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Learning Transformed – The Future of Banking – Roundtable Report

17 January 2019     London
Hosted by theHRDIRECTOR.
Chaired by Jason Spiller.

The Financial Services sector operates in an environment of continuous change and increasing regulation. Organisations require learning that engages colleagues in an entirely different way. Supporting people with effective and innovative learning helps improve knowledge retention which is essential to reduce business risk exposures and avoid future penalties or damage to reputations.

DELEGATES
Amanda Bright, Manager, HR Compliance, L&D – Ford Credit Europe Bank Plc
Kim Clarke, Director of HR Business Partnering, Employee Relations & Shared Services – TSB
Julie Hyett, UK Talent Lead – Aon
Melanie Lepine, Group Head of L&D & Talent – Domestic & General Group
Kristy Rowlett, Talent, Leadership & Development Manager – Wesleyan Assurance Society
James Rule, HR Platforms Director – Deutsche Bank
John Shurmer, Head of Digital Learning – Barclays UK
Sarah Underhill, People Director, Insurance & Wealth – Lloyds Banking Group
Trudie Adcock, Head of Leadership Development – Santander UK

 

WHAT EXTERNAL TRENDS AND INTERNAL PRESSURES ARE IMPACTING HOW YOUR METHODS OF LEARNING MUST CHANGE?

Sarah Underhill: We made a public commitment to significantly increase the amount of time our colleagues spend learning. As part of a full strategic workforce plan, which identified the skills and capabilities we think we’re going to need over the next three-to-five years. We’re supporting colleagues to diagnose which piece of learning they might need.

Julie Hyett: We’re looking at this from a very human aspect because that links directly to engagement. Development has to be led by the way we want to engage with content in the real world. We’re not there yet. The systems are catching up.

John Shurmer: There’s five generations in the workplace and we need to engage them all. It’s about giving people choice, clarity and simplicity. Content being pushed continuously isn’t absorbed, as colleagues have so much going on, so we need to focus on ways to curate and personalise. It’s about right content to the right people at the right time with the right messaging.

Kim Clarke: We’re not “Netflixing”, but TSB is just five years old, so change has been swift, with IT migration and understanding process changes. So providing content in lots of different ways is key, on digital platforms and the traditional classroom-based approach.

John Shurmer: If we are going to achieve the truly blended approaches we need to create new habits. One of the benefits of learning face-to-face is that dedicated and protected time away for learning. I see our role as creating the time and space for the engagement to happen, and by also stimulating and nudging our learners to keep coming back for more.

Melanie Lepine: Agreed, there’s definitely a shift towards more digital, but my gut feeling is that you can lose the learning – you complete a module, but you’re not really contextualising, and discussion is key too. We’re trying to curate playlists of content, but there is also some reflection opportunity. That’s the challenge, the actual culture in the organisation.

James Rule: We have to be mindful that people have varying degrees of motivation to consume learning, and they are trying to do their job. We’ve successfully created an internal “Netflix/Spotify” for learning content, called the Digital Curriculum. People like the familiarity, and the model helps the bank as well, as we gain insights into what is trending.

Amanda Bright: More flexible and remote working practices present additional challenges to our traditional methodology. We are developing more online learning initiatives so people have greatercontrol over their learning time – this requires a discipline to ensure learning is effective, rather than a modular, tick-box exercise.

Kristy Rowlett: Definitely, our people really value learning together and we’re investing to add more value, by creating those immersive learning experiences, where people learn together. I agree about relinquishing control on ‘knowledge-based learning’, as people absorb so much anyway in so many different ways.

Savvas Koufou: Research published recently revealed that, on average, people spend about 30 minutes a day learning – outside of their work learning systems and environments – on their smart phones. Factor that against the huge cost of corporate learning, which has always divided opinion on its effectiveness, and this speaks volumes about the changes in L&D. We do need to bring that whole customer mindset to our employees and legacy technology infrastructure doesn’t allow for that. So, how do we bring learning into the flow of work? When my radiator broke, I didn’t have time to call a plumber, my flat was being flooded. So I looked on YouTube, watched a short demo by and fixed it. That’s our world now.

