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HR Learn In - Dubai’s Center of Excellence for Reinvented Continuing HR Learning and Development

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

Covid-19 did not only disrupt our personal and work lives, it also changed the way we learn as face-to-face attendance at workshops and conferences came to a complete halt. The prevailing business model of most of the providers of continuing professional HR education was based on learners gathering at conferences, day-long workshops, and an intense few days away from the job—often in an attractive location supplemented with social activities for networking and entertainment. The pandemic disrupted that business model and required an increasing digitization of instructional delivery. Most of the traditional HR professional education providers were not ready to deliver their content that way on short notice. One notable exception is HR Learn In! 

For the past 12 weeks (April 22-June 22, 2020), I have participated in an exciting HR learning experience both as a presenter, mentor and learner offered through HR Learn In broadcasted weekly to a worldwide audience from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The series is the brainchild of Brad Boyson and his co-founder Fahad Khalaf. The formula is simple: each Wednesday at a strategically selected time to attract a world audience, a speaker—a seasoned HR practitioner, consultant or academic with special go-to-expertise and subject matter strength—presents an HR topic in Webinar format followed by a more in-depth discussion among a group of mentors the Monday thereafter. Learners can follow the Webinar presentation either synchronously or a-synchronously and submit questions for the follow-up discussion with the speakers and mentors. After completing the series including a follow-up assessment, learners qualify for a badge! Did I mention that these sessions are open and free to anyone around the world upon registration and that speakers/mentors volunteer their expertise pro bono. Let me summarize the richness of the topics presented in this first HR Learn In series and connect the dots between them.

The first series of HR Learn In topics

Brad Boyson, introduced the series and focused on the importance of adhering to internal HR standards (Module 1). Sallyann Della Casa focused on upskilling to change behavior and impact performance and presented a five-step roadmap to successful upskilling (Module 2). Dorothy Dalton focused on nudges to recruit and manage a remote work team ensuring diversity, inclusion and gender balance (Module 3). Lisbeth Claus asked the question, ‘Is talent management passé?’ and presented the five anchors of a new Dynamic Open Talent approach fit for the new world of work (Module 4). Fahad Khalaf focused on workforce engagement and elaborated on eight categories of engagement factors that are the motivational drivers of people at work (Module 5). Paul Lalovich focused on the need for scenario-based strategic workforce planning in an era when digital transformation of HR in the workplace is inevitable (Module 6). Ron Thomas elaborated on the changing expectations of the workforce and the need for HR leadership in a time of crisis (Module7). Marco Blankenburg focused on the need for cultural agility using the three colors of worldviews to gain a better understanding of the intercultural challenges and opportunities in an increasingly virtual workplace (Module 8). Rehan Khan focused on the pitfalls of multitasking and task switching and urged us to minimize distractions and get work done by focusing on deep rather than shallow work (Module 9). Sam Neo helped us supercharge our personal brand with social media—and especially our use of LinkedIn—by developing a personal brand action plan based on value, interest, strength and aspiration (Module 10). Sandrine Bardot made the case for the gig economy as a supplement to the traditional employee workforce and provided steps to enter the freelance market successfully (Module 11). Ali Draycott helped us look into the future workplace and the need to develop well-managed preferred scenarios rather than simply responsive ones (Module 12).

Connecting the dots! 

In spite of a diverse set of subjects, it was easy to connect the dots. Obviously, as this event started shortly after the lockdown, the subject matter and ensuing HR questions always gravitated toward the ‘new’ (post) pandemic reality. For many of the participants, the regularity of the Monday-Wednesday sessions provided an escape and a focus on self-care through learning. Each session, acknowledge the disruption brought about by the pandemic, the new reality of the workplace and HR’s role in the change process. The diverse content—sometimes contradictory—highlighted that HR and our companies operate in an ecosystem and that—around the world—HR faces both similar and dissimilar challenges and opportunities. Increasingly, HR needs to make people management decisions under uncertainty. This requires us to keep on learning, planning different short, intermediate and long-term scenarios, and be agile enough to manage that uncertainty. While the digitization of many HR processes is inevitable, the HR Learn In series also made us aware of the human importance of HR and listening to the needs of our workforce. What story will you tell on how your company and your HR department dealt with Covid-19?

What’s next?

Brad and Fahad are already planning a new and improved 2.0 version of HR Learn In after giving learners a short summer short break. I recommend that the new set of speakers and mentors have a completely different set of strengths to deal with diverse topics to augment the traditional HR body of knowledge. Many topics cone to mind such as agile HR, design thinking, HR analytics, compensation modelling, A/B testing, DIBs (diversity, inclusion and support), HR digitization, distributed workforces, reinvented performance management, fluid learning & development, managing remote work from home, the new social contract, business travel duty of care, etc.

Interested in being part of this innovative series of HR Learn In, contact Brad at:

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