The HR Evolution: Technology and Learning Agility

Future of Work
July 19, 2021

“It’s really important that HR leaders continue to maintain advocacy for their own team.”

For our Future of Work webcast on June 16 2021, Erica Sand of Criterion welcomed Amanda Bailey, former Vice President of Human Resources for Brown University. Amanda is an HR executive leader who has worked in the HR space for more than 25 years— and she’s seen HR evolved dramatically. She talks about the new power and flexibility technology brings to learning and development — and how it’s replicating and improving on the in-person employee experience. Perfect timing for the changes we all went through over the past year, she noted — and a great way to strengthen an organization for the years to come.

Take a look at our edited highlights. Then, watch her full Future of Work episode here.

Erica Sand: How can learning be used as a tool to grow employees within an organization?

Amanda Bailey: I think technology is — I don't know how else to say it — an extraordinarily integral piece and component of learning. …Having been in HR for all these years in and outside of the nonprofit education sector, what I know for sure is HR never has enough people.

It's up to us in these very critical areas like HR to find technological solutions that can leverage and replicate that in‑person employee experience that’s necessary for them …. So I see it as being able to springboard our employees to have that experience in as many times and places as it's convenient for them.

I think the other thing that's really key for us to keep in front of us is McKinsey's “Future of Work” — a very eloquent, research‑based annual report that outlined how one in 16 jobs are going to be disrupted by the skills factor. And many of the jobs that we typically have that require physical work are going to need to be reskilled.  Those colleagues of ours out there are going to need support and encouragement to learn a different suite and cadre of skills to help them grow into new jobs over the next decade.

ES: How do you recommend using an HCM solution to foster employee learning and growth?

AB: There are multiple ways to create a learning culture. It doesn't all relate to just coursework. Building a learning culture and doing it in a comprehensive way needs to be more than just a one-lane thinking for the program design. It needs to be comprehensive — a suite of different lanes.

Part of it is a technology solution. Part of it is listening to the groups that are within the

community or within the organization and seeking input from employees — through

surveys, through anecdotal feedback, through representatives, through the HR community … Building employee resource group sis another really key asset to gain employee feedback without having to just rely on survey data. Get a pulse on how employees are feeling to help develop a learning environment.

And create a very strong coaching program. It can be very small to start up, but it is tremendously impactful, whether it's peer-to-peer coaching or supervisor to employee coaching. Instilling and embedding coaching in ways during performance conversations, check-in one‑on‑ones, and dedicating space and time for group meetings where coaching can be done inbreak out rooms, for example — Zoom is a really important component of that. In addition to that, mentorship programs can be scaled — the mentorship doesn't necessarily need to be with a more veteran employee to a more junior employee. It could be the other way around. I've seen that be very effective.


ES: If you could give any advice to HR leaders in 2021, what would it be?

AB: I would say to commit to creating that agility from a learning perspective, not just for the team in HR, but for the entire organization. We have a very, very strong set of imperatives ahead of us from a global market perspective and a domestic national market perspective — of reskilling and upskilling our employees. And it's going to be more on us to lead the dialogue necessary to allow our employees to learn and develop new skills, and find new opportunities to keep them within our organization.


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