Mark Williamson: The learner as consumer is really important, and that brings opportunity and pressure to L&D practitioners. The “Netflix” is pretty impressive, it is the leading curve, but it doesn’t cover everything. L&D will ultimately become an ecosystem, rather than a traditional a provider/learner dynamic, and as learning is curated, you will end up with this digital jukebox, that will just keep evolving and updating, with a meritocracy of input.

James Rule: Agreed, like a playlist on Spotify, with people following others, AI making suggestions – a mixture of experiential and expert content curation is a powerful proposition.

HOW SATISFIED AND ENGAGED ARE YOUR COLLEAGUES WITH THE WAY LEARNING IS CURRENTLY DELIVERED? HOW DO YOU BENCHMARK IT?

John Shurmer: We have made an effort to consider what is important to our learners. The whole experience matters, both the formal and informal touchpoints, so we need to improve each component part across this and keep focused on how it comes together for learners. Julie Hyett: People like different things and we must be flexible. We learnt a huge lesson last year when we rolled out an introduction to mindfulness, the content was interesting, topical of course, but the way in which people felt it was adding value to their life was a game changer. Sarah Underhill: There’s something about signalling to people that you care about them as individuals. We’ve launched an accelerated development programme for our People Partners, to support their learning journeys. They are doing this as a community, which is also very powerful, because cohorts learn from each others’ questions and challenges.

WHAT SORT OF FEEDBACK DO YOU RECEIVE, IN TERMS OF UNDERSTANDING WHETHER LEARNING IS IMPACTING?

Kim Clarke: We’ve opened multiple channels where partners can feed back their experience, an example is, Yammer groups, active ways on the learning platform itself to feedback and, importantly, to share content with peers and recommend learning to others. Through these vehicles, we have a sense of what’s working and what’s not. We focused on behavioural and how we wanted to support our partners to deliver the L&D experience.

Melanie Lepine: If you take the attitude to just put content out there, in a bid to keep people happy, then you shouldn’t be surprised by the feedback. Contrast this with providing what is needed “in the moment” to coin a phrase, and you receive feedback quickly, because learners have the context instantly and can apply the learning to an immediate issue.

PERHAPS OUR “RADIATOR” ANALOGY TODAY WILL BECOME A BUZZ PHRASE FOR THE FUTURE OF L&D? THE LEAK, NO TIME TO CALL A PLUMBER, THE INEVITABLE FLOOD AND THE SOLUTION AT HAND VIA A YOUTUBE EXPERT CALLED TERRY.

Kristy Rowlett: We engage our people with learning by only ‘pushing’ regulatory learning and then use a ‘pull’ strategy for all other learning. Choosing what you want to learn means you’re much more likely to apply it and perform better as a result. For example, our leaders, who have actively engaged with our leadership development programmes, have much higher engagement scores than those who have not.

Amanda Bright: One of our key challenges is the current pace of change with some factors being beyond our control. Consequently, we’re taking a more holistic approach to training, with a focus on resilience and mental health awareness.

James Rule: There was a demand for a channel devoted to technology groups covering everything from development through to operations. They already knew about Pluralsight – it’s well respected in the tech community. We could have tried to exert more control, but we said; “you want this, you’re the experts and it will improve the capability across the bank”. It is now a channel on our learning architecture.

Sarah Underhill: I would just like to add that authenticity, particularly mindfulness, is key: Our CEO had a very well-publicised period out of the business some years ago; he came back and said, “I’ve had a really tough time and I want to help everyone in this organisation – all of you – to understand that there are signals, and I want you to notice the signals because I don’t want you to go through what I’ve been through”. This has enabled us to bring the wellbeing agenda to life with real purpose. I think the humility he showed in doing that has been game changing in the organisation.

