Pandemic | Is L&D Ready for “The New Learning Era”?

Is L&D Ready for “The New Learning Era”?
Is L&D Ready for “The New Learning Era”?

We’ve all been hit hard by this pandemic in both our personal and professional lives.

Some governments chose to lockdown their communities, which has been a difficult experience for us, our families, and our organizations. Adjusting to our digital “home offices” was the only option to continue working, and despite many challenges we’ve started to see several advantages: no commutes, determining our own pace, and shorter, more efficient remote meetings.

Early lessons from these turbulent times indicate that:

  • This crisis is further driving digital transformation.

  • We can commit to making the digital workplace thrive.

  • Travel and events look to be limited or postponed for a longer period of time.

  • Online meetings lack the warmth of in-person meetings, but surprisingly have also given us more insights into the personal lives of the people we connect to.

In addition to influencing the way we live, work and connect, this crisis has also impacted the way we learn. Digital learning in its most general sense has all but replaced classroom training, as employees are now accessing learning from home. If remote working is here to stay, digital learning will become a bigger and more critical part of the corporate digital learning offer. This is reinforced by broader initiatives from leading companies like Novartis, who is offering content to parents to teach at home.

Short-term impact on L&D

L&D has been in crisis-response mode since March, as L&D teams were suddenly forced to work from home. We reached out to our network of L&D leaders to ask them three questions, in order to understand their mind-set and current areas of focus. The first question relates to their current state of mind, and the overview shows a mix of emotions, with most leaning towards the negative which is not entirely unexpected.

The second question focuses on the impact of the crisis specifically on the L&D offer, and most responses confirm what we’ve been reading in L&D blogs and articles in recent weeks: that the face-to-face (F2F) learning offer in all organizations was stopped within 24h, and L&D is now either converting their offer into online formats or waiting for the post-crisis era to determine how to proceed. Many experts, however, indicate that F2F learning formats will not return soon, influenced by travel restrictions and the understandable anxiety of spending time with bigger groups.

The final question explored which new activities L&D has prioritized based on crisis needs. Four areas were highlighted by L&D leaders as new priorities and validated by senior leaders in their organizations:

  • support the workforce to work remotely

  • provide an online offer for staff health and wellbeing

  • develop leaders to take the reins in times of crisis – empathy, leading remotely, etc.

  • reskill target groups, for example reskilling airline stewards for healthcare roles

It is amazing to see how well organizations have managed to transition their learning offer, in terms of their content and (online) methodology. L&D professionals have shown great resilience and creativity by pulling together new digital programs for their workforce colleagues in a short time span. All the while they had to deal with new remote-working challenges, like dealing with uncertainty, staying healthy, home-schooling children, finding the best home office environment, and staying connected through digital tools.

For this short-term offer the delivery channel is purely digital, including virtual classroom sessions, with focus on access and speed rather than perfection in curricula. The use of digital communication tools in the learning process, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex, has exploded. Development processes have been simplified and L&D response teams have provided much-needed remote working and wellbeing programs. The main challenge in the first weeks of this transition was that most employees were not in “learning mode” at all.

To find out the 4 priority areas and medium & longer-term perspectives for L&D, click here or click the button below...

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