Human Resource Development: Literature Review

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Introduction

Generally, HR development consists of activities related to improving the skills and knowledge of employees. Such programs held by organizations’ HR department include mentoring, coaching, performance development, career development, and employee training. The human resources industry currently undergoes digital transformation caused by technological advancements changing the way data collected and analyzed (O’Connor, 2020). Covid-19 pandemic intensified this transformation and brought new training and education strategies to the forefront. Online learning became more popular and generally expected to substitute traditional education if needed. On the contrary, some researchers found that students show inferior academic achievements studying in the online environment than in the conventional classroom (Broadbent & Poon, 2015). The literature review examines current HR challenges, the improvement of adult learning theory, and its strategies. Additionally, it illustrates how technologies and IT innovations impact HR development, self-centered online education, and skill development.

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HR Management: Current Challenges

Efficient management of resources always brings an advantage. A well-organized HR strategy may lead to decreased turnover, talent retention, job satisfaction, improved performance, and competitive advantage for employers (Bonache-Pérez & Cabrera-Izquierdo, 2002). HR management helps organizations build and train individuals and work teams who efficiently operate in a sound and friendly environment. HR currently changes due to the unfolding socio-economic crisis, the new trends prevalence, and technological development. According to Andrus et al. (2020), the traditional notions that people are fungible, jobs are predictable, and outcomes are stable are no longer hold for future uncertainties. On the contrary, Deloitte believes that human capital is on the forefront, while workers’ motivation and skills are the leading drivers of performance.

Moreover, business organizations evolved into social enterprises, whereas jobs become more fluid and dynamic, requiring broader individual capabilities and team networking. Today employees should be perceived as unique individuals with valuable attitudes, thoughts, values, and experiences. In general, HR tends to organize work in small teams, incorporate flexible and diverse learning models, deals with talent acquisition, and strives to improve employees’ experience and job satisfaction (Gamelearn Team, 2017). Firms are looking for fair appraisal models, younger leaders, ways to conduct HR in a digital form and apply big data to make decisions on promotion and recruitment.

Furthermore, companies try to balance automation and HR, not forgetting to support diversity among workers. Lulla (2019) agrees that AI technology and robotics will not substitute the human workforce; however, it is going to optimize HR management even of small and medium-sized enterprises. The software platform gathering and evaluating employees’ performance may notify managers about progress issues some workers face. It saves time for managers, provides equal benchmarking, and enhances course correction procedures. Similar systems can be applied for automated onboarding and offboarding functions. Automation’s practical applications improve transparency, communication, and minimize human error/ambiguity (Martinez, 2019). In general, modern HR departments are focused on the process automation, attraction/retention of talent experts in IT, and undergo digital transformation.

The Motivation and Adult Learning

Every modern organization has to bear in mind the importance of individual encouragement (desire to exile), as adults usually have different goals, objectives, and motivations for advanced education. Andragogy and self-directing learning are the main theories covered in the literature that focus on the individual teaching approach. Researchers see adult learning as a learner-centered activity that requires the identification and addressing of individual differences. Such concepts as learning-how-to-learn and real-life-learning accompanied by various strategies help the learning facilitators to apply the mentioned theories. Bear (2012) categorized adult students into six groups in line with their specific traits (descriptors): engagers, navigators, problem solvers, storytellers, strivers, and stimulants. All of them have personal characteristics that influence their self-motivation, efforts, learning strategies they choose, and readiness to embrace modern technology. Hence, providers of adult learning should identify and respect these differences to improve the service.

The cognitive area of problem-solving, thinking and remembering may have different educational outcomes. Such results depend on the curriculum maker’s objectives and goals, clarity, and alignment with students’ ones. The taxonomy introduced by Bloom (1969) is a helpful framework to compare and develop appropriate instructional programs. This classification of educational outcomes gives precise definitions to such vague notions as “grasp the core of essence” or “really understands” and categorizes changes produced in students as a result of specific educational experiences (Bloom, 1969). Clear objectives, goals, and anticipated outcomes render greater understanding and motivation of learners. Bloom’s taxonomy revision by Anderson et al. (2001) saw it as two-dimensional concerning interrelationships between knowledge and cognitive process. The table helps address the learning questions, create a plan of instruction, design assessment procedures and instruments, and align all these elements. Similarly, Nordengren (2019) suggests applying goal-setting practices in education to set reasonable and clear goals for improvement, specific outcomes, and academic challenges. He also insists on students’ involvement in the goalsetting procedure and further monitoring of their own performance.