IN ORDER TO KEEP UP WITH INCREASING REGULATION AND LEGAL CHANGE, HOW COULD COMPLIANCE LEARNING CHANGE? ARE YOU CURRENTLY ENGAGED IN OR LOOKING AT DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES, SUCH AS MICRO, GAMIFICATION OR BRANCHED SCENARIOS?

Savvas Koufou: If there is too much emphasis on the business – a diktat, as opposed to the advantage of the individual, immediately you alarm and disengage. The employer/employee dynamic has shifted – fundamentally a philosophical challenge – and the dialogue and emphasis has to change.

Mark Williamson: We have to take the learner’s perspective, adopt that mindset, then you’re more likely to engage. We all know that the psychological contract is critically important and has changed too. Ultimately, if people feel genuinely invested in the round, this will create self-responsibility, when it comes to the mandatory compliance learning.

John Shurmer: New approaches are definitely useful if they improve the experience. Gamification tools such as; ‘in module’ points and quizzes, that count towards assessment, can really help with engagement. We need to continue to innovate. Regulatory learning content is a significant part of the learning our colleagues complete, so as learning professionals, being closely involved in the approaches that are used and putting effort into making it as effective and engaging as possible, is important.

SINCE THE CHANGE FROM THE FSA, TO THE FCA AND PRA, WHAT ARE THE KEY DIFFERENCES?

Julie Hyett: From what I’ve seen, there’s definitely a desire for a closer collaboration, but no way near as much as I think is perhaps needed. We need to bring the regulators on that journey, and have them part of the design process.

Kim Clarke: We’ve worked quite collaboratively, right across the organisation, with our second line risk colleagues, with the FCA and PRA in the structure and the content to move some end products that are far more fit-for-purpose for people to work and engage with. It’s still a journey, but we’re making solid progress.

Melanie Lepine: For insurance, we’ve just had IDD introduced and so suddenly, we’ve a requirement for almost all our colleagues to do 15 hours’ of CPD a year, which has driven focus. So, there is a whole suite of content – the CRO is now our best friend, in terms of creating content – and we’re also working with a new start-up company, to create some insurance-focused, specific IDD content, because a lot of the compliance is really finance-led.

Sarah Underhill: Our mandatory training is content-specific to different departments and different roles; there are also different “levels” depending on role and varying flexibility, dependent on whether you have undertaken the same learning previously. So, it’s a little bit more – but not quite – personalised. We recently introduced more of a “game” approach to some mandatory training. It’s important that we keep testing and pushing at the boundaries with mandatory training.

James Rule: Pragmatism is key, how it’s delivered in the flow of work is crucial and how people experience it – and if the emphasis is on inform rather than instruct – you avoid the dreaded tickbox culture.

Julie Hyett: The disconnect comes when you flick through your “32 slides” and it’s just “knowledge”, and knowledge does not directly translate into “behaviour”. The challenge that we’ve been given by the FCA now is that, knowledge is not enough, because we’re all compliant, we all tick those boxes, and now they’re saying, “actually, it’s about changing behaviour, about accountability”.

Kim Clarke: Behaviour and the connection is central. We’ve created scenarios that place partners in the shoes of customers and gives them the choice of how to react to different situations. Roleplaying is very impactful and engaging for us.

Mark Williamson: Yes, emotional connection is critical and particularly effective in non-compliance learning. I haven’t seen it used in compliance learning, but I think it would be equally as effective.

Savvas Koufou: From what I’ve seen, I’m no fan of traditional compliance training. It was built in a different time and it’s about prevention. Cybercrime requires pre-emption, you need to spot it before it happens. In a world of pre-emption, predictive analytics, multiple guesses at the end of an hour of e-learning does not work. There’s a resurgence of face-to-face training, more in the form of immersive experiential learning, because we know that people’s minds open when they have an emotional response to something – such as roleplaying and scenarios – I think has a future in compliance learning. The FCA is saying, “great, we’re really pleased to see your compliance reports, but what does that tell us about your organisation”? The future will see the FCA’s increased involvement in compliance training.

