The future has caught up to us. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) in almost every aspect of life.
Major corporations have long used digital technology and communication and training strategies. However, even companies with success in this area are overwhelmed by a reality that has forced them to plan their human, material, financial, organizational and technological resources differently in order to provide effective personnel training. After all, they can’t pause training, because their competitiveness in “the new normal” depends on it.
These changes mean that many traditional approaches to training are no longer effective. Here are six examples, along with a list of alternatives to try instead.
1. Long Courses and Content
Employees, both the ones working from home and the ones who are working in person, find themselves in a changing environment, full of challenges that make it more difficult for them to focus much time on training. At home, workers’ learning time has to compete with the care of children or other family members, home duties, and work itself. For on-site employees, a big part of their time and attention is now on adapting to changes in customer service and new health and sanitary protocols. For all employees, these challenges are in addition to having to cope with the emotional and mental health impact of working in such circumstances.
Still, employees need to acquire and develop skills in order to be successful at work. The solution, then, is to offer short content and brief sessions aimed at acquiring specific skills in less time and with faster applicability. We shouldn’t permanently discard the satisfactory training programs that require longer hours, but we should provide our employees with shorter content and faster sessions, even if it takes them more time overall to complete a program.
2. Content Distributed in a Single Way or on a Single Platform
We know that different people prefer to learn in different ways, and with the rise of social media, video, images and audio content have become preferred formats keeping ourselves informed. For example, YouTube is the second-most-commonly used social platform, according to Hootsuite data, indicating the popularity of video content. In addition, with the rising numbers of employees who have smartphones, it’s also important to produce courses and materials that are accessible on mobile devices.
3. Courses and Materials That Promote One-way or Saturated Communication
In the search for quick answers to coronavirus-related questions, we’ve seen a flood of information that often leaves employees without space and time for communication, which can be discouraging and detrimental to learning. Other employees experience the opposite problem, facing multiple virtual meetings each day without time or opportunity to practice what they learn.
Courses and programs need the support of interaction with colleagues and leaders so employees aren’t left on their own during and after training. On the other hand, we shouldn’t create a situation where employees are tired and become unproductive due to constant meetings and training sessions, so we must also distribute courses strategically.
4. Content That Doesn’t Foster Engagement
Long, technical and depersonalized content isn’t engaging for workers, particularly during this time, when their attention is divided. We need to talk to them in engaging language and with discursive strategies that not only draw their attention but also keep it through training. We can use images, visual tools, audio content, interactivity and communication to do so.
5. Courses and Materials That Don’t Achieve a Return on Investment (ROI)
Since we are living through times of budget cuts in almost every area, it’s important to direct financial resources carefully in order to respond effectively to the specific training needs and priorities of our company. Training programs, therefore, should achieve profitability and a balance between training investment and the indicators the company sets for measuring the impact of the program and its goals.
6. Face-to-face Training
During a pandemic, face-to-face training should only take place when remote learning is impossible. Then, when conducting in-person training, learners’ health and security must be a priority.
What’s the Solution?
With the help of digital technology, we can design effective learning solutions for the challenges our companies face due to the pandemic:
- Microlearning and rapid learning for long-term programs.
- The design and development of informative or dramatized videos, animated infographics, eLearning, podcasts and mobile learning are some ways to diversify learning formats.
- Webinars and the proper use of the communication tools many learning management systems (LMSs) offer are ideal for enabling learners to share knowledge and collaborate with each other.
- Effective instructional and graphic design, gamification, and audiovisual content provide employees with creative stimulation.
- Tailor-made and ready-to-implement training content give companies the opportunity to maximize their investment.