The tasks that give individuals autonomy or control, raise their interest, allows them to build on competency, and improve the perception of their own abilities drive learning. This personalized education, which requires goal discussion, setting new ones, and a specific learning path to meet them, is strongly associated with learners’ higher involvement. Alario-Hoyos et al. (2017) also found that motivation is an essential factor in self-regulated learning. What is more, intrinsic motivation (enjoyment, inherent satisfaction) has a stronger impact on students’ learning attitudes and achievements than extrinsic ones (task value, usefulness). Online courses proved that collaborative learning and gamification are great strategies to increase learner’s intrinsic motivation. Motivation in classroom contexts can be monitored and assessed using such instruments as the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and its modified versions.

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HR Development: Learning Strategies

Next, the literature on training and learning strategies would be presented and discussed. Reilly (1998) identified three critical approaches to organizational learning: management training (leveling out individual differences), management development (legitimizing individual differences), organization development (changing culture). The literature on andragogy and taxonomy provides similar ideas on conventional adult learning, helping educators establish proper curriculums and instructions.

Nevertheless, more recent papers address e-learning approaches that were significantly popularized during the Covid-19 upheaval. Pappas (2014) makes tips for educators based on the principles of andragogy. According to him, the theory is still applicable and useful even though the learning tools have changed. Autonomy, meaningful reasons behind learning, real-life application of acquired knowledge are still the main drivers of adult learning. Other authors (Lynch, 2020) present unstructured learning, a student-led educational process outside the classroom settings, as the future of education. However, it seems to be more applicable for children and teenagers instead of adults. The collaborative program discussed by Tibbetts and Hector-Mason (2015) is beneficial for students’ professional development as it provides a great supporting environment and develops a variety of skills. Hodges et al. (2020) believe that online learning has the capacity to outperform the traditional face-to-face approach and works as a learning community supporting students. On the contrary, Comyn (2020) believes that distance learning cannot substitute standard educational methods in the long run, especially regarding TVET and skill development. In general, the literature on modern learning strategies discusses approaches that embed technology to foster collaboration between students and active learning, whereas the teacher’s role shifts more towards mentorship.

Covid-19: Implications for Education

The lockdown has intensified the already formed tendency toward strategies that embrace digital and social media tools. Unesco (2020), together with García and Weiss (2020), describe the main challenges brought up by education disruption and rapid shift towards digital education. The main issues remain the absence of necessary tools, student absenteeism, and inferior monitoring of academic success. These problems are less applicable to adult learners because they are more motivated and usually have Internet access and possess laptops or other devices. Reimers et al. (2020) also see the momentum for rapid transformation of educational systems and suggest three types of needed resources. The list includes curriculum (repositories of learning modules, lessons, videos), professional development resources (improving skills to learn and teach remotely), and tools (learning management systems and communication services). The majority of articles agree on the negative impact of coronavirus pandemic; however, they usually look forward with certainty. Reimagination and resilience of the education system may see digital learning outperforming the conventional face-to-face approach.

Innovation and Technology Use

The main goal of innovation in education is to improve the educational system’s cost/time efficiency and make learning more productive. Serdyukov (2017) believes that common culture should support innovative education to use it efficiently. The modern educational system (stakeholders, tools, structures) should contribute to students’ creativity, critical thinking, and autonomy. The main educational innovations are related to wise incorporation of social media and networking, online communication tools, virtual classrooms, and AI/VR technologies. The Internet connection and distance learning software such as Google Classroom, Coursera, and Khan Academy allows learning to happen anytime and anywhere. For instance, Skyring (2014) found that educators engaged in microblogging exchange their experience, sufficient instructions, and ideas with their colleagues that positively contribute to their professional learning. In their turn, Fua and Hwang (2018) discuss the increasing mobile technology use in education, especially in terms of collaborative learning strategy. Such devices make possible learners’ communication and work in pairs/groups, even if they are physically too far from each other.