HOW CAN WE BETTER DEVELOP AND EMBED CLEAR LEARNING PATHWAYS THAT EMPLOYEES USE?

Sarah Underhill: The size of your organisation impacts this question significantly. Our strategic workforce plan shows some very significant shifts in our workforce – we need significant numbers in new roles, such as; data scientists, scrum masters and product owners – so we’re looking at how we can re-skill and upskill colleagues in other roles, to meet this demand. We’ve just introduced job families so that there is greater transparency to alternative career pathways. We’re actively encouraging talent to move around the Group and to join up geographically, instead of thinking “divisionally”.

Kristy Rowlett: Agreed! With 1600 employees, we can be much more joined up on talent movement, yet it still takes regular collaboration between our HRBP, Resourcing and Talent teams with business leaders, to understand what talent we have across the organisation, and how we can create those opportunities for movement. Learning pathways work best when they are related to career pathways.

L&D HAS GOT TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THAT CAREER PATHS AREN’T THE SAME ANYMORE. IT’S ABOUT BREAKING DOWN THE DIVISIONS AND ALLOWING PEOPLE TO MOVE FREELY BETWEEN ROLES.

James Rule: Career paths are unique to the individual, we all have had and want different experiences. But historically, the career frameworks and hierarchy assume that people want to ascend. We need to provide experiences, be they gig, secondment or a project that sparks their curiosity, and helps them on their unique career path. This holds tremendous value.

Mark Williamson: Key is how we encourage people around self-directed learning. Most pathways are dynamic by nature now, and so AI and the organic curation of learning content and knowledge will play an integral part in achieving multi-directional career movement, and the support of developing the emerging roles in the business.

Savvas Koufou: In the past, building capability frameworks and learning pathways would take years and at huge cost, only for them to be out-ofdate almost immediately. AI completely changes that and it’s timely because; 25 percent of the workforce are contingent workers, and that’s predicted to be 50 percent very soon. Another thought, we here are talking about compliance and regulation, and if half of the workforce is contingent, this needs serious consideration.

HOW CAN WE LEVERAGE NEW WAYS OF LEARNING, BEHAVIOURAL-LED APPROACH AND IMMERSIVE LEARNING, FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT?

Sarah Underhill: We created a very specific learning programme with several parts; personal resilience; leadership impact and facilitated opportunities for leaders to spend time in different organisations facing similar challenges. This programme was not labelled “mandatory”, but there was certainly a sense of “expectation”, because the most senior leadership team went through the programme together. This has created real advocacy for the learning journey and authenticity

Julie Hyett: Likewise, for us, focus on organisational strategy and on personal development have come together at the same time. We have a programme which has been transformative for the individuals and, by extension, of the culture. It was very personal experience, exploring motivation, connection and behaviour.

James Rule: It’s very impactful because, if it’s a diktat from HR, it doesn’t have the same impact as when colleagues see the top team sharing their development experiences, particularly in behavioural change, where people can see that the principles apply to everyone, regardless of office – and effecting all facets of their lives, not just at work.

John Shurmer: We have used immersive experiences and find it can be really useful, especially when we are looking at discussions around future possibilities and new areas of thinking for the organisation. Being immersed in something unfamiliar from the norm can create that shift in mindset from; conventional learning to stimulating those more reflective discussions, creating that spark and curiosity we are looking for. In using immersive approaches, I would also say it is really important to give leaders more control in the discussions, let the debate flow and provide opportunities for example like peer coaching to re-engage.

Kim Clarke: We encourage and support partners through all sorts of new techniques. For example, we invited digital start-ups to come in and talk about their businesses to encourage people to look at the process of creativity and curiosity, and then take those skills and start exploring our issues through that lens. We’ve also introduced peer group learning, which has been incredibly important.

Mark Williamson: In terms of leadership development, immersive approaches, through different experiences is so effective. People actually do want to learn from their leaders, and spending time with the people in your teams is critical as a development activity. As we move away from hierarchical to networked – more collaborative than command and control – this is key to future competitiveness.

