Lessons Learnt from the Pandemic and the Future of Workplace Learning

Updated: Jun 2



The pandemic taught us several lessons. Many lost one or more of their loved ones. Many lost their jobs. Others had to reinvent themselves and go down a new career path to sustain themselves. There has not been a single industry or business-line, which did not get affected by the pandemic. After more than two years of bitterness, fears, and uncertainty; the world is slowly opening up, and we are resuming regular working hours at the office.


Some of the key changes or lessons that the pandemic taught L&D and HR are summarized in this post. We shall also examine what the future holds for L&D professionals and look at some suggestions that companies can implement to foster a strong organizational learning culture.


How the Pandemic Forced a Change in Traditional Employee Learning?


Shift from in-person training

Regular on-the-job training and in-person skill-based learning workshops were replaced by self-paced wholly online and virtual instructor-led training programs. With not every employee having high broadband speeds and access to official intranets governed by firewall-based protocols; there was a dedicated shift towards learning content deployed on secure external websites, password-protected YouTube and Vimeo channels, and dedicated mobile learning apps.


Overcoming distractions

At a regular office, the number of distractions are limited. It could be a co-worker speaking loudly or some sudden announcement by HR, or a seemingly never-ending meeting, which eats into the daily schedule. When working went remote and people had to work from their residences, the distractions turned manifold, there would be children, parents, pets, siblings or spouses forcing an interruption in work. Not all employees had the luxury of a separate room to isolate themselves from the rest of the family during work-hours. Thus, the primary challenge for L&D experts was to create learning that would hold the attention of the learner and offer an engaging learning experience.


The rise of microlearning

We have examined microlearning and its benefits in earlier blog posts. The pandemic and remote learning and working gave added impetus to the popularity and growth of microlearning with video-based learning nuggets becoming extremely popular among learners. A thoughtfully designed microlearning program can be much more than just videos, there is scope to add interactive quizzes, a game-like scenario, role-play and scenarios, wherein the learner has to perform specific tasks virtually to drive and reinforce the core learning concept. The popularity of TikTok Videos, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts reinforce the idea that brief videos can become a big success while conveying an idea.


Podcasts

In the last decade podcasts have slowly become extremely popular. Major audio streaming services offer a dedicated library of podcasts by subject matter experts and renowned entertainment professionals. Podcasts and eLearning are a match made in heaven. For people looking for a non-intrusive learning solution, podcasts work as the perfect answer to all problems. By integrating relevant podcasts within the eLearning program, organizations can add value to the course content and help employees reinforce the core learning objectives.


What Does the Future of Digital Workplace Learning Look Like?


The shift from traditional learning and working to remote learning and working followed by a hybrid model, which most organizations have adopted have brought in vast changes in the way learning at the workplace is deployed. We are nearing the middle of 2022 and 2023 opens up a wide variety of possibilities as we look at ways to make workplace learning meaningful, inclusive, easily accessible, and with direct benefits for both learners and the organization.


As L&D professionals, we have witnessed several changes in the last few years. From in-person training to self-paced eLearning, VILT programs, eLearning bundled on a CD/DVD or USB-drive, and now dedicated mobile learning apps; the sheer speed at which changes have taken place seems staggering. Some aspects that L&D and HR teams should consider when preparing training calendars for their employees are listed below:


Building an inclusive learning culture

In the modern era, it is important to look at several factors that can impact the learning experience. Gender inequality, cultural representation of characters and illustrations in the eLearning program, and making learning inclusive and accessible to every employee irrespective of any physical or cognitive disability is something that L&D teams should spend extra time on. An inclusive learning culture creates a sense of bonhomie and bonding among employees and makes learning a pleasant experience rather than a task or chore.


Designing learning that boosts growth opportunities


What is the core purpose of assigning an employee a training program?

  • Is it to meet training objectives?

  • Fulfil mandatory training hours for each employee as mandated by the HR rule-book?

  • Is it a redundant program that serves no real purpose?

Don’t let your organization’s training calendar be replete with such courses that serve no practical purpose. Please focus on creating sensible, meaningful, rich, and engaging learning content that benefits the learner and helps improve their growth prospects in the organization. Remember good employees and team-members are hard to find and even harder to retain. Give employees the chance to upskill and reskill themselves and attempt new challenges at work.


Health and wellbeing

Ensuring the physical health and emotional wellbeing of your employees is going to be key focus at workplace. Work-from-home does not mean that the employee is available at all times to take calls or complete training programs even after a long grueling work-shift. Focus on investing in mindfulness and wellness programs that help your employees stay focused and offer their best at work. Create training calendars that account for the regular tasks and activities of your employees and offer sensible and flexible deadlines for completion of training programs. Healthy and emotionally stable employees contribute to the success of an organization. Invest in their wellbeing and you will be rewarded manifold times with better and faster work.


Going beyond off-the-shelf and catalog courses

Catalog courses and white-labeled off-the-shelf learning courses can be an easy way to save money and kickstart your training programs; but they come with a lot of negatives. Generic programs do not work for a product/software-specific training program and do not consider gender and cultural bias among learners. Your actual learning requirements could be completely different from what the catalog training courses offer. Plus catalog courses may have a lot of content that serve no real purpose for your organization. Hence, it is better to invest in customized digital learning solutions that are designed keeping in mind your learners and the actual goals that need to be met.


Going beyond algorithms and AI

Algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence these are all terms that sound fantastic and vendors may claim that they have integrated these technologies to create powerful learning platforms that automatically recommend the next learning program for your employees. There is nothing wrong with rapidly advancing tech, it is the implementation, and cost-to-benefit ratio that will matter more. Look at solutions designed by humans for humans instead of relying on algorithms to dictate terms to your learners.


S4Carlisle – Your Trusted eLearning Solutions Partner

At S4Carlisle, we design human-centric digital learning solutions that help your employees an organization leverage our expertise in workplace learning. From content services, localization support, dedicated tech support for LMS choosing and deployment, we offer a whole portfolio of services and solutions that make your life easier. Write to us at sales@s4carlisle.com to learn how we can help you.

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