Conclusion

To conclude, the increased focus was placed on research surrounding learning instructions, taxonomy, and comparison between andragogy and pedagogy. The review shows that different organizations currently value human capital, whereas HR development is appreciated by employees and leads to their jobs and skill development (Andrus et al., 2020). Although Covid-19 caused education disruption, it also intensified technology use in learning, especially online courses, and remote learning. Modern strategies, including gamification, collaborative, and unstructured learning, together with digital tools, may lead to positive academic achievements. The research also showed that adult learners are more motivated to study and need the only mentorship; thus, e-learning is more applicable to them. The majority of authors agree that adults have many differences (motivation, goals) that should be addressed individually within instructions and curriculum. The lack of comprehensive studies regarding online learning strategies that can be successfully applied in HR development has been spotted.

References

Alario-Hoyos, C., Estévez-Ayres, I., Pérez-Sanagustín, M., Delgado Kloos, C., & Fernández-Panadero, C. (2017, May). Understanding learners’ motivation and learning strategies in MOOCs. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3), 199-137. Web.

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. Longman.

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Andrus, G., Bridge, B. & Main, A. (2020). The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward. Deloitte Insights. Web.

Bear, A. A. (2012). Technology, learning, and individual differences. Journal of Adult Education, 41(2), 27-42.

Bloom, B. S. (1969). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, Cognitive domain. McKay.

Bonache-Pérez, J. & Cabrera-Izquierdo, A. (2002). Recursos humanos y ventaja competitiva [Human resources and competitive advantage]. In Dirección estratégica de personas: evidencias y perspectivas para el siglo XXI [Strategic direction of people: evidence and perspectives for the 21st century] (pp. 3-26). Pearson Educación.

Broadbent, J., & Poon, W. L. (2015). Self-regulated learning strategies & academic achievement in online higher education learning environments: A systematic review. The Internet and Higher Education, 27(1), 1-13. Web.

Comyn, P. (2020). TVET and skills development in the time of Covid-19. World Education Blog. Web.

Fua, Q-E. & Hwang, G-E. (2018). Trends in mobile technology-supported collaborative learning: A systematic review of journal publications from 2007 to 2016. Computers & Education, 119(1), 129-143. Web.

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Gamelearn Team (2017). 10 trends that will shape the future of human resources. Game Learn. Web.

García, E. & Weiss, E. (2020). COVID-19 and student performance, equity, and U.S. education policy. Lessons from pre-pandemic research to inform relief, recovery, and rebuilding. Economic Policy Institute. Web.

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T. & Bond, A. (2020). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause. Web. 

Lulla, A. (2019). Three ways automation will transform HR in 2020. Forbes. Web.

Lynch, M. (2020). The future of education is unstructured learning, and here’s why. The Advocate. Web. 

Martinez, R. (2019). 7 Inspiring HR trends for 2020. Atrivity. Web.

Nordengren, C. (2019). Goal-setting practices that support a learning culture. Kappan Phi-Delta. Web.

O’Connor, S. W. (2020). What is digital HR? How technology is changing the field. Northeastern University. Web.

Pappas, C. (2014). 9 tips to apply adult learning theory to eLearning. eLearning industry. Web.

Reilly, A. J. (1998). Three approaches to organizational learning (2ed ed.). The Pfeiffer Library.

Reimers, F., Schleicher, A., Saavaedra, J. & Tuominen, S. (2020). Supporting the continuation of teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. OECD. Web.

Serdyukov, P. (2017). Innovation in education: what works, what doesn’t, and what to do about it? Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, 10(1), 4-33. Web.

Skyring, C. (2014). Learning in 140 characters: microblogging for professional learning (PhD Thesis). Queensland University of Technology.

Tibbetts, J., & Hector-Mason, A. (2015). Collaboration in adult education: Utilizing practices that reflect 21st-century learning contexts (Research Brief). California Department of Education. Web. 

UNESCO (2020). Policy Brief: Education during COVID-19 and beyond. Web.

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