The New Normal: Learning with the Remote Workforce
Employees are experiencing an onslaught of stimulation and pressures in unprecedented ways. We are asking employees to exist in new environments, think in new ways, and act differently. So how do we continue to connect with employees and provide valuable learning opportunities?
- Leverage marketing principles to focus your analysis of the end-user
- Reinvent virtual training to reach your employees at their point of need
In L&D, we know that we have to consider the “user” or “learner” first if we want our training to be effective. At the end of the day, this focus on design-thinking and putting yourself in the user’s shoes is one of the most important factors in creating effective (and engaging) training that sticks. Training teams use design workshops, empathy interviews, and ethnographic research to understand their audience and identify their pain points. And it’s all with one goal in mind: to gain insights that will help them create a better learner experience and more impactful training solutions. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you think about your learner and the type of training they need.
Focus on the end-user and deliver training that matters!
1. Consider learning appetite
Studies have shown that close to 90% of millennials say growth and development opportunities are important to them in a job. However, employees may have trouble focusing on professional development in stressful times. To combat this, make sure there are resources available that feel less formal than traditional training. Learners are more likely to engage with more informal material, like podcasts or blogs.
2. Provide blended learning
When learners experience the same thing over and over they become fatigued and lose engagement. A Microsoft study revealed that after 30 minutes of video conferencing, users experience mental fatigue that impacts them for the rest of the day. Provide a better learning experience by blending live virtual experiences with online learning content, and use a variety of modalities such as videos, games, huddles, or webinars, to complement eLearning modules and keep learning fresh. To find the right blend for your learners, consider:
- What content would be better off self-paced, so your learners can work through it on their own? (This is usually great for videos or online courses!)
- When is it better to get together to learn in a group? (Think about team huddles to practice skills or instructor-led sessions.)
3. Create more flexibility
Now, more than ever, there is a need to deliver fast, high quality, and relevant solutions for learners. Just as business needs are shifting, so are learners’ needs, and training teams need to be able to quickly create a mix of content to support them. To do this, we need to work in more agile ways: experiment more, co-create with end-users, partners, and senior leaders, test often, and accelerate iterations. Partnering with your learners more closely allows you to see and hear their needs from many different angles and it embeds innovative problem-solving into your L&D process.
4. Deliver engaging learning content that reinforces learning principles
When transferring in-person training to virtual, we need to use intentional design and delivery to create social, effective, and immersive learning solutions. Utilize interactive tech features such as polling and whiteboard tools to keep learners engaged in a digital environment. It’ll help cut down on multitasking and checking their emails in another window. Whenever possible, use breakout rooms for peer-discussion and group work. Believe it or not, information is remembered more when learners come up with it themselves, rather than reading it or hearing it. It’s called the generation-effect. Simplify your content. Limit instruction to 8-10 minute chunks and reinforce key topics using strong summaries or activities to catch those who have zoned out. Follow up your session with post-learning reflection prompts to beat the forgetting curve and enhance learning transfer.
5. Focus on core capabilities
In a world of virtual immersion, it is about talent, not technology, and human-skills such as the ability to learn, flexibility, empathy, communication, and relationship-building are in high demand. IBM reported that 4 of the top 5 skills necessary for the modern workforce are behavioral skills, and LinkedIn learning recently published that the 3 highest priority skills were: Not sure what your team needs help with? Ask them. Partner with the team to understand how these skills come to life in their day-to-day jobs and what else they need to be successful. For example, how can creativity and problem-solving be applied to their role? What does good look like for them? What tools or resources do they need to grow this capability?
- Leadership & management - 57%
- Creative problem solving & design thinking - 42%
- Communication - 40%
Thrive in the new Normal
To thrive in the new normal, organizations need to redefine what "normal" looks like for training their team. They need to find ways to prioritize employee development by recontextualizing learning to meet their teams’ needs, and — above all — provide clarity to employees of what capabilities they need to succeed and support them to reach their biggest impact. Not sure where to get started? Partner with our consulting team to meet learner’s needs and solve business problems. We are known for pushing teams to Think Outside™ the box and finding creative ways to elevate learning at their organization.