28 November 2019

‘It’s up to L&D teams to help people navigate and embrace technological change’

Effective, timely L&D interventions are the secret to successful digital adoption projects, said Ciphr expert at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition 2019


Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery is head of content and community at Ciphr. She was previously deputy editor at People Management magazine. You can find her on Twitter @c_newbery. Her writing focuses on HR systems and solutions, as well as the employee experience at work.


Learning and development Technology


Effective, timely L&D interventions are the secret to successful digital adoption projects, said Ciphr expert at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition 2019

“When a new business challenge emerges, we can be quick to invest in a digital application that claims it’ll solve that problem for us. So why are we reluctant to invest time and money into helping our people develop the skills they need to make the most this new technology?”

This was the theme of a free learning session delivered by Ciphr’s partner manager, Megan Hope, at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition 2019 in Manchester on 7 November. “It should be L&D professionals at the heart of the learning and training that will make these digital projects a success,” she said. “If learning is overlooked by project managers, any attempts we may make to engage learners after a new technology is launched could well fail. Then the technology will go unused, it won’t deliver on its ROI promises, and it’ll be deemed a failure.”

L&D teams have so far been slow to react to rapid changes in learners’ needs, wants and preferences, said Hope. “Employers tend to promote and engage employees in training at specific times, such when new starters arrive, when they a new product is released, or when a new internal system is launched. These are all examples of training content and timings that suit the employer, not the employee – they aren’t employee-centric.

“It’s a training model that hasn’t kept pace with changes in the workplace, or how we learn how to do things in our personal lives. These days, if I want to learn a new recipe, I won’t wait until the next Jamie Oliver cookery show is on – I’ll look up recipes online or on YouTube, for example. I get the information, and do the learning, when I want it, in the format that I want it in.”

Workers are also grappling with more demands on their time and attention spans – making it harder for them to prioritise learning, added Hope. “Mentally and culturally it can also feel challenging to proactively plan time in for ‘learning’ or ‘upskilling’. Do you worry, for example, what your colleagues might think if you have time planned out for ‘learning’ – that you’re just wasting time?”

Developing a culture where learning is embraced and actively sought out is essential for successful change and technology adoption, she said. “The volume of information we consume on a daily basis is growing at an unprecedented rate. So when employees are asked to get to grips with organisational change and new technology, you need to be clear not only on the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of the change, but the ‘why’ – the ‘what’s in it for them’?”

Hope urged the audience of L&D professionals to undertake their own research into the types, format, and timing of learning that their people actually want and need – rather than relying on assumptions and gut instinct. “This will vary by department, location and demographic, too, so look to use forums, surveys, polling tools and idea-collection platforms to gather feedback and insight.”

Closing the session, Hope called on L&D professionals to put themselves at the heart of digital transformation programmes. “It’s time that leaders stopped overlooking the importance of learning and learning cultures in successful digital transformation. Change isn’t just about swapping one digital tool for another: it’s about a change of culture, a change of process, and a change of mindset. It’s about learning new skills and being open to new opportunities. And it is L&D professionals who have the skills and experience to guide organisations and their people on these exciting – and sometime scary – change journeys.”

Watch the talk in full below.