In HR (Human Resources) departments everywhere, the beginning of the year usually signals the task of putting new practices to work, and delivering fresh training initiatives to upskill employees.
But, as professionals around the world continue to do the bulk of their work from their kitchen tables, delivering effective learning and development (L&D) strategies is harder work than usual.
Indeed, providing employees with e-learning software and online training courses that bring real value to their day-to-day can be tricky, says Nikolas Kairinos, founder and CEO of Soffos.
To complicate matters further, a significant 42% of full-time workers in the UK say they find it more difficult to properly engage with learning materials and training courses if they are conducted online, according to a recent study commissioned by Soffos.ai.
HR leaders should take note. Particularly as most workers are currently left with no choice but to learn from virtual offices and working from home (WFH) bubbles, now is the time for companies to consider changing up their L&D strategies.
With this in mind, what can organisations do to bolster their training initiatives in 2021?
Cater to the individual
Let’s first consider some further insights from the aforementioned Soffos.ai research. Significantly, two in five (41%) of those surveyed expressed doubts over the ability of online learning tools to support their individual learning goals.
It would be wise for businesses to focus on personalising their training resources, to ensure that they truly support staff development. Although e-learning software was already on the up far before the pandemic ever reared its head, before the onset of COVID-19, industry experts and those delivering training were able to adapt their language if employees required, cater to any specific requests, and supplement sessions with thorough review sessions.
This is a marked contrast to the rigid question and answer (Q&A) set-up usually employed within many online learning platforms, which leaves the possibility of employees having notable gaps in their knowledge, and without recourse to further assistance beyond the scope of the course.
To counter this, businesses should look to invest in software that is able to replicate the tailor-made approach usually only seen in in-person training, or else ensure that any unmoderated training courses are always followed up with Zoom debriefs. Another great option is to consider using learning style questionnaires that take into account individual differences in this way, organisations can use their findings to purchase a host of training materials that cater to their employees’ needs and styles of learning.
Focus on collaborative learning
Likewise, another important factor to remember when developing training strategies, is that learning is not just about passively taking in information. In some cases, a Q&A won’t be enough, and employees will want an in-depth discussion to truly retain training material. Our current WFH bubbles can make it difficult to provide for this, but there are certainly things that HR leaders can do to COVID-proof their plans for collaborative learning.
Organisations need look no further than Artificial Intelligence (AI). Thanks to the impressive pace at which technologies, which employ AI and natural language processing (NLP), are developing in the current climate, there is a vast array of solutions that businesses can use to their advantage.
The result of this, is that staff can enjoy a more ‘human’ style of learning, as this type of software can replicate the discursive element of real-life training, without employees ever needing to be in the same room as their mentors and peers.
Encouragingly, 39% of workers stated that they would be more open to online learning resources if they were augmented with AI, which makes this a promising avenue to explore. And while these technologies might not be accessible to all companies just yet, in the meantime HR professionals should look to high-end moderated training classrooms, as well as actively encouraging their employees to engage in conversation and active learning practices.
This should go some way towards ensuring that workers always have a positive takeaway from training incentives, and that everything learned can be practically implemented into their roles after the fact.
Find training platforms that speak your language
It might seem obvious to note, but it is important that organisations don’t just pool their resources into buying a pre-made library of generic materials. Ultimately, delivering truly successful L&D is not as simple as employing a ‘build it and they will come’ outlook, and without some all-important context around your specific business, training will likely go over your employees’ heads.
To counter this, HR leaders should ensure that training resources always keep organisational language and context in mind, as well as direct links to employee roles. Providing specificity is always the answer when it comes to effective training, and it is only in this way that workers will be able to translate information into their day-to-day roles and boost their productivity.
Again, AI-powered platforms can provide for this, without the labour-intensive work that HR professionals would otherwise have to undertake were they to create these materials manually.
AI-powered platforms have the innate ability to learn continuously based on user feedback, which means that they can adopt company lingo, as well as cultural and regional nuances where necessary without any hassle. This can offer huge advantages to your company, as well as leaving training leaders to focus on other important tasks, such as employee satisfaction and accessibility to learning opportunities.
If a member of staff doesn’t quite understand some of the information presented to them due to the format or language used, the software should be able to re-word its output and make the material easier to digest.
All in all, there is no time like the present to embrace the enormous strides that have been made in digital transformation over the course of the past year. Now more than ever, there are technologies and solutions available that can upskill staff just as well and perhaps even more effectively than many in-person training initiatives on offer. There is no time like the present to take this on board.
The author is Nikolas Kairinos, chief executive officer and founder, Soffos
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