The COVID-19 pandemic upended the way we work, leaving employees with a lot to consider about their future careers. As they work from a distance, many are reevaluating their relationship with their employers. They face new challenges that reveal skill gaps — and, working under uncertain circumstances, they’ve seen their morale drop.

All these challenges impact businesses, too. When employees are not engaged, they’re more likely to leave. Productivity sinks, and the people who stay behind struggle under an increased workload. The key to fighting turnover is not to look for external talent but to empower existing staff — which you can do with an effective learning strategy.

How the Pandemic Affected Morale

According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s COVID-19 Research: How the Pandemic Is Challenging and Changing Employers, “two in three employers say maintaining employee morale has been a challenge.”

The drop in morale is partly due to the fact that employees are losing ground and feeling unsupported. Over one-third of employers told SHRM they are “grappling with changes in employee productivity.” Roughly the same number reported, “a noticeable increase in requests for information about employee assistance programs” (EAPs).

Businesses need to invest in the people responsible for the day-to-day operations that keep them afloat. How? By building a learning culture.

Learning and Development Solidifies Culture and Loyalty

High-quality talent is any business’s greatest asset. You can’t entirely eliminate employee turnover, but when you support your employees and help them feel valued, you can significantly reduce it.

According to a recent TalentLMS report, learning and development (L&D) opportunities have a big impact. The majority of employees polled (88%) see training as important to their job, and 61% said they need more training to do their job better. The impact on performance is clear as well: Employees who receive training from their employer report better communication with their teams and higher levels of productivity.

Training sends a message to employees and helps define your company culture. Employees who receive training from their employers report feeling valued at a higher rate (63%) than employees who don’t (44%). The same goes for reported levels of happiness while working from home (73% versus 64%).

When you invest in employee training, you show people that you don’t just care about their output. You show them that you’re also interested in their success and their future with your organization.

How to Integrate Training Into the Employee Experience

Training shouldn’t be an extra burden on an already busy workload or a box to tick. Instead, it should be a natural part of people’s jobs, blending seamlessly into their daily tasks.

A good L&D program engages learners to help them retain knowledge and apply new skills on the job. To build that kind of program, you’ll need to leverage the power of technology and focus on the learner experience. Here are five ways you can tap into online training trends and create a strong learning culture in your organization:

1. Self-paced Learning

Training can’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach. To address different needs and preferences, you need flexibility — which is where self-paced learning comes in. Online asynchronous training gives employees the freedom to learn anywhere, at any time. For example, they can spend a few hours taking an online course, or they can break it down into smaller chunks throughout the week. This way, training supports work rather than disturbing it. When employees have control over their training, they’re more engaged, too.

2. Blended Learning

The trend toward digital training doesn’t mean the end of classroom-based learning. Live sessions can still happen in a physical space, or they can take place through videoconferencing or webinars.

But you don’t need to rely only on those tools. With a blended learning approach, you and your learners experience the best of both worlds. Reap the benefits of the real-time interaction with instructors and colleagues, and combine them with the flexibility that self-paced learning offers.

3. Microlearning

Some people have a short attention span and are easily distracted. Others might work in a hectic environment and need just-in-time training rather than long courses. Microlearning addresses those various employee needs, as it consists of short, bite-sized lessons.

Microlearning is often delivered through a mobile app, so it speaks to a familiar pattern of technology and learning across generations. Employees can log in from the phone and learn when and where it’s convenient for them.

4. Experiential Learning

When employees have hands-on experience with new skills, they’re much more likely to apply them on the job. Role-playing activities and simulations enable learners to work through real-world scenarios. These strategies help employees learn from their mistakes in a safe environment. They also build muscle memory for new skills, making it much more likely to apply them back on the job.

5. Training Data Analysis

Training just for the sake of it doesn’t guarantee that employees grow their skills and feel valued, which is why you should always check what’s working and what’s not. Fortunately, if you use a learning management system (LMS) for employee training, it will give you access to valuable data.

Are people failing their tests? Do they struggle to complete a course? Reports within the LMS will give you answers to these questions so you can adjust and improve your training. With these insights, you’ll be more confident that employees engage with and learn from the training you deliver.

Building a Workforce for the Future

Employers are facing changes and new challenges in the wake of the pandemic. Learning and development solutions are key to meeting the constantly evolving demands of employees as they strive to keep up. Your dedication to an effective learning and development program will support well-equipped employees. They, in turn, will stick with you and help grow your company and move successfully into the future of work.