· Features

Beyond the Zoom boom - training in a post-COVID world

When COVID-19 closed the door on most face-to-face interaction, the world switched to webinars, conference calls, and other forms of remote communication. Unfortunately, not every corporate function seamlessly transitioned from in-person to virtual. HR and learning & development teams faced the challenge of translating existing face-to-face training sessions into compelling virtual experiences.

While the process of merely taking the same content and delivering it online, known as virtual instructor-led training (VILT), made sense in the early days of the pandemic businesses soon realised that it was a veritable band-aid and not a true solution for their training needs.

In fact, the use of VILT decreased by 31% over the first few months of the pandemic, illustrating that the “Zoom Boom” isn’t scalable.

Despite these initial challenges, it didn’t take long for corporate learning teams and executives invested in employee development to identify opportunities to reduce the time it took to create effective online training options.

A recent Elucidat survey analysing corporate L&D found that the majority of professionals across training, L&D and HR departments are adopting e-learning strategies moving forward, with 82% aiming to produce more e-learning materials in the next three months.

Why e-learning?

This isn’t merely a temporary shift in strategy in response to COVID-19 safety protocols. The same survey showed that only 12% of organizations plan to revert to previous in-person training levels. Another survey from Fosway Group had similar findings, with only 5% of respondents saying they think L&D strategy and investment will go back to pre-pandemic models. In short, e-learning is here to stay.

While recent data shows a renewed focus on L&D initiatives it comes at a time of belt-tightening for organisations and the budget allocated to employee training. Eighty-six per cent of respondents to Elucidat’s survey expect their training budget to either be reduced or remain stagnant over the next 12 months, with just under half (45%) anticipating a reduction.

With these expected budget cuts training programs L&D leaders should plan now to address the looming savings question head-on.

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Lower the cost to be trained

The biggest cost to big employers when it comes to training is time. Specifically, it’s the time it takes the learner to be trained, as employees spend precious time away from their normal duties to perform training.

For example, look at product/service knowledge training. In 70% of companies, people are spending at least 4 hours per year on training - 31% over 10 hours. E-learning can put a huge dent in these numbers, by making it more efficient for employees to engage in training. This results in reduced learning time while delivering the same (or greater) business impact.

The way this can be achieved is by designing experiences that respect people’s time, which is a core principle of people-centered learning. The success of training should never be judged on the time spent, but on the behaviour changed and ultimately the goals achieved.

Re-thinking the role of L&D can have a big impact on the cost of producing training too. Rather than see L&D as the order takers for producing training, turn them into centres of excellence. Think of L&D as enablers of organisational transformation. They should be driving best practice and crowdsourcing the very best knowledge from across the business for targeted training where it’s needed.

By equipping subject matter experts with the tools and guidance to produce quality e-learning quickly, L&D teams are able to radically increase the business’s capacity to adapt and respond to training needs, and at a reduced cost.

Simon Greany is founder & chief product officer at Elucidat