“Communities across the country are attempting to reopen, sending employees back to work. Our experience is unprecedented. As business leaders, we are in uncharted territories. We’ve never been through this before. There is no handbook or best practice for returning to work after quarantine during a global pandemic crisis. We are all figuring it out as we go,” said Ryan Eudy, the chief executive officer of HSI in an ej4 article, “Training’s Role Returning to Work After Quarantine.”

This quote sets the stage for training everywhere, including the San Francisco Superior Court, to effectively step into a more impactful role within organizations at this time of need.

Now two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, learning and development (L&D) leaders are considering these questions:

1.) How do we train after the pandemic?

2.) What changes should go and what do we keep?

3.) What will the future of training look like in organizations?

The Superior Court’s Response to Learning

To answer the above questions, the court’s training function responded to COVID-19 by revamping its structure and developing a training strategy tailored to the needs of employees working on site or remotely. The strategy continued to provide sound training experiences that helped employees work better with one another, complete tasks more efficiently and prepare for upward mobility while adhering to federal, state and local guidelines.

Though face-to-face instruction was the sole modality for training at the courthouse for years, this approach to tailoring learning experiences introduced a new host of training options at their grasp. While virtual learning was initially adopted out of necessity, the future of training requires options that give learners the maximum autonomy for when, where and even how fast they consume learning.

A New Solution to Learning Post-pandemic

Like the approach from the court’s human resources (HR), court education and development (CED) team, learning leaders should propose and develop a post-pandemic model that outlines the organization’s future of training. The Superior Court used a three-part model called, the next-generation training (NGT) project that included three phases:

  • Phase 1: Create a virtual learning environment for employees.
  • Phase 2: Develop self-paced, video-assisted learning modalities.
  • Phase 3: Build the learning management system (LMS) for employees.

This training model can prepare organizations in adopting a new framework for learning strategies and modalities post-pandemic. It must be based upon industry trends, approved by organizational leadership, have a plan of action, include regular correspondence, illicit useful insights and respond to both participant and organizational needs.

Learning leaders seeking a new training strategy for virtual and self-paced training and using an LMS to help manage and keep track of staff participation and completion should consider the following steps:

  1. Conduct preliminary research. The starting point with any project should be ensuring that you have a working knowledge of the training industry, its current trends and strategies. This will help you frame your ideas accurately and appropriately. Compile a log of proven research and helpful websites you and your L&D team has accessed.
  2. Get project buy-in first. Write a project proposal and get it approved from executive leadership in the organization. It is also important to promote a project with employees, so they see the “what’s in it for me.”
  3. Plan and document what you do. There will always be questions about the necessity, validity and replicability of your strategy, so the more you clearly explain and illustrate the work you are doing to others, using relatable language, the less resistance you will bear before, during and after implementation.
  1. Communicate regularly. Announce the successes and setbacks of your project as it happens and keep the powers that be informed at least monthly. Be the first to communicate about any incident especially if it is negative and describe how you will or have dealt with it. Never wait until a known issue becomes a complaint before addressing it with participants, management or vendors.
  1. Request feedback throughout the process. Use multiple methods, (e.g., individual conversations, observations, tests, surveys, interviews, focus groups or performance records) to gain insight, and use all information available to improve your training strategy throughout the process.
  2. Evaluate learner outcomes and satisfaction. Make sure learners and everyone involved have an established, anonymous method to provide honest feedback about the training’s usefulness in the workplace to measure the strategy’s impact during and after implementation.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented and had varied impacts on organizations big and small, the technology to continue training has become readily available. Two years later, everyone must identify what works best for their organization based on the resources and support available. The new challenge is to reimagine training modalities for the landscape that has become the new normal for each workplace.

Whether training is needed for on site, remote or hybrid working environments, it must always meet the ongoing needs of a more technology savvy workforce and be adaptable for whatever comes next. A well-developed training strategy and the consideration of new training modalities is a move in the right direction.

Register for the spring Training Industry Conference & Expo (TICE) to hear Orin Johnson’s session, “A Post-pandemic Model with the Future of Training in Mind.”