We’re finally coming out of survival mode. (Well, kind of.) It’s been a rough year for many companies, and now that the end is finally in sight, it’s time to start making moves toward a new kind of normal. One thing is clear: it won’t look like before.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing shutdowns and economic crisis weren’t just economic blips. They were an inflection point that forced companies to thoroughly re-examine how they approach their business, employees, and employee training programs. HR and L&D departments, in particular, need to evaluate how to help employees learn and grow in this new environment.
We are looking at a permanent shift in the way people prefer to work and learn. To keep up with this change, learning managers need to create web-based training programs that are flexible, collaborative, and empowering for employees.
It’s time to start making moves toward a new kind of normal. One thing is clear: it won’t look like before.
In 2021, some organizations will return to in-person work, while many others will choose to remain remote. Whether workers return to the office or not, L&D’s emphasis going forward should be remote learning opportunities.
The trend toward distributed work was already gaining steam before COVID-19 put it into overdrive. Collectively, we all discovered that many jobs actually could be performed from home. A study by Gartner shows that 82% of company leaders intend to let employees continue to work remotely at least part of the time, and 47% are open to allowing employees to stay fully remote moving forward. Over 40% are at least amenable to the idea of flex days or flex hours. The days of a body in every seat at the office are waning fast.
All of this points to the importance of remote learning programs. Increasing flexible hours and locations means that employees are less likely than ever to be physically in the same room. Web-based training is the easiest and most efficient way to ensure that everyone has access to the same high-quality training materials.
By shifting the focus of training programs from in-person to online, distributed learning offers employees the flexibility to work training into their busy schedules. This is particularly useful for workers with flexible hours or unusual schedules or those who might have children quarantined at home with them. Workers who can choose when and where they learn are far more likely to complete their assigned training.
Web-based training is also lockdown-proof. Nobody predicted the sudden scramble to remote work that COVID-19 caused, but now we know that it can happen and could happen again. This time, L&D teams had to scramble to get information out to employees. Next time, we could be prepared by already having a remote learning structure in place.
This time, L&D teams had to scramble to get information out to employees. Next time, we could be prepared by already having a remote learning structure in place.
After being locked inside for nearly a year, we’ve all significantly increased our already sky-high screen time, both in professional and personal settings. In this saturated ‘attention economy,’ any online experience — especially online learning — needs to stand out.
Training, which requires deep focus to be truly useful, competes for headspace with social media, YouTube, and Spotify. If you can’t hold an employee’s attention, it doesn’t matter how great your training is — it won’t be effective. In order to compete with this myriad of online distractions, web-based training programs must incorporate collaborative, social elements.
Some companies turn to flashy “Netflix of learning” solutions in a bid to compete with online distractions. These LXPs package learning content in an attractive, Netflix-style interface. They look great, but they generally don’t fulfill their promise of capturing employees’ enthusiasm. They can’t — because the problem isn’t your learning content or the package it comes in; it's the fact that it lacks that reassuring feeling of community we get from social media and that we don’t get from most LMSs.
Collaborative Learning, on the other hand, can help you recapture your share of employees’ attention. In a Collaborative Learning setting, employees learn from and with one another. This interactive environment brings a sense of community to your web-based training programs, and makes them more interactive, relevant, and engaging.
Collaborative Learning has been scientifically shown to boost engagement, and the numbers bear that out. Consider: the average course completion rate for your typical LMS is a measly 20-30%. But we’ve found that our Collaborative Learning programs have a rate closer to 90%.
This collaborative approach draws learners in by offering them the chance to be part of a community, which everyone needs. Co-workers can make learning requests and volunteer to fulfill each other’s requests. It helps them learn and enhances the team’s overall communication, collaboration, and teamwork skills.
The world was already changing fast, but global events and the ever-accelerating technological revolution means that companies need to be more flexible than ever. Web-based training programs are a significant factor in achieving that agility.
COVID-19 and the economic crash have shown that companies that can make lightning-fast pivots are the ones that succeed. L&D programs can be a powerful tool in supporting that flexibility by facilitating new technology rollouts, quick reskilling initiatives, and more.
While many of these challenges are specific to 2020, it’s impossible to know when another radical event might occur. That event could be a world event, an industry-specific shift, or the rapid rise of a game-changing piece of tech. An agile learning department is poised to support any of these events.
To enable your L&D team to support your company's agility, you’ll need to invest in learning tools that let you create and roll out content quickly. A Collaborative Learning approach can help by letting anyone in the company create a course, disseminate it, and update it later based on feedback or new information. L&D teams and employees alike can quickly pivot learning materials to respond to world events or changing market dynamics.
Employees want a voice in how their company operates, particularly in creating its company culture. Web-based training can be a powerful tool for enabling employees to play a more active role in the formation of that culture.
‘Company culture’ is more than just an HR buzzword; it’s a real and valued trait that can sink or elevate companies. In a recent Harvard Business Review article called “Company Culture Is Everyone’s Responsibility,” Denise Lee Yohn posits that the intensified push for diversity and inclusion, the changing employer/employee dynamics caused by COVID-19, and an increasingly competitive job market all combine to make a positive work culture more important than ever.
So what does a good company culture look like? It’s inclusive, egalitarian, and flexible—a strong contrast to the rigid top-down management styles of the past. Now, employees want to feel ownership of their companies’ decisions and direction. That includes learning programs. In the past, most employee training programs were top-down, with L&D arranging training requirements and workers complying. Now is the time for decentralized and distributed learning programs that allow employees to take ownership over their professional development.
A Collaborative Learning tool can help you build up company culture as you train employees, by letting employees request training needs, vote on those needs, and then volunteer to create courses on their areas of expertise. Everyone can make a positive contribution to the company’s learning programs and overall culture of learning.
What will the next few years bring? Hopefully, after a rough 2020, we’re in for a smoother ride, but nobody can predict the challenges that wait around the corner.
You can’t know the future, but you can safeguard against it. Protect your company’s learning programs by creating a resilient online learning structure that supports agile change.
To do this properly, you’ll need the right tools. Choose an LMS, Talent Suite, or Learning Platform that will support Collaborative Learning and help you build more democratic and flexible learning programs. That way, when the future comes knocking, you’ll be ready.
If you’d like to see how our Collaborative Learning platform can help you, book a free demo with one of our learning experts.