Work. She is also Chair of the Multigenerational Workforce Committee for the ASEAN Human Development Organisation.






Learning in 2021 – Why the new context matters Due to the pandemic, new circumstances such as work from home and disrupted routines have emerged. Suddenly, the lines that used to distinguish the 9 to 5 managers at the office from the 5 to 7 parents at home have blurred.

- The Year in Search 2020 by Google BY ABHIJIT BHADURI


e have often heard that the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation journey of many organisations that would have otherwise taken 5 to 7 years. The world moved indoors. The playgrounds, malls, offices and educational institutions looked empty. The seminar rooms and meeting rooms in offices had no takers. The world had retreated to the safety of their home. Meetings had to be done on Zoom. Sales had to be reimagined because there was no way the sales team could meet the customer in their office. People managers had to learn how to manage a remote workplace and yet engage the employee. HR had to figure out not only how to hire virtually but to also onboard, manage performance, develop



and even separate an employee while complying with the law. The CEO had to learn how to do townhalls on Zoom. The way we communicate with devices is very different from the way we communicate in person.

Three shifts that will impact learning 1. The new learner is autonomous: Learning in a virtual environment is far more dependent on the learner being autonomous. Online courses are notorious for abysmally low levels of completion. The learning and development teams must leverage technology to figure out what engages each individual. Hard skills such as coding and tech can be better learned online. Soft skills are infinitely harder to learn online because they need feedback that is often built on nonverbal cues. Non-verbal cues are harder


to decode in virtual settings. Facilitators and speakers will have to understand how written and spoken communication happen in the virtual world. 2. D esigning a learning experience that can claim mindshare: Research shows that there are 80+ apps installed on the average smartphone. The average smartphone user spends 3 hours and 10 minutes each day on their device. About 2 hours and 51 minutes of this time is spent on apps (apps account for roughly 90% of smartphone usage). Any learning app has to be really well designed to compete with the apps designed by Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Google, (or their equivalent in your part of the world). Those apps that involve ecommerce, news and entertainment already have grabbed mindshare of your employees. The learning app must have content that is

2. Video, visuals, voice and vernacular It is predicted that in 2022, more than 80% of consumer internet traffic will be driven by online video. And this trend is expected to accelerate due to the rise in digital adoption during the pandemic. There is a shift to TV screens as people enjoy watching content on the big screen. Overall watch time of online video has increased, with YouTube on TV growing by 80% yearon-year in March 2020. Creating content in local languages can significantly increase content consumption. Local language content increases consumption by 17% in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In Indonesia, it increases engagement by 34%. Voice assistants can be used to be used to curate and personalise the learning experience.

relevant and engaging enough to compete for the learner’s mindshare. 3. Make learning social: The isolation created by the lockdown has made most learners crave for social contact. Learning content design can be a great way to meet this need. Allow learners to share their expertise with peers in the form of web-based or user-generated content posted on topic-based discussion boards. Other learners interested in similar skills can follow these boards to learn and even contribute to the topic – much like a social platform. Every new segment must incorporate a quiz, a poll, a video clip, an audio segment that keeps the learner engrossed.

Focus on the big three areas for 2021 1. Context shapes content strategy When we visit a new city, we may all have

different ideas that we will use to make sense of the city’s layout, the history, culture, the stories, the trivia, encounter with locals and much more. In order to design such an experience, we need to know everything about the individual. The kind of work the person does, their role in relation to others in the team, their prior knowledge and their social connects. The Organisational Network Analysis of a fintech startup revealed that new hires needed almost two years before they picked up enough tacit knowledge and history to be effective. Lack of written procedures meant that the new hire would need to constantly find someone who could contextualise things for the person. The learning experience design for these two cohorts would have to be significantly different. The context of the learner is the first step in designing a learning experience.

3. Market the learning experience Have you heard of Walt Disney? Of course, you have. The Walt Disney Company spent US$3.15 billion on promoting their products in 2019 in the United States. They spent US$4.3 billion on advertising worldwide, in the same period. They study the consumer’s buying behaviour and their shifting tastes. When it comes to learning and development, we do not make any effort to persuade the learners. We assume that simply sending an email announcing a learning opportunity is enough to get the employee to drop everything else and start learning. 2021 is the year organisations must wake up to the reality that the learner is very different from what they assume about the learner.

