CEO, Soffos.ai Soffos
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How to give your L&D interventions a human edge in the flexible working era

Learning strategies remain trapped in the past but, as we emerge from the pandemic and embrace more flexible working styles, it’s time to change our approach.

18th Mar 2021
CEO, Soffos.ai Soffos
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Serious african business man or black male student wearing headphones conference video calling, watching webinar online, social distance learning or working using laptop at home office, taking notes.
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It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the pandemic has changed workplace learning and development forever. The extent of that remains to be seen, but with strict social distancing measures still in place, we can largely put any learning shortfalls down to the diminishing presence of in-person training initiatives usually in place to supplement any online instruction.

Every business and their workforce will have a different set of needs and particularities, so their L&D strategy should echo this.

Worryingly, in response to the current state of affairs, a recent survey commissioned by Soffos.ai has revealed that a significant 42% of full-time workers are struggling to properly engage with learning materials and training courses delivered online.

This would be an opportune moment, therefore, for organisations to take stock of the large-scale switch to digital and the transformations that have come with it, as industry leaders decide where to focus their efforts next. Here are some areas for improvement in the year ahead.

WFH doesn’t have to mean learning alone

It’s safe to say that one of the most distinctive facets of pre-Covid L&D strategies, was the prominence office-based training sessions. Although digital efforts have been on the up for quite some time in the corporate learning space, person-centred learning has always been front and centre – mostly owing to the fact that this learning tactic allows for greater customisation and collaboration between members of staff.

A more ‘Socratic’ form of learning often leads to a greater retention and better relationships between mentors and peers, with all members of staff fully immersed in the learning process. Although creating opportunities for collaborative learning will likely remain a priority for businesses going forward, replicating this at a time when we are all working from our kitchen tables poses fresh challenges.

Indeed, in our research only 19% of workers believed online learning software or courses to be an effective replacement for in-person teaching, meaning that many L&D leaders will be left scratching their heads for a solution.

Thanks to collaboration and video conferencing tools like Slack and Zoom, which allow colleagues to talk freely amongst themselves about learning materials and how they apply to their day-to-day roles, nowadays creating digital learning opportunities with a more ‘human’ edge isn’t too difficult a task. Further down the line, cutting-edge software augmented with artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) will be top of the agenda for businesses looking to make their L&D more personable.

Although these technologies haven’t hit the mainstream just yet, in the years to come, they will work by understanding and replicating human speech, using this knowledge to prompt employees with questions about the materials they are learning from. Not only does this give the impression of a more informal style of learning, as remote working practices are likely to remain with us long after the pandemic has ceased, they will prove to be a more sustainable mode of L&D.

learning strategy hub link

Personalisation is key

No matter whether your workforce is working from home, or back in the office, one particular aspect of training should remain consistent, and that is personalisation. Even in the remote working climate, there is no excuse for training materials that simply cater to the masses, as the most successful L&D programmes always tailor their content to specific employees and their individual working styles.

Of course, this is easier to manage when sessions are delivered in person, rather than by traditional software or e-learning platforms, as training leaders have the innate ability to recognise individual differences and learning styles, and adapt their instruction accordingly. Without these adaptations, workers might find it trickier to translate their training into meaningful change in their day-to-day roles.

Thankfully, there are ways to overcome this. One such way would be to commission a survey or an audit to assess how your staff learn best. L&D teams can then interpret the data gathered to develop specific and made-to-measure training plans for employees, no matter their learning style.

For example, interpersonal learners might do better when straightforward Q&A sessions are supplemented with online moderated classrooms or video conferencing debriefs. Meanwhile auditory learners would likely benefit more from a training session that incorporates vocal and aural cues. Ultimately, this should ensure that training sessions serve to be more than just box-ticking exercises, and employees leave sessions with a positive takeaway that they can carry into their roles.

Invest with your organisation in mind

Traditionally speaking, it is common for companies to pile their resources into purchasing huge libraries of ‘universal’ learning materials that make no specific mention of their organisation. The problem with this is that though these libraries might seem comprehensive, their universality is actually their biggest downfall.

Indeed, without company specificity and direct links to employee roles, organisations ultimately end up wasting their budgets on resources that simply don’t fulfill their goals, or provide any new insights or expertise.

Naturally, every business and their workforce will have a different set of needs and particularities, so their L&D strategy should echo this.

Instead of investing in one-size-fits-all programmes, organisations should therefore look to AI-powered platforms that have the ability to build company lingo and cultural nuances into their output. In the years to come, these technologies will be able to interact with members of staff, engage in an active exchange of information, and even modify their output if an employee doesn’t understand a specific piece of information. Users will just need to say the word, and AI will deliver.

What’s more, these technologies have the ability to continuously learn from user interactions, so the quality of the answers and instruction becomes increasingly better with time.

Naturally, the corporate learning space is constantly evolving, and will always be subject to a changing set of demands. Even with the surprises of 2020 almost behind us, this year will be no different in this regard, and it is important that businesses ensure they are able to adapt their plans accordingly. Fortunately, right now, digital transformation initiatives are running full steam ahead across the board, and cutting-edge learning technologies are on the way – businesses need only make the most of it to supercharge their L&D efforts.

Interested in this topic? Read Is flexible learning the key to a swift business recovery?

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