The current pandemic crisis single handedly forced employees to transform the way they work almost overnight. Learning and Development (L&D) emerged as one of the earliest and hard-hit business functions. Workplace learning was required to pivot to a new digital avatar as numerous in-person training sessions had to be converted into engaging virtual learnings. So how did the L&D function respond to the change? 

Well, organizations that were already in the digital transformation fold embraced and embedded digital L&D into their employee capability development and skilling interventions. For others, it was and still continues to be a slow transition towards the adoption of virtual learning that starts right from laying the foundation of making the decision to adopt digital learning. Despite the initial apprehensions, this new way of learning is proving to be a blueprint for the coming years. 

Reskilling, Upskilling, and Closing on the Skills Gaps in the New Normal

Even before the pandemic, the gap between employee capability and business objectives was staggering. With the advent of the health crisis, forcing employees to adopt new and agile ways of working, there has been a shift in focus on development and not just recruitment. 

To address this need, the L&D function is proved to be a critical enabler to close on the skill gap thus determining if the business survives or thrives in the coming years. For example, a sales rep that predominantly interacted with customers face-to-face must now lead conversation virtually. This requires the sales rep to acquire new skills such as setting up virtual meetings, leveraging collaboration tools, etc. The L&D teams have a bright opportunity to leverage the power of virtual learning to create new learning strategies to upskill and reskill their workforce that goes beyond providing access to the right technology.

What’s more, owing to the financial turbulence, a great many companies are compelled to reduce the size of their teams. This requires the workforce to be more nimble in their skill set. As per IDC’s FutureScape Future of Work 2020, predictions “by 2024, two-thirds of employees in high-performing G2000 enterprises will shift from static roles and processes to dynamic, multidisciplinary, outcome-focused reconfigurable teams”. In such a scenario, the L&D function needs to create a culture of continuous learning for learners to obtain new skills and adapt to new ways of working. 

Leveraging Digital Ecosystem and Analytics

Digital learning has been gaining traction for sometime. However, the pandemic has accelerated its speed of adoption. As per a popular study by Fosway, “How is COVID-19 Changing Learning?”, 71% of survey participants experienced increased demand for digital learning from end users. A key factor for businesses to succeed in the current times is how seamlessly their workforce adopts to the new digital learning ecosystem. L&D leaders need to be cognizant of the emerging digital technologies to invest in that aligns to the business goals.

With the increase in adoption of digital learning platforms, a large amount of analytics can be captured based on the user engagement. This wealth of data can be used to identify competency gaps and implement any course corrections required to the learning programs. 

Rethinking L&D Strategy

The health crisis has compelled many companies to rethink their business models in order to be more agile and resilient. Employee capabilities can be a key driver for businesses to stay relevant and successful in the long run. In such a scenario, the L&D function needs to re-evaluate its true value and relevance to the business outcomes. It needs to shed its long-standing image of being an activity-driven, cost centre outfit and start measuring metrics around business outcomes for long-term impact. These times of crisis have presented a great opportunity for L&D to innovate and be the catalyst to build a competent workforce driving organizational success. 

Want to be a part of the change and #DisruptTheNew? Join UpsideLMS on 3rd Dec at 3 PM IST in a thought-provoking roundtable discussion on employee skilling and development with the who’s who of L&D. Together, we will discuss, deliberate, and distil our knowledge on learning content, the tech stack and the entire ecosystem – its current state and the end goal. We will lay down the framework to get there and achieve that. After all, it’s all of us that can really #DisruptTheNew.

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