Ever since COVID-19 took hold in March 2020, businesses have had to radically transform the way they design and implement their learning and development (L&D) strategies. With strict social distancing and lockdown measures in place, for months now, employees around the world have been forced to work from home, and naturally, this has had an impact on the way that training is delivered.
E-learning resources have been around for quite some time now, but up until recently, most organizations employed these resources as a supplement to in-person training. As the pandemic has persisted, training sessions delivered in-person are now likely to be on the back burner for the foreseeable future, making way for e-learning resources to rise to the top.
Although digital solutions are necessary to fill the current corporate training gap, it is concerning that a significant 42 percent of full-time workers say that they struggle to properly engage with learning materials and training courses delivered online, according to a recent survey commissioned by Soffos.ai.
With this in mind, business leaders would do well to consider how they can give their L&D strategies a much-needed boost. Here are some tips.
Place person-centered learning at the heart of your strategy
Whether online or in-person, when businesses are drawing up their L&D strategies, one thing should remain constant: training materials should cater to the individual, and not the masses.
This is because no one individual will learn in the same way as their peers, and without customized material that takes into account differences in learning styles, members of staff might struggle to focus and understand how they can implement training materials into their day-to-day roles.
To counter this, it would be advisable for human resources (HR) professionals to conduct a mass audit or questionnaire to determine how their staff learn best, then commit to using these insights when developing training strategies. Naturally, this will vary from person to person, so it would be wise to have a number of resources on hand that caters to these learning styles, whether that be auditory, interpersonal, or linguistic.
As a more general rule of thumb, businesses would also do well to embed active learning into their strategies, by accompanying more standard lecture and exam-based learning with online moderated classrooms, or videoconferencing de-briefs. This should help employees retain information better, and establish a clearer link to their roles.
Soft skills are more important than ever
Likewise, there is one feature in particular that leads e-learning incentives to miss the mark. Despite best intentions, online platforms often lack the personability and effective communication that are innate to in-person training efforts. Ordinarily, this facet of training allows for collaboration and a more ‘Socratic’ style of learning, where mentors and peers can both learn from their exchanges, leading to improved retention and even improved employer-employee relationships.
The aforementioned Soffos.ai survey found that only 19 percent of workers believe online learning software or courses to be an effective replacement for in-person teaching. With this in mind, organizations should ensure that they make interpersonal learning a top priority in their L&D strategies.
Thankfully, nowadays this isn’t too difficult to reproduce online, as there are a number of apps and videoconferencing platforms available to imbue your training plans with a more ‘human’ edge. From workplace communication tools like Slack and Zoom that encourage active discussion amongst peers and mentors, all the way through to sophisticated software augmented with artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP), there is a multitude of ways to make your training more personable in the work from home (WFH) era.
Although these latter technologies aren’t quite widespread just yet, in the future their ability to understand and replicate human speech will be used to prompt and drive valuable conversations with employees about the material they are learning. What’s more, they give off the illusion that employees are engaged in a less formal style of teaching than they are in reality. And particularly in the current climate, this takes much of the tedium and chore out of learning.
Only invest in tech that speaks your language
It’s no secret that when developing L&D strategies, many organizations adopt a ‘build it and they’ll come mentality’, investing in a pile of generic resources that don’t contain any reference to the specific organization. And while these libraries may seem exhaustive, employees might find it difficult to apply their newfound knowledge into their roles.
The result of this is that budgets are wasted on resources that fundamentally don’t have your businesses’ goals in mind, and some workers will likely remain in a rut, with little to no improvement to their productivity or expertise.
This is where AI-powered platforms come in: these technologies will not only have the ability to integrate company lingo and cultural nuances, they will also be able to continuously improve their output based on feedback from users. No question will be too difficult for AI when these technologies are at their peak, meaning that if an employee doesn’t understand a specific piece of information or a more general concept, they will only have to say so, and the software will be able to reword the output to resolve their query.
While it is true that the year to come is likely to be one punctuated with further struggles and demands on the L&D front, it is entirely possible for organizations to refresh their strategies and get smarter with their investments. With digital transformation efforts in overdrive at the moment, now is the opportune moment for businesses to seize on the opportunity to enhance their training initiatives — all that is required is a fresh mindset.