Christina Wong is the Global Executive Development Strategist at Google.
Christina joined Google's HR organisation in 2014 after previous careers in academic teaching and HR consultancy. Since then, she has played many active roles from Adwords product training, manager/leadership development, organisational development, and learning operations.
Originally from Canada, Christina has spent the majority of her career in the APAC region in Japan, Greater China, and now Singapore.
In this exclusive interview with People Matters, Christina talks about the evolution of a diverse microlearning landscape across APAC, the essentials of a great hybrid learning experience and the one thing that is making talent stay with their organisations today.
How has the learning and development function evolved in the past two years?
The pandemic definitely shocked the L&D system on how we used to develop content and deliver, to where it is now. Two areas where it has evolved are:
- Shift to a hybrid model. Prior to the pandemic, many organisations were relying on the traditional methods of learning such as classroom face to face learning.
These traditional methods of L&D have actually dialed down drastically in the past 2 years for a few reasons. People don't have the same amount of time that they used to. Instead, time is a lot more fragmented. We still have some of the trainings that are facilitator-led, that remain in a virtual format. But outside of that, we're seeing more options of learning becoming available, such as coaching, just-in-time learning, learning through articles/ emails. Hybrid means our employees are achieving learning through a more diverse range of options. These learnings are also becoming more bite-sized, so people can take it in and have more control over when and what topic they want to learn.
- Investment in technology. We've always invested in technology being a global company with our employees around the world. However, it wasn't until in the last two years, where we realised that more focus in technology is required to make hybrid learning truly effective. In order to achieve ideal user experience and optimal metrics measurement, we have been rethinking our needs and the technology ecosystem in place, and have been experimenting with new technology platforms for innovation at an even faster pace compared to before.
What are some key essentials to shaping learning experiences for today's diverse and distributed workforce?
Right now, learning is not only virtual - learning needs to be hybrid. We're already seeing a lot of screen fatigue that our employees tell us. They can't stare at a screen for a full-day virtual training and it’s just not sticking. Knowing this, being able to offer people what they need, when they need, in the format they need, this is probably one of the key essentials. You can call it just-in-time learning or microlearning, and there are many companies across the industries experimenting with this nowadays to find the appropriate hybrid learning formula for their needs.
Growth opportunities are a critical factor in influencing talent to stay with or exit an organisation. How do you see the role of learning in tackling the ongoing talent crisis?
First of all, our employees have told us the importance of learning through peer communities, and how that has helped them to find a sense of belonging despite all the ongoing distractions. Our L&D team invests in nurturing organic platforms to encourage our employees to build learning communities themselves. When they resonate and grow together with other members of the organisation, they can better hold each other accountable along the journey, and the chances for them to stick through this period to stay becomes higher.
Furthermore, we also invest in building the capabilities of tomorrow and make sure this does not get deprioritized even when today’s needs may already feel overwhelming. Talents want to continue to grow and stay on top of the market, so it’s important that they feel the firm’s investment in them, and we are growing them to be ready for future needs.
How is the concept of microlearning changing the learning landscape across APAC?
Previously, a lot of microlearning was simply just talking about taking a larger program, and breaking it into smaller chunks of content for learners to absorb. Nowadays, microlearning has become a lot more creative or innovative compared to the traditional image.
While we are still talking about smaller chunks of content, we're seeing them being presented in a more diverse range offormats. Traditional methods of microlearning are still there, but we're also seeing a lot of microlearnings happen through channels like anarticle, podcast, or even leaders doing All Hands meetings to share a post-mortem of a failure that the team went through recently.
People realise longer sessions of learning are becoming harder and harder to sticky with people, and also how challenging it is to bringing people together in a room for a full-day learning. Given this, leaders are becoming a lot more creative in finding these pockets of three to five minutes or even 15 minutes where they can reach out to their workforce and share different learning opportunities.
We're now seeing leaders actually unconsciously providing these microlearning moments without realising they are microlearning moments. It's a good trend that learning is blending in more seamlessly as part of our everyday work.
What are your top three learning priorities for 2022?
General capabilities to support our employees at scale in areas that are essential for our organizations to thrive. These key capabilities include well-being, resilience, transitioning back to the office, hybrid work capabilities, and collaboration to name a few.
Focusing on leadership and management capability. We know in order for an organisation to scale with the fast-growing speed that we have, we need to have very strong managers and senior leaders. We have worked on this for many years and it will continue to be our learning priority for 2022 to support both new and experienced leaders to excel in different managerial and leadership focus areas.
Developing and retaining critical talent. As mentioned in the earlier question, ensuring we are investing in critical talent remains to be a priority for us. We will continue to partner with business leaders to identify the critical talents and make sure that they can continue to grow and stay with our organisation.
Want to hear more from Christina on shaping effective hybrid learning experiences? Listen to Christina talk about ‘Google's experience with Learning in a Hybrid Workplace’ only at People Matters L&D Conference APAC 2022.