Overnight, most organisations had to completely change how they developed and delivered their training experiences in response to COVID-19. The learning and development (L&D) industry wasn’t known for its agility. Courses often took weeks to develop and it took months to ensure each employee was able to attend lengthy training sessions in white-walled conference rooms.
It’s why L&D was one of the hardest-hit industries at the onset of the pandemic. McKinsey says roughly half of in-person programs from March to June 2020 were postponed or cancelled in North America, and close to 100 percent of learning activities in Asia and Europe.
Not only did COVID-19 force L&D teams to digitalise entire courses and programmes, but it also meant optimising workflows to accommodate a more agile future. Here’s what L&D leaders must do to keep up with this new reality:
Create an optimal learning environment
With COVID-19 restrictions varying by region, organisations need a learning system that can easily adapt to in-person, hybrid, and remote working environments as they roll courses out in a timely manner. This new method also needs to be engaging, with high retention rates that deliver return on investment.
One of the best ways to ensure that your learners accomplish this is by making it as quick and convenient as possible.
As 80 percent of the workforce is composed of ‘deskless’ workers, mobile learning is quickly becoming the most accessible way to get training out to those in the field, working remotely or working in a hybrid environment. Mobile learning enables teams to easily complete lessons on the go, whenever and wherever is convenient for them.
Deloitte’s use of mobile microlearning in its blended learning strategy is a great example of this. With restrictions varying in each market, the firm used mobile deployment to share its COVID-19 awareness course, ‘Return to the Workplace,’ with its hybrid remote and in-person teams. With learners able to complete lessons in less than five minutes, the company achieved a 100 percent completion rate across more than 10,500 Deloitte Australia employees.
Fight the forgetting curve
Studies have shown that human memory can only hold up to five new pieces of information before it gets lost or overwritten. This typical ‘forgetting curve’ means that learners tend to forget more than 50 percent of new learnings within 20 minutes after the lesson – and further decreases to 25 percent in a month’s time if no revision or repeat learning takes place.
By deploying bite-sized concepts that can be completed in as little as five minutes, microlearning results in learner engagement rates of up to 90 percent. It also means that the content learned has a better chance of being stored in long-term memory and that learners can start to slowly apply their knowledge in practical situations. As the content is short and snappy, it also reduces development costs by about half and increases the speed of development by 300 percent.
Ensure L&D works for all employees
When employees understand and accept the ‘why’, they are more likely to be productive when tasked to do learning interventions. Be deliberate in understanding your team, their preferences, and how you communicate any new learning interventions.
This will enable your L&D team to achieve greater completion rates with less follow-up required as your employees will see the value it adds to their current and future roles.
Australian pharmacy retailer Blooms The Chemist needed flexible training that would accommodate its rapid hiring needs at the onset of the pandemic. By employing mobile learning, Blooms’ 1,500+ employees were able to complete training on their mobile phones whenever they had five minutes to spare. Managers were able to send notifications to employees who had not done the training, improving completion rates without compromising employee health, safety, or compliance.
There are many lessons as the L&D industry continues to make learning more agile and dynamic than ever before. Experiences must be learner-led and learner-focused. By creating the best possible learning environment, delivering engaging content, and ensuring that new and existing courses are created with your teams in mind, the future of workplace learning will continue on this new path of agility and blended learning experiences.