Learning.africa

Why learning and development matters

An empowered employee shares his thoughts.

“The pandemic caused a reset on a lot of people’s thinking,” says Tebogo Sethabela, Analyst at 21st Century, a specialist Remuneration and Human Capital consultancy. He adds, “As a young person joining the market, I thought I’d settle into my role and become a master of it. But the pandemic made me realise that I should look at my skill set and keep growing”.

This new way of thinking about learning on the job has motivated 21st Century and other companies to reinvent the ongoing employee development journey. Here, Sethabela elaborates on his own learning journey – an integral part of the EVP (Employee Value Proposition) – and how it is opening doors for the next generation of human capital investment.

“My journey in a nutshell is that I keep learning every day,” says Sethabela. He continues, “When I joined 21st Century, I told them that I can’t do repetitive work. As an analyst, though, there is a lot of repetitive work. It is just the nature of the job. But I have been offered an opportunity to grow beyond that, because my employer recognises my potential.

“In an office environment, you hear conversations, being around more senior people and joining organic discussions. A lot of learning happened as a by-product of this. But remote working during the pandemic removed this aspect of organic learning.

“We have arrived at a place where learning needs to be more structured and intentional. As young career people, we need to be very specific and mindful of the skills we want to develop and by the same token, employers should be embracing a more defined learning approach”.

21st Century has adopted a proactive approach to the new concept of the employee learning journey. The company has dubbed their internal initiative Learning and Development Culture – a concept that merges organic interaction with intentional, structured learning, adding value for employees in that it has the capacity, not only to grow them as staff members for the company, but also beyond internal development and into roles that make them more employable – even in other companies. This new, forward-thinking approach is part of the greater EVP (Employee Value Proposition), which is geared towards making companies employers of choice.

Sethabela adds, “Learning and development is intentional both ways. The learning journey is structured based on both on employees’ needs and wants, and buy-in from management, who encourage the employees to upskill themselves for mutual benefit.

“Senior level gives strategic input as they drive the process and engineer it. From a personal point of view, this was an opportunity to being in my passion and knowledge to life and I have now started on the data side of the business, rather than just analysis. My skill set led me on this trajectory.

“I’ve been picking up skills as a data analyst and learning from the Director, Bryden Morton. I am doing a Udemy course online and my courses equal about 24 hours. The learning is intentional, and often done after hours, and with the help of management, the journey is mapped out. I'm able now to take on different types of projects and grow horizontally, which will lead to better positions. Having that mapped out for me encourages me as an employee because my employer sees value in me and gives me an opportunity to grow myself.

“21st Century is my first employer and I'm enjoying every moment of it, and I hope to pay it forward. We always have an intern in our Analysis Department, and I can pass on skill sets and show them what did and what didn't work for me”.

Sethabela concludes, “Nobody is afraid of sharing information and knowledge in the current climate. And we're not as competitive or cut-throat as previous generations. We want the best for the company and for ourselves”.

Learning, development and culture are no longer just buzzwords. In the pandemic-swept world, they are becoming part of the new standard in cultivating a workable and sustainable Employee Value Proposition. If case studies such as Tebogo Sethabela’s are to be considered, the new proposition is working, and is likely to lead to better staff retention with two-way value in play – both for the employer and the employee.
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