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Learning and development approaches that work in Asia



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With Asians working ridiculously long hours, combined with their longing to work as a group, rather than individually – crowdsourcing, gamification, and multiple screens are all learning tools that can work well in Asia.

This was the essence of a panel discussion at Training and Development Asia, moderated by Human Resources‘ Akankasha Dewan, which saw HR and learning experts from KPMG, Dentsu Aegis Network and Willis Group Holdings come together.

“I’m in an industry with Generation Y galore, so we need to make sure our culture is aligned to that. We need to not only be where our clients our, but also where our employees are,” said Ujjwal Sarao, regional director of talent management at Dentsu Aegis Network in Southeast Asia.

She, therefore, suggests the 24/7 multi-screen approach – anything that companies design has to be mobile, personable and succinct.

This “borderless approach for a borderless world” will help bring down silos, and create a seamless experience for employees.

Most employees in this part of the world can communicate in English, but they prefer to learn in their own language.

Given that “Asians work ridiculously long hours,” Paul Tolton, director ASEAN MC at KPMG, agreed that accessing the learners through multiple touchpoints may work.

“The idea of going to a training course for one day doesn’t mean that those eight hours of work disappear, but that they will go back and do that work. So the idea of multi screening is fantastic for them,” he explained.

Tham Chien Ping, regional L&D head for Asia at Willis Group Holdings, was of the view that language is a big challenge in getting through to learners in Asia.

“Most employees in this part of the world can communicate in English, but they prefer to learn in their own language. That means finding the money to translate each programme.”

ALSO READ: How to create a high-impact learning culture

So what works – and what doesn’t?

In light of the trends highlighted, Sarao took an example of what works, in the learning communities created within Dentsu Aegis Network.

“Creating communities helped us use collaboration as a currency of learning. Not only do employees then learn from formal training programmes, but they learn from each other.”

KPMG has a similar framework to collaborate, in the sense of an internal social network.

Explained Tolton, “If I have a problem, I will just post the question on it with the relevant hashtags, and I will get a response from everyone globally. It is just crowdsourcing, and is a brilliant way to learn.”

He believes this will work better for Asian learners’ needs instead of linear learning models typical to the West.

Creating communities helped us use collaboration as a currency of learning. Not only do employees learn from formal training programmes, but also from each other.

The Asian tendency towards collaboration resonated with Tham as well, of Willis Group Holdings, who said “the notion that employees in Asia work more for the people rather than the brand is true.”

“In a recent training programme, we brought in colleagues from Hong Kong and Singapore. Instead of getting them to do individual work, we quickly realised they wanted to work as a group.

“This need to collaborate goes back to our culture of collectivism, as opposed to individualism in the West,” he added.

ALSO SEE: Photos from Training and Development Asia, 2015

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