Savvas Koufou: In many organisations, leadership development has been underinvested for more than a decade and generally it’s retrospective. The world is rapidly changing and this underdevelopment is being outed. That creates turmoil, insecurity – suddenly leaders are wondering what their role and relevance is. So there’s a lot of disruption at exec level. This is a key consideration for understanding the changes in the new workforce framework.

ARE YOU CONSIDERING HOW AI WILL IMPACT THE WAY IN WHICH YOU CURATE CONTENT?

John Shurmer: I can’t see how it won’t play a major role, with it becoming so much part of our lives on a day-to-day basis. But it’s early days so more of an emerging theme in learning for us. I can definitely see the opportunities in the potential to; personalise learning, recommend, nudge, find, support and make transactional processes easier.

James Rule: Just as Alexa kind of already knows that you need a new microwave, in work, AI is interacting, nudging and suggesting paths to choose, using basic psychology and social dynamics, to encourage people to consume. It’s incredibly powerful, perhaps a little creepy for us now… are we being conditioned?

Sarah Underhill: There’s a difference between AI for “task”, rather than AI for “role”; and we’re looking at how we can apply AI within the learning pathway, to make the experience more customisable and personalised. We also have an opportunity to support colleagues in understanding the risks and opportunities of this new, digital world – to protect their families, their own digital identities – and our customers, which will assist the transition to AI in the workplace generally, and in this context, L&D.

Melanie Lepine: We’re experimenting with AI, and first stages are looking at how our LMS system could be AI, to be able to dig deep into the data, find what we need and drive curation, so we’re on the journey.

Savvas Koufou: There are organisations using AI to curate content, and it’s hugely cutting costs on the L&D bottom line. Where AI is building, businesses have algorithms and unprecedented intelligence and, we’ve discussed curation, some have AI creation. The challenge is, how do you take that technology and then match it to the existing learning infrastructure and legacy systems? So, for most, there’s this transition, but the writing is on the wall.

HOW AGILE ARE YOUR CURRENT TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES? ARE THEY UP TO TASK, OR DO THEY NEED TO CHANGE?

Melanie Lepine: We’re relatively agile in our L&D, but compliance sticks out, sorry to revisit the “C word”, but processes are slow with multiple signoffs slowing down processes, and creating some red tape for us, that we need to find a way around or speed up on.

John Shurmer: When faced with moving the ‘big things’, agile can be a really useful way to to experiment, start small and build. We have definitely made an effort in our learning teams in this area. If we can try things out quickly and test on a small scale and receive some insight, data and direct user input on whether a new concept has potential, then this is really useful, before scaling up.

Kim Clarke: For all our learning processes, I’m optimistic that the process has become easier and smoother for line managers and for partners. I’m conscious that there’s more that we can do though. The answer is in how we exploit that technology to remove the unnecessary bureaucracy.

Sarah Underhill: Some of the new solutions that we’ve developed have been very user-focused and have been created using agile methodology, but we still have some existing solutions and there is a risk that we confuse colleagues. However, that’s a risk I’m willing to take on if, by definition, it means that colleagues are engaged with wanting to learn in the first place.

Amanda Bright: Being part of the huge global organisation that is Ford means that it takes time to drive cultural change. The diverse employee demographics means we have to consider the mindset changes required to effectively deliver change. Cultural shift is very much a journey. We are seeing positive signs, but are mindful of the need to deliver in bitesize chunks, to bring everyone with us.

Sarah Underhill: Our People Partners are really assisting the transition, as they “test” the content in a way that scrutinises minimal viable products before we’ve concluded on the “perfect” finished article. For example, in our new approach to Performance Management, every People Partner was taken offsite for the training that would later be rolled out to line managers.

James Rule: We are in the process of an HR/IT transformation to re-orchestrate HR as products. The focus is on making that experience as easy and engaging as possible. Nobody wants to put bureaucracy in the way unnecessarily, and you can avoid red tape if you democratise and promote ownership.

