L&D can drive the future of work – but it must create the right environment

LinkedIn's focus on Pfizer’s approach to learning shines a light on what is needed in a good learning environment...


In-demand skills are changing

Most in HR know the benefits of learning and development – understanding that it will play an increasingly important role as the world of work evolves at a, seemingly, ever-quicker rate. For instance, take recent CIPD data which shows that as technologies like AI and automation proliferate in the workplace, the jobs these technologies create – and they will create jobs; 35% of employers who have introduced these technologies in the workplace have seen more job creation as a result – will require a completely different set of skills. Couple this with a hiring crisis that is here to stay – at least in the medium term – and it’s clear that L&D has a role in upskilling and arming organisations with the skills needed for long-term competitive edge and success.

“What [are the] skills that are going to allow that person in the role to really deliver impact...”

But how can HR do this? In a recent LinkedIn Learning Blog, Sean Hudson, Head of Learning & Development at Pfizer, explained that there are crucial tasks that L&D or HR teams must go about doing to create the right conditions for learning and skills creation. “[Businesses must grow to create an environment that] not only imagines and satisfies required learning, but also includes desired learning as well,” he stated for the blog, indicating that learning strategies likely need to be as complex as the skills required to deliver modern work effectively.

So you can understand Pfizer’s approach to learning strategy creation, below are some of the key areas that Hudson believes L&D teams need to focus on so that they can create a future of work supported by the right skills.

Read on to find out more.


Understand job roles – and the future of those roles

Hudson: “We are really trying to understand the dimensions of our learners. Who is the learner? What is the competency matrix that they're expected to have? Which of those competencies are the most critical ones? If we can understand that, then we can start to architect what the learning experiences can be.

“So, if I understand what this role is, what the skills are that are going to allow that person in the role to really deliver impact, then we can evaluate, ‘Well let's assess that person against these particular skills’. Where do they have strengths? Where do they have deficits?" And then, how can we embed learning to ensure that their strengths are maintained and constantly reinforced? And so for the spaces where they have gaps or deficits, how do we upskill them, at least first to a level of competence that we think is essential?”

Align skills and values

Hudson: “We look at Pfizer's four core values and how those manifest themselves in the work that you do and in the impact that you make. We keep trying to layer on these particular dimensions to be able to say, ‘Skills in and of themselves are great and important to have. But we need those skills to live in the context of our values'. We need them to live in the context of the role. We need them to live and have an application to something more than just the acquisition of the skill, or the acquisition of the knowledge.”

“The culture we are building [at Pfizer] includes required learning, necessary learning, and desired learning...”

Creating a multi-pronged learning culture

Hudson: “The culture we are building [at Pfizer] includes required learning, necessary learning, and desired learning. So there's required learning, because we are a highly-regulated company and a highly-regulated industry. There's necessary learning, which is: What are the learning and the skills that I need to be competent and even successful in my role? And then there's this whole space around desired learning. Even if it has nothing to do with compliance and nothing to do with my role, what am I curious about? And, how can every colleague at Pfizer have access to information that they're curious about?”

Curate structures of work that allow learning

Hudson: “If the learning experience is boring and too heavy-laden, while it might get consumed, it won't be retained and it certainly won't likely be applied.

“And so, how do we understand through the voice of our learners what they want to be able to do? Are there structural challenges that we're going to have to break through? People at Pfizer are busy. So we're thinking through and putting in place ways that people can be less busy to free themselves up to contemplate, to think, and to learn. As we move forward, we are making sure that we can offer time-boxed learning. So if I have five minutes, ten minutes, 45 minutes, how can I consume learning when I have that opportunity over the course of my day?”

Read the full interview with Sean Hudson about Pfizer’s approach to learning and development

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for the next 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.