Navigating the New Normal: Best Practices for Training and Developing a Remote Workforce
Given the realities and associated challenges of today’s uncertain global business climate, the greatest indicator of success continues to be the ability of business leaders to meaningfully support their teams, colleagues, and partners.
While ensuring teams have the tools, resources, and assistance they need should remain the focus through these troubling times, organizations also must begin to prioritize how they will adapt their corporate learning and development strategies to align with both our current reality and future-state. These two responsibilities are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they rely heavily upon one another.
COVID-19 has forced many employees to shift from in-person, face-to-face interactions to remote work environments. In March, it was reported that 16 million U.S. knowledge workers had switched to working remotely—a number that is likely much higher now. This change in work surroundings has greatly impacted the state of corporate training and, with much uncertainty remaining around when Americans will be able to return to the typical office setting, Learning and Development (L&D) departments must remain agile.
Meeting the Needs of Employees
When juxtaposed against the typical corporate environment of just a few months ago, how employees interact with one another looks a lot different today. While post-meeting discussions and team lunches were once the norm, businesses are struggling to find new and digitally innovative ways to keep employees engaged with their organizations, as well as with their colleagues. Luckily, businesses need not look further than their own L&D departments to achieve this.
According to Sitel’s Future of Work and Employee Learning survey, 92% of U.S. employees say that learning something new on the job enables them to feel more motivated and engaged. Providing meaningful and robust opportunities for digital learning and development not only meets the needs of current employees, it helps to attract the 79% of employees who say, while in the midst of their job search, that it is important their prospective employer offers a formal training program.
Challenges L&D Professionals May Be Facing
COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the development and adoption of digital learning. While this acceleration is, ultimately, a tremendous benefit to the organization, as well as to the individual, L&D professionals face a multitude of obstacles while attempting to meet the ever-increasing demand to produce new, engaging, interactive, and gamified content for learners. This is especially true within organizations featuring smaller Training departments that may not have the resources to keep up with increased content development demands. If an organization finds itself in this situation, where the supply and demand for new L&D content is imbalanced, there are resources business leaders can lean on, from industry Webinars to Content Curation Platforms. Launching the right Content Curation Platform, for example, allows employees to continually upskill while tracking their own “Lifelong Learning Score.” This empowers employees to learn something new while engaging with their colleagues through various gamification features: leaderboards, badges, certificates, etc. However, perhaps one of the best resources businesses can adopt is a user-generated content (“UGC”) strategy.
Why a User-Generated Content Strategy Works
User-generated content is any form of content (video/audio/text/infographic) that is created and published via digital platform by end-users, product champions, or product owners. UGC continues to be one of the most popular trends in the training industry because, among other things, it supports the accelerated development and creation of user-centric content, and ensures that current and continually refreshed training is available to employees. Allowing members of your organization to play a role in the development of content (with guidelines and parameters in place, of course), fosters a culture of inclusion and challenges individuals to think outside of the box and to operate outside of their comfort zone, all while allowing the organization to keep up with content development needs.
In addition to addressing growing production challenges, UGC eliminates cost as a barrier to the content development process—ensuring companies experiencing budget freezes as a result of COVID-19 do not sacrifice their employees’ educational development. Finally, and most importantly, UGC is a tangible, substantive, and innovative way to address the feelings of loneliness and isolation some employees may be experiencing. UGC provides a new way to meaningfully and creatively collaborate with one another within moderated and company-supported digital environments.
As businesses navigate these unusual and uncertain times, addressing the learning and development needs of employees must be a priority. With an increased emphasis on learning and development comes an increase in employee engagement. Providing digital opportunities for upskilling and training allows the most important asset of any business—employees!—to continue to forge forward, confidently, and in a supported manner that facilitates the ability of each individual to flourish.