Virtual learning will reshape the future of work
While online and virtual training programs have been in place for decades, they have been thrust into the spotlight in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Virtual trainings generally feature a multimodal approach with delivery methods including virtual instructor-led learning, webinars, videos and online self-study content. As they are primarily designed for remote employees, being able to provide anytime-anywhere training is vital when you're implementing virtual learning. Companies that explore creative ways of integrating their teaching style into a virtual environment and try to make the most of the learning experience are the ones who will be re-constructing the future of work for leading through the new normal and beyond.
How to deliver virtual training to remote and hybrid teams effectively
“Businesses with a strong learning culture have around 30-50% increased retention rates than those that don’t,” says Agata Nowakowska, AVP, EMEA, Skillsoft. One of the key elements of driving employee engagement in the workplace is providing staff members a fertile soil for growth and personal development. Today’s workforce is to a large extent distributed and diverse, and it wants to learn all the time, keep up with the digital realm that continuously transforms learning practices, and have a personalised learning experience free of temporal and spatial restrictions. Just as global shift to hybrid or purely remote work caught organisations off guard, the need to re-architect learning and development programs expectedly creates a whole bundle of new questions and challenges: What type of content do you need to offer? Which methods are best to deliver this content? How can you support the learner to strengthen learning outcomes and put them into practice?
Focus on content and delivery method to navigate virtual learning successfully
A well-rounded virtual learning program should offer more micro-learning options in the first place. Micro-learning is the practice of presenting the content in smaller modules by spreading the knowledge over time to make it easily accessible. When you fragment the training into modules, the learner can extend learning experience outside of the training ‘location’ and come back to the content later at the point of need.
The methods of delivery are as much important as the content design to turn virtual learning into a process rather than an event. A well-run session of virtual training offers divided chunks of content in the forms of videos, animation, quizzes, forums, Q&As, and storytelling. Also, creating remote activities such as mentoring sessions, group activities, an online library of tools, and workshops adds interaction to virtual learning and offers learners opportunities to initiate a stronger social connection which allow fluid and simultaneous idea sharing and collaboration.
Virtual learning programs are set up for success when learners are challenged. By weaving purposeful and achievable challenges you can keep learners involved while harnessing the power of friendly and team-based collaboration at the same time. Gamification is a great tool to create a more inspiring environment and reward learners for their accomplishments. This is an effective reinforcement which motivates employees to come back to learning platforms time and again and change their habits. A virtual learning program flourishes with follow-up coaching and skills practice. A 2021 study conducted by research and advisory firm Gartner among learning and development professionals found that when compared to virtual learning alone, employees were 1.5 times more likely to implement a newly learned skill when they received both virtual learning and coaching together on the skill.
The Role of Learning and Development Programs in Employee Wellbeing
Learning and development training and employee well-being rise in tandem. According to a report published by McKinsey & Company, one of the key roles of learning and development is to leverage employee engagement. Increased engagement helps drive productivity and make employees feel more satisfied with their progress. More satisfied and productive employees are, less susceptible they are to anxieties, stressors and poor mental resilience. In other words, you can keep well-being, health, and therefore job performance of your people on track simply by implementing regular learning and development training programmes as the growth through new learnings will help employees feel more confident and capable.
Yet, there is more when it comes to figure out how learning and development policies and employee wellbeing may nourish each other. While the primary focus of learning & development programs has been employee training and capability building for years, that focus has experienced a stronger shift towards mental health and wellbeing in the workplace as the pandemic highlighted an acute need for trainings that address pervasive mental stress and increase resilience. According to a survey conducted by MetLife in 2020, 79% of employees who report stronger mental health are less likely to feel estranged from their organisation. To keep employees engaged, productive and open-minded to accept new learnings we should untie them from stressors and unhealthy habits by designing a meaningful wellbeing path for them. And the best way for organisations to achieve this is to embed a holistic wellbeing program into their learning and development policies.
At Wellbees, we believe that it is possible to help people take on a lifetime journey of improved wellbeing by addressing these eight dimensions. Pulse surveys and questionnaires we run with our consultants show that a mobile-friendly and unified digital content platform makes a significant headway in bringing about change by spanning the full wellbeing spectrum including physical, mental, emotional aspects of life, sleep, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and financial wellbeing. Offering ‘just-in-time’ support to bring holistic wellbeing tips and expert advice is equally important to drive meaningful change to create a blended and engaged learning. We have also noted that our webinars and online stress resiliency trainings are exceptionally effective in reducing workplace stress and anxiety, and thus contributing to high retention and productivity across organisations.
To wrap up, the pandemic has undoubtedly transformed the learning experience for global workforce. We need to collaborate, learn new skills, upgrade existing capabilities and keep growing across time zones and borders in an increasingly remote world. This is a serious challenge before employers, which can be handled with multi-pronged corporate virtual training policies. With design in mind, virtual learning programmes require content suitable for micro-learning, and most effective methods of delivering the content are through videos, webinars, infographics, gamified tools and challenges. Follow-up coaching and practicing will finally contextualise what is learnt from trainings. Last but not least, it is important to remember the role of learning and development plays in sustaining employee’s wellbeing. On the one side, a solid learning and development will improve employee engagement and this will reflect positively on their wellbeing. On the other side, it is now essential more than ever that learning and development polices embrace a wellbeing program because a business thrives only if its employees are well looked after.
By Burcu Uluçay