COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of life today, including the way we work. Due to changes in business practices, organizations have had to quickly make adjustments to keep employees both engaged and productive. Many of these changes not only influence the way business happens now but also will continue to have an impact moving forward.

Implementing a two-part strategy to address your organization’s long- and short-term learning and development (L&D) needs will help set your organization on the path to success.

Short-term Strategies to Boost Employee Engagement

Recent research by Gallup found that the number of workers in the U.S. who work from home doubled between mid-March and April, reaching 62%. Remote work was a significant adjustment for most organizations, but it was especially difficult for companies that previously used traditional in-person training methods and that did not previously use much technology for training and development.

Now that the dust has settled, these organizations are looking for short-term solutions they can start using quickly to engage their remote workforce. They need collaboration tools, programs for videoconferencing and new ways to train their remote workers. If you are one of these organizations, there are two effective ways you can address your new short-term training needs:

Converting Instructor-led Training to Virtual Instructor-led Training

Your old training programs are not useless. In many cases, you can adapt instructor-led training (ILT) courses into a virtual format. Converting your instructor led training into virtual instructor-led courses may be easier than you think, and doing so is a great way to quickly develop meaningful and engaging learning experiences for your remote employees. It’s a relatively low-cost solution that you can implement quickly by repurposing content you already have.

Implementing Cost-effective Online Employee Training

Another solution is to develop new content using a fast and engaging strategy, such as microlearning. Microlearning is an eLearning strategy in which each piece of content focuses on a single topic and is short enough that learners can consume it in just a few minutes.

Microlearning content uses animation, video content and simulations to keep learners engaged. This short format makes it easy to fit learning into a tight schedule, prevents information overload and promotes knowledge retention. If your organization is looking for a way to develop engaging content quickly, this strategy might be what you are looking for.

Whether you choose to convert your old training content or develop new training materials, these two strategies will help your organization continue to provide engaging learning experiences and increase the productivity of your remote team members.

Long-term Strategies to Boost Employee Engagement

You will also need a long-term strategy, because rather than returning to the way things were before, there will be a new business normal. A recent Gartner survey suggests that 82% of organizations plan on letting employees continue working from home at least part of the time, and 47% will allow employees to do so full time, even after restrictions are lifted. After you have met your short-term training needs, there are two longer-term strategies to consider:

Investing in Leadership Development

Even before COVID-19, the demand for leadership development was rising as the Baby Boomer generation began to retire and organizations looked to develop new leaders to take their place. With recent changes in the workplace, there is a greater need not only for leaders who can inspire teams and promote innovation but also for leaders who can manage remote teams. Developing these leaders is an important consideration as you create your long-term training strategy.

Training Outsourcing and Vendor Consolidation

As training and development programs go in more of a digital direction, they will also require advanced tools and systems and a team of experts to develop and maintain these programs. One way to create this team is to outsource your learning and development projects to an experienced vendor in the training industry.

If you choose to outsource, you may want to consider working with a partner that provides managed learning services. Companies that offer these services provide the full range of learning and development services, from strategy to content development and more. Partnering with an organization that provides managed learning will make it easier to consolidate the number of learning companies you partner with, as it will be able to handle most, if not all, of your L&D needs.

A Final Note

This year has brought many changes, including impacting how we work. Organizations in every industry have had to adapt to these changes in one way or another, including transitioning to remote work and virtual training.

When it comes to engaging employees and increasing productivity, learning and development has a major role to play. However, L&D teams must change their short- and long-term training plans to adapt successfully. Converting training to an online learning format is the highest short-term priority for organizations making the shift to remote work, while the long-term priority should be developing leaders and streamlining the L&D process.