The global pandemic has wrought dramatic changes on the way we work. New hires, remote and hybrid working, and furloughed workers not returning have created new pressures. L&D, in particular, are faced with the changing learning needs brought about by these developments. Although much of the upheaval of the pandemic will ultimately stabilise, many of the changes are here to stay. As a result, L&D professionals need to consider how they can continue to provide the training necessary to enable an ever-changing workforce to do their jobs efficiently.
As lower skilled roles are replaced with tech, and staff are expected to take on additional responsibilities, reskilling and upskilling are more important than ever. Here we look at how L&D can develop the kind of learning plans that will keep them ahead of the curve.
Provide instant access to learning
Traditional classroom-based courses have been the preferred method of delivering training courses for decades. They allow delegates to get away from their desks and focus on learning. They mean that delegates can easily interact with others. More importantly, delegates can get immediate clarification on points they don’t understand. At the same time, course leaders can identify and address areas where delegates need extra support. Although traditional training methods offer clear benefits, online learning is becoming increasingly common and with good reason.
Online learning offers huge flexibility for workers and takes some of the pressure away from L&D teams who are faced with the prospect of frequent intakes of new staff. Online learning is less reliant on the classroom and suits a more blended approach. So, while certain elements of a person’s training are best delivered face-to-face, the learning journey could also include online resources and knowledge sharing.
Online learning gives staff the opportunity to begin training from the moment they need it. A good platform will offer them useful texts, video presentations, and quizzes. In addition, users can access the training at convenient times for instance during quiet spells, or breaks. Depending on the platform, users may also be able to access it via their own devices so that they can do training from home or during their commute to or from work.
New hires and existing staff can benefit equally from this kind of technology. Just as new recruits can be learning about the organisation and the basics of their role, existing staff can be learning how to undertake new tasks. This is especially beneficial in organisations where lower skilled roles are being replaced with tech. It means that those workers can be upskilled to take on new roles with minimal intervention from L&D.
Create Processes for Onboarding
While L&D plays an important role throughout the careers of all workers, the first few weeks of employment, possibly make the greatest demand on L&D’s time. If new hires are joining the organisation frequently, the pressure on L&D can be immense. Not only do new hires need employment documentation, but they also need to be introduced to their immediate colleagues as well as the ones they’re most likely to work with in other departments. On top of that, they need to be trained in their new role. That all takes up L&D’s valuable time and meanwhile, the new hire isn’t getting any real work done.
Therefore, it is important to set up systems that enable onboarding with minimal intervention from L&D.
For example, as soon as a new hire has accepted an employment offer, the organisation could either email them the company handbook, or provide access to online information. In this way, they can learn more about the company and the basics of their role giving them a head start before their first day.
In addition, you can ask all employees to create manuals describing how to carry out their jobs. They can post these on the company ethernet or any online location that is easily accessible by all staff. In this way, new hires have training materials to refer to which reduces the need of having to ask for help from busy colleagues.
Offer learning in manageable chunks
On traditional courses, tutors deliver large amounts of information over a day or two. This can make it difficult for delegates to digest and retain that information. To compound the problem, if delegates cannot immediately apply what they have learned to real life, they will quickly forget. For some, training in small chunks of an hour or two means that delegates can absorb information more readily. Moreover, if they are doing the training at their desks, they can apply their new-found knowledge to their work immediately.
L&D must adapt to the new normal
The heroic facilitators of all these changes are undoubtedly L&D professionals. Whereas in the past their main function was to manage learning programmes and source training courses, L&D now has a major role in workforce transformation. Designing and delivering learning experiences and bringing learning into the flow of work are fast becoming everyday responsibilities of L&D. Organisations must recognise however, that while L&D professionals are helping the rest of the workforce adjust, they too need to develop new skills. They need to learn about sourcing quality content. They may benefit from training in establishing connections and communities. Learning the effective use of data and analytics can also keep the modern L&D professional relevant in a changing world.
Perhaps more important than any of these upskilling needs is in learning about forthcoming technologies. L&D professionals will be responsible for integrating learning into the workflow, and that will involve curating content. However, it will soon no longer be possible to curate content manually, and L& D will need to work with new technology that analyses data and delivers solutions exactly when needed. L&D teams are already experimenting with these new technologies and widespread uptake is imminent.
The global pandemic has led to rapidly changing learning needs across the workforce, and L&D teams are faced with the difficult task of keeping abreast of changes and adjusting learning provisions accordingly.
Online learning means more than simply transferring the classroom to Zoom, although that and similar methods can be successful. Some training providers are also converting their courses into videos that participants can view at their own convenience. You can include online message boards and chat rooms so that participants can discuss what they are learning.
Although a shift to online training was already under way, covid has accelerated that transformation. While some training providers have already been offering online learning for several years, it is now demanded by course participants.
The result of all this is that the roles traditionally associated with L&D teams such as face-to-face trainer or facilitator are becoming less relevant while it is becoming common for organisations to populate their L&D departments with digital asset creators, community manager, and content curators.
Article writing by Bruce Barbour
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