In a remote-everything world, the road to sustainable digital transformation begins with engaged employees

By Melanie Cook, Managing Director of Hyper Island, APAC

What we do today makes our tomorrow. 

At Hyper Island, we are navigating through COVID-19, because of the strategic foundations that we put in place last year. Jogging has turned into sprinting, but we’ve embraced the process. I jest that we are not only changing the wheels while driving, but we are changing the chassis, engine and gearbox too. 

Similarly, leaders of learning have the enormous challenge of helping employees to work, bond and learn remotely, within the limitation of necessarily stringent technology security protocols.

EngageRocket’s ‘Employee Engagement Research’ shows that more than three out of five people in Singapore are happy to work from home for some of the week moving forward. 

This clearly indicates that our new way of working looks like it is going to be our status quo. 

Embracing the next normal in the way we learn

Online learning has a bad reputation. 

Often the root problem is that the engagement and completion rates of today’s mass learning solutions leave much to be desired. 

People, unfortunately, imagine lonely hours staring at a screen, listening to a lecturer talking through slide after slide. Some may have stretched to a collaborative whiteboard, but that is probably as far as any interaction goes. 

Challenged by the leadership at a leading life insurer – AIA Singapore, Hyper Island set out to change that narrative.  

We applied human-centred design in the social space to bring to life our pedagogy of learning-by-doing, leading to the creation of ‘The Digital Ei8ht Programme’. The Programme was designed to inculcate business agility, experimentation, self-leadership and team development. 

Live-learning sessions included individual and group problem solving, remote prototyping, reflection, as well as the foundational theory. Digital Ei8ht turned current online teaching practices and metrics on its head.

We orchestrated an engaging online learning experience that is creative, hands-on, social and personal for over 1,000 employees split across 143 teams. 

Throughout, we achieved 69% engagement rate versus the low industry average of between 5% to 15%, more commonly associated with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). 

Better yet, 62% of the learners had formed new habits resulting in a digitally-enabled learning organisation. 3,400 new ideas have since flourished, 19 prototypes are in testing now, and currently cross-functional teams regularly work together to solve problems.

Using technology to have the greatest impact for learners

Hyper Island desires to make learning relevant and integrated in an individual’s life and work to enable growth and change. They understood that change most often happens through the adjustment of habits rather than knowledge or processes. 

Centrally orchestrated by an agile, fluid, tech-powered team behind the scenes, Hyper Island invariably ensured that learners remain engaged throughout. Clearly, not your typical training – it is part learning journey, part innovation lab, and all gamified learning.

The format is an immersive experience for learners that want to take a learning-by-doing approach to their own development. And with support from peers and guidance from Hyper Island’s experts, research, results and outcomes were significant and impactful.

In fact, Hyper Island has proven that learning online can be creative, hands-on, social and personal – just as much as – and sometimes even more than – face-to-face experiences. The key is to apply mindsets, techniques and technology that unlock the full potential for learners in the digital space.

A deep dive into the learning experience

As a result, an active environment for employees to widely share knowledge within the organisation was born. New concepts and ideas started to flourish, and cross-functional teams interacted with greater regularity to solve problems.

Digital Ei8ht has 20 hours of online training and assessments over eight weeks which include:

  • on-the-job, real-time learning and practice;
  • a learning community that leveraged Workplace by Facebook and MS Teams platforms to tackle tasks together;
  • the integration of Hyper Island’s proprietary chatbot facilitator that tracked engagement levels, collected submissions and nudged learners to do more; 
  • gamification, so learners are extrinsically motivated through healthy team competition;
  • tools and techniques that support distributed work and builds trust within the teams who are not physically together;
  • leadership training and intervention where AIA leadership also learned to role-model, support and challenge learners throughout the journey. 

The Programme successfully started a movement within AIA Singapore, building on their culture of experimentation to pursue a differentiated approach for digital transformation – by investing in its people first and foremost. 

Making transformation immediate, impactful and focused

Hyper Island has changed AIA Singapore’s business model to meet their clients’ and learners’ ever-changing needs in a remote-everything world. AIA Singapore started this journey with us in 2019, and the digital transformation foundations we laid last year are bearing fruit this year.

Amid Covid-19, AIA Singapore has built a digitally-enabled company to empower healthier, longer, better lives from the ground up through its people. Their readiness to embrace innovation and agility to weather the storm will put them on firm standing to excel this year. 

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