How Corporate Learning is Adapting to the New Normal

Posted by

Simon Truckle

on 08 Sep 2020

We interviewed training specialists at key organisations to understand how the pandemic has affected corporate learning and how they were adapting to the new normal.

How Corporate Learning is Adapting to the New Normal

This included UBS, Barclays, Société Générale, Tesco, Formula 1, Rothschild, Denso, Burberry Stagecoach, Allen & Overy, Allergan and Royal Mail.

From our wide-ranging discussions, four key areas of impact were highlighted by all.

Four ways corporate learning is changing

  • Re-evaluation of current learning programmes
  • New approaches to learning
  • Adaptation and use of new learning tools
  • Changes to future learning strategies

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How the pandemic impacted on corporate learning

One common theme in our conversations was the suspension of much mandatory learning in response to the lock-down. To ease the burden on employees and networks, many clients put learning programmes on hold or re-assigned launch dates until later in the year.

As organisations adjust to a new normal, there is recognition that some return to business as usual is both desirable and necessary. Regulation has not gone away, nor has the need to ensure compliance and to ensure all your employees have the skills they need. However, rather than just re-launching all planned learning courses, many organisations are evaluating their past approach and looking to adapt.

Key questions that leading organisations are asking are:

  • Is this learning absolutely necessary?
  • Can it be done better?

For many, the answer to the first question is allowing them to cut the burden of learning; for the second one, they are looking at ways to provide a more targeted learning experience.

These organisations most often considered:

  1. Fast-Track courses
    If the learner is experienced and or knowledgeable, the content should adapt to provide a shorter learning time.
  2. Role-based learning
    Content that adapts to the learners’ job requirements
  3. Data-driven Learning
    Stakeholders want more and better metrics from their learning. Detailed reporting on learning objectives, identifying trends, confidence levels and awareness were all quoted as being of increasing importance. There is a general desire to get more from less in terms of learning, and data analysis can be a key driver towards this goal.

Making learning more relevant

Another topic that came up repeatedly was the importance of providing relevant content that did not overburden the learner with unnecessary detail.

"Mandatory training is a bit like antibiotics, if you have too much, it ceases to be effective...[it] gives policy owners privileged access to colleagues’ time. It is not acceptable to waste it."

Learning Specialist, Global Bank

The key message is that content should be tightly focused and tell you what you can and can’t do as quickly and efficiently as possible, which leads to the next key finding:

Focus on behaviours

Many of our clients are reviewing the overall burden of learning by auditing the content they deliver thoroughly.

One senior compliance professional took some content at random to see at which point the course discussed the behaviours they wanted to see. The results were not good. Some content failed to reference to behaviours and others not until 50% of the way through!

Re-evaluating the frequency of learning 

Many respondents had examined their annual mandatory content and as a result, identified areas where it is safe to distribute content less often.

This examination of core risk and compliance content has allowed one organisation to identify that 40% of content currently released annually could be moved to a 24-month cycle.

The remote-working effect

Everyone commented on how so much of their work was now taking place via video calls and online messaging. Many see this as an opportunity to provide video or webinar style learning primarily driven by two factors:

  • The removal of viable face-face-training options
  • The ease of access to SMEs and Senior Management over zoom / Webex etc.

Many of those that we spoke with require their senior staff to conduct F2F briefings as part of their job role. As these are no longer possible, they are increasingly holding such sessions online including video recording.

How content focus has changed

Issues of information security and privacy were a source of concern. Many clients cited concerns over the safety of hardware and how compliance staff can be link to central servers safely and securely. As a result homeworking has highlighted risks in data-driven topics such as:

In addition, recent political and social events have seen a rise in demand for content on:

What does this mean for the future of learning?

By using fast-track options and adaptive Intelligent Learning you can deliver a better learner experience and should expect your content and learning management system to capture detailed metrics on individual performance.

Creating content that is behavioural driven will also enable you to focus on what really matters while cutting out superficial content and shortening learning time.

The use of video conferencing and webinars is having the effect of democratising information by making it easier to capture video messages from senior staff and subject matter experts. In the past, such video would require a meeting room, green screen, camera crew, lighting, scripts and valuable time away from the day job whereas now you can simply click a button to record and capture the message.

The challenge is how to use the newly available video resource in a way that best supports ongoing compliance.

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