About the Author ABHIJIT BHADURI is one of the most followed writers on LinkedIn with more than 800,000 followers. His latest book, Dreamers and Unicorns, explains how leadership, talent and culture are the new growth drivers. He can be reached at





Agility defines the future of L&D


Organisations are beginning to redefine the role L&D plays in their organisations and how it relates to organisational success. In my last column in December 2020, I suggested that an organisation’s people will hold the key to whether organisational success can be achieved during the pandemic and beyond. In the intervening months since, nothing has suggested otherwise; on the contrary, many organisations are now placing more emphasis than ever before on both engaging with and developing their employees. At a time when work-from-home (WFH) remains a norm in many countries, and as organisations continue to exercise financial prudence, employees are increasingly being asked to perform multiple roles and duties. To ensure that employees are equipped with key skills that can be applied across multiple roles and projects, reskilling and upskilling through continuous learning has become, by de facto, a mandatory requirement. Even as a semblance of stability gradually begins to return to the workplace, it is clear that the world of world is unlikely to ever return to what it was pre-pandemic. This means that many key business functions will continue to be redefined, including learning and development (L&D). With L&D fast becoming the focal point for HR leaders to drive organisational growth, and as organisations find themselves having to respond quickly to changes, any discussion around L&D in 2021 is likely to centre around a key aspect – agility. Agile learning methodologies that focus on speed, flexibility, collaboration and communication are likely to find favour with L&D leaders this year, as they look to address any potential skills gap by ensuring that employees are rapidly reskilled. Besides through acquiring skills, agility can also be demonstrated in how learning takes place. In other words, organisations have the opportunity to make learning ‘fun’ for their employees. As the digital transformation continues to accelerate in many countries, learning is gradually being shifted to a virtual environment. This presents organisations with an opportunity to eliminate the old cliché that ‘learning is boring’ and create an immersive




learning experience that is both vernacular and participative. For example, letting employees themselves have a say in designing learning modules that are visually appealing and are specific to the work that they are doing creates a sense of ownership, and enhances employees’ engagement with the learning process. Or, as Heather Gilmartin Adams, Senior Analyst at RedThread Research, told HRM Asia Magazine recently, “Forward-thinking L&D organisations are focusing on empowering and enabling employees to develop, and not on providing all development opportunities themselves.” Adams and her colleague, Dani Johnson, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst at RedThread Research, will be jointly making the keynote address at Learning Technologies Asia 2021, where they will be examining the key trends in learning and employee development. Organised by HRM Asia, Learning Technologies Asia 2021 will take place from March 23-24, and will provide the platform for senior L&D professionals, business and HR leaders to discuss how organisations can develop their learning strategy to stay ahead, innovate and grow. The event also marks the start of HRM Asia’s HR Leadership Series, which are designed to address the challenges and opportunities as organisations navigate through 2021. These including employee engagement and experience, change management and leadership, HR tech, workplace compliance, employee evaluation and assessment, compensation and benefits, talent management, and L&D, amongst others. Clearly, one of the key priorities for many organisations today is to revisit their approach to L&D, with people at the heart of this transformation. While systems and technologies need to be put in place to ensure that L&D initiatives are successfully executed, it is equally important, if not more so, to equip workforces with the skills, learning experiences and development opportunities that will empower them to meet the challenges in a new normal. Organisations that are able to successfully achieve these key objectives, are likely to be able to find the agility and responsiveness that will allow them to find success in 2021, and beyond.


Asia’s Leading Workplace Learning Event Join us at Learning Technologies Asia 2021, region’s most influential and progressive learning technology online event. Learn from international L&D experts, discover the latest technologies dedicated to workplace learning and engage with over 1,500 of the region’s senior L&D professionals and business leaders.

Thought-provoking sessions by L&D experts

Hear from these international experts as they will be sharing exclusive insights and experiences focusing on digitalisation, engagement and change management. Dani Johnson Cofounder and Principal Analyst RedThread Research

Heather Gilmartin Adams Senior Analyst RedThread Research

Vinisha Jayaswal Chief Learning Officer Apollo Hospital Enterprise India

Aek Ussivakul Senior Vice President - Learning Strategy, Learning Experience Platform and Data Analytics Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand

Ajay Sridharan Vice President, India / South East Asia & Middle East Degreed

Dr Samson Tan Head, Centre for Innovation in Learning National Institute of Education

Bringing together the latest learning technologies Blended learning | Classroom training | Collaborative learning and technology | e-Learning strategy, technology and implementation | Gaming and simulations | Learning and performance | Learning content tools | Learning evaluation | Learning management infrastructure, methods and systems | Mobile learning solutions | Training management system | Video for learning | Virtual classroom technology and services

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