The Future of Work Requires a New North Star: Learning

Telescope aimed upwards

The only certain fact about the future is change. Today’s CEOs are turning their attention inward to prepare the organization for an unpredictable future, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)’s “22nd Annual Global CEO Survey.” Learning is a North Star to guide organizations to become more adaptable and agile.

Preparing for the future of work

Future changes are likely to have a broad impact on organizations. “Forces of change are affecting three major dimensions of work: the work itself, who does the work and where work is done,” Deloitte reported. To properly conceptualize the future of work, it’s best to consider the total impact of globalization, tech advancement, economics and politics.

CEOs can’t confidently predict future pressures from evolving regulations or business risks. Instead, today’s leaders must focus inward to prepare for the future. Some 77% of CEOs are choosing to drill down on operational efficiencies, according to the PwC report, and 71% look toward organic growth. More than half understand a need to develop key skills to innovate effectively.

The organization can prepare for change by developing agility and instilling a mindset of continuous learning and experimentation in the workforce. The future of work may be uncertain, but learning can provide a road map to guide organizations through new terrain.

Build an agile culture of learning

An agile workplace has the capacity for rapid change in processes, procedures and programs. Professional knowledge bolstered within each individual creates an agile capacity in static organizations. Organizational learning matters because employees need to be prepared to adapt to new work, roles and responsibilities by reskilling.

“We look to our people to quickly embrace and make the changes a reality. For us to be agile, we need to focus on unlearning the old and learning the new,” Emily Lundi-Mallett of Ingram Micro told the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Ingram Micro invested in learning pathways to influence rapid skill development, creating a faster pace of change when needed. Adaptability, experimentation and collaboration are three core values for a future-proof learning strategy.

Foster adaptability

Preparing the workforce to succeed in the future of work requires adaptable thinking and individuals willing to constantly learn new skills and technologies. A culture of learning should encourage employee efforts to continuously learn new skills and apply these capabilities in real time. Employees can gain a sense of purpose and adaptability in a culture that encourages real-time learning.

Destigmatize failure

An organization that places a high value on continuous learning will invest in learning management system capabilities for rapid upskilling and destigmatize individual failure. A “fail fast” mentality encourages self-motivation and innovative thinking by rewarding employee efforts to pursue learning or innovate within their team. CVS Health has worked to destigmatize failure and “attract, retain and develop employees with a growth mindset,” according to SHRM.

Support collaborative learning

An agile work environment breaks away from traditional hierarchies and organizational charts and removes barriers to contribution. Learning can foster an environment that encourages knowledge sharing via user-generated contributions to the LMS or digital communities of practice. An LMS can foster a solutions-oriented workplace in which employees openly network and listen to find solutions from others.

Learning is a predictable investment

Organizations must prepare for agile adaptability to succeed in the future of work. A culture of continuous, collaborative learning can foster innovation amid unpredictable external pressures. You may not know where your North Star is leading, but learning is one of the few guarantees for when you get there. No matter what changes, you can better prepare with real-time learning, collaborative capabilities and a fail-fast mindset.