We’re living through remarkable times. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, businesses were going through an unprecedented transformation.
Over the last few years, rapidly advancing technology, from cloud computing to AI and smartphones, has been transforming the way that we interact with each other in the workplace. It’s impacting the way we communicate, how we make decisions and how we learn.
These changes bring their own challenges and opportunities, and the degree to which we’re ready for them is debatable. Take financial services as an example – a sector which you might expect to be relatively tech savvy and future facing.
According to research by Accenture, over two-thirds of financial services executives believe that AI will be critical to their organisation’s ability to stand out as a leader in the market.
And yet they also believe that only around a quarter of their employees are actually ready to work with these kinds of technologies.
Whether that’s true or not, it’s clear that we’re already living through a time when demands on employees are growing. A time when the skills they need to be fit for the future are changing, whether they’re ready or not.
All this, and then the crisis of COVID-19 hits.
Throughout 2020 we’ve seen change accelerate dramatically. The pandemic has rapidly transformed the way so many of us work. Companies have had to shift to new operating models almost overnight. And their long-term plans for gradual organisational change have suddenly become today’s new reality.
The future of learning and development
So, what does all this mean for learning and development? Well, with employee safety and compliance a priority during the ongoing pandemic, delivering training and embedding knowledge effectively has clearly never been as critical as it is right now.
Whether it’s new regulatory requirements, changing health and safety rules or new processes and technology to learn, the pressure on employees to adapt and take on knowledge is unprecedented. And with no end in sight to the pandemic, many of these changes are now likely to become deep-rooted and cultural.
The challenge for learning and development professionals is that right now, due to COVID-19, businesses are working with increasingly global, disparate and diverse workforces. That represents a huge challenge for people managers and senior leaders who are struggling for a clear sense of how all this new knowledge is landing.
A new way of learning
So, how do we reach and train these people effectively?
Clearly, in-person training has become increasingly unviable. The experts at McKinsey Accelerate reveal that around half of in-person training programmes have been cancelled in the US. Almost all have been cancelled in Asia and Europe.
Even before COVID, digital and virtual learning programmes were growing in popularity. Now, their use is accelerating rapidly. And yet while this works well for some sections of the workforce, others struggle. So how do we make sure no one is left behind?
Our take on this issue is that for learning and development to be effective, the technology should always help people to see for themselves how and where they can improve their own skills. Giving people more responsibility for their own learning journey helps them to see how they can excel in their chosen future role.
The bottom line is we need to find new ways to help employees to learn independently, not just face-to-face. And we also need to help managers to quickly and easily see how their workforce is taking on this new knowledge, who is performing well and who needs more support. COVID-19 has starkly highlighted these challenges.
Building positive cultural change
For many workers, the changes brought on by the pandemic offer a glimpse of the workplace of the future.
Post-COVID, we believe there’s a huge opportunity for lasting, positive change in business. While the circumstances behind this transformation are tragic, COVID-19 has forced many companies to try new things, to innovate and be more creative. They’ve had to, in order to survive financially.
But crucially it’s underlined how they also need to make sure that they’re bringing all of their people along with them, equipping them with the skills they need to be happy and successful employees in this new world.That kind of mass cultural change requires everyone in your business, wherever they are, to be involved in learning and to feel engaged and informed in a regular and consistent way.
And, with the devastating financial impact of the pandemic a very real issue, companies are also keen to have ways of ensuring and evidencing a return on any investment they make in training.
We believe the right technology will be crucial to making sure all of this new knowledge sticks, for everyone. To find out how Cognito can help you in your own business, give us a call today on 01423 203 733.