Savvas Koufou: Maintaining an agile mindset is key, you roll out a minimal viable product that might fall over, you roll out a leadership programme and everyone goes to the first and it taints their opinion. We’re talking about something bigger here, the perception of HR within the organisation. Bringing in agile could feel a bit incongruent with people’s perceptions of HR, which may still be seen as a control and command function. That’s changing, and it needs to.

Mark Williamson: Agile really lends itself to the development of learning, design-thinking approaches, how you develop things from a micro perspective, collaborative design, scrum type environments that you might use, and minimal viable products, for example. I do take the point in terms of how that then interfaces with the consumers of learning, because you could turn people off forever.

Melanie Lepine: If we’re really clear about who our audience is, that will inform what is our minimal viable product, so we don’t go out there with something that’s going to flop, and there is a level of expectation around what we’re providing before it’s released.

Sarah Underhill: Yes, it’s “who can we use as a “critical friend”? We’re encouraging our People Partners to become more strategic, rather than “admin” people – and so they become great sources of insight, about what the business needs and expects. It’s safe to test in the partnering community.

THE BOTTOM LINE: HOW CAN WE MAKE LEARNING SUSTAINABLE AND MORE COST EFFECTIVE?

Julie Hyett: We’ve moved beyond the ROI. I’m not saying we don’t do cost benefit analysis if it’s possible, but we’re more focused on value. We look for the change that has impacted.

John Shurmer: L&D ROI has historically been so hard to pin down that things can fizzle out. However, as we start to deliver our solutions in a digital way, we have much more data. So, to the point about sustainability, we can gain access to more information, to track whether we are being successful or not. I see working with data as one of the new learning skills that we will see growing in the industry over the coming years.

Melanie Lepine: It’s understanding where we add value, and if AI and data is informing our thinking, to really provide targeted learning consistently and minimise failure.

Kim Clarke: Agreed and the “pick-and-mix” approach will help the individual know their styles, as well as exposing them to a whole array of learning. We are talking about the cadence of the learning proposition and its organisational aims. We need it to be more than an up-skill or acquiring new knowledge.

Sarah Underhill: Lloyds is a very cost-aware organisation, so the cost effectiveness of our learning is absolutely critical. We can bulk-buy learning solutions; we’re using “free” resources like YouTube and TED Talks – and we’re also maximising the impact of the learning, by spreading its reach, always mindful of how we can make it more impactful.

James Rule: The derived value is significant – if we can help people achieve a portfolio of experiences in their career via; traditional learning, AI, being able to service up connections, gigs, job shadows, these are all part of that and it speaks as well to the gig economy, that we’re likely to see more boomerangs in future. That our learning interventions are to develop people regardless of how long they stay for, if nothing else, we are showing that we care about their development.

Amanda Bright: We’re very fortunate, living in a time when we have such fantastic opportunities to leverage things like YouTube, TED Talks to improve the scope of learning experiences and maximise cost efficiencies. If we embrace and utilise these, we can provide a more holistic approach tailored to the needs of our future leaders early in their career journeys.

John Shurmer: What’s clear is that there’s no organisation that’s not on the move and we’re facing similar challenges and opportunities to really engage our learners and add value. We are all impacted by technology in our roles and there are new skills and ways of working we are all learning. It’s just the start.

Kristy Rowlett: I never have to justify ROI, but I do have to demonstrate the impact of learning on performance and engagement. In terms of having an L&D mindset, if we recruit and develop leaders with high learning agility in the first place, role modelling provides its own momentum.

Mark Williamson: We’re in a digitally disrupted world and there is an existential mandate to be able to deliver the learning needs of the business and the regulatory bodies, in terms of compliance. So, the value, the impact and the effectiveness of that learning has to be effective and consistent.

Savvas Koufou: The ROI conversation is changing into a “value” conversation. The “impact” issue, is somewhat more complex. I’m not going to delve into Kirkpatrick, but increasingly there’s potentially a perfect storm of value for money and impact, the supporting technology and the analytics. Suddenly, the bottom line isn’t the imposing, overshadowing element.

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