The current pandemic has demonstrated L&D's flexibility and adaptability, as well as its importance.
Let’s meet Lizzie.
Lizzie is a training coordinator responsible for scheduling mandatory trainings for and ensuring attendance 328 employees. She also is responsible for the corporate learning management system (LMS) where she tracks employee compliance. The company offers learning experiences in a variety of formats, but employees consistently request in-person sessions.
One afternoon in March, Lizzie was scheduling in-person sessions for the following quarter. She had already lined up SMEs to serve as facilitators, reserved the conference rooms, and updated content and training designs. All she needed to do was open course registration and track enrollment. Lizzie thought that her work was done.
By the following Monday, Lizzie was working from home. By 2:00 pm she had already met with her manager and other training coordinators several times from her kitchen table exchanging ideas to address the new needs of employees who had to learn to perform different jobs and to work from home to maintain business continuity. Other employees needed to maintain skills they acquired recently until they could return to the workplace to use them.
Suddenly, Lizzie, the other training coordinators, and her manager had to rethink their entire learning program beyond mandatory trainings and fast. The business could not wait for extensive discussions and consultations. They had to respond quickly because the future of the company and its capacity to respond to the situation depended significantly on the team’s decisions under highly uncertain conditions.
They took several steps:
Now they were ready to fine-tune the training program.
The day before launching the new program, the regional manager asked what the plan was for employees who weren’t currently returning to work. She’d received texts asking what they could do while they waited, and she noted feeling particularly concerned about one employee who did not like to participate in anything virtual.
That’s when the team realized they had focused on shifting gears to the urgent issue at hand—revamping training for critical roles to keep the business going during the emergency—and had lost sight of what the business would need after the pandemic had ended.
Not all employees had embraced technology in the same way, but the L&D team was just as responsible for their learning as they were for everyone else. Back to the drawing board.
The L&D team invited the virtual learning-averse employee to give her input about how they could support her learning during and after the emergency. She became the representative of those employees whose learning styles required other approaches, and her feedback contributed to the creation of a parallel learning track keep employees engaged in learning during the emergency and that could potentially complement other experiences after the business reopened.
This learning track included:
Now the L&D team was ready to forge ahead into the new normal while paving the way for an increase in virtual learning experiences.
Lizzie’s experience is an example of how L&D’s role is just as important now—if not more so. A May 2020 LinkedIn Learning study surveyed 864 L&D professionals from 21 countries and 3,155 workplace learners in 31 countries and further supports this heightened level of importance.
According to the study:
LinkedIn Learning. (2020). "Leading with Learning: Insights and Advice About the New State of L&D."
(As published in ATD Links / July 14th, 2020)