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Learning & Development - what is the future?

Napthens - December 8th 2020

2020 has been a different year for everyone and we have all experienced changes to the way we do things. Businesses have had to adapt their operations to enable changes to the workforce or operational practices. One area that has certainly been impacted is L&D. Gone has the ability to crowd 20 colleagues into a conference room for a 2 hour training session. But does that mean training has been put on hold or have we found other ways?

Here at Napthens, we learnt early on that we needed to adapt our training methods for clients and have conducted many sessions virtually. Whilst we were able to utilise existing material, this had to be carefully thought out for the virtual audience. Initially, converting to online was exciting, getting to grips with new technology and from the comfort of our own homes meant we had far wider reach than before. But roll forward 9 or so months, zoom and Microsoft teams’ meetings have now started taking its toll with zoom fatigue certainly setting in.

In addition to this, companies that needed to conduct manual training such as health and safety training still required a face to face presence. This has led to them needing to be inventive by using outdoor spaces or running multiple sessions in order to ensure social distancing is maintained.

So are we likely to continue with virtual training post Covid?

Well I think there is certainly a space for it. Whilst there are a lot of training types that would benefit from everyone coming together in one room, that does not mean online training shouldn’t continue. In fact, given its ability to reach so many people in one go, its great for being able bring remote/field-based staff together without it impacting on operations too much. However, trainers will need to be creative to avoid participants turning into zoom zombies.

Given that training budgets are also likely slashed or removed completely in some cases, businesses will need to be creative to ensure development is still being offered to their employees.

Top tips to create an engaging online session:

  1. Have a technical person available. This is essential to avoid unnecessary disruptions, having a smooth session is key to keeping your participants interested.
  2. Ensure you provide instructions to join the session in advance. We don’t want people joining late because they haven’t received their instructions.
  3. Include mini activities during the session, utilise breakout rooms to make groups a more manageable size to encourage discussion, encourage the use of waive your hand to ask/answer questions or the chat facility to enable everyone to remain muted during the session.
  4. Use visuals rather than text. No one likes death by power point, bring the subject matter to life by using pictures or videos.
  5. Limit your session to 90 minutes, however the ideal length is 60 minutes to avoid your participants turning into zoom zombies.

One thing employers need to consider following any training session, is whether the learning has been embedded. Whilst many employers are good at offering training to its employees, follow up is often forgotten about and unless an issue occurs, it is difficult to assess whether the training was successful or not.

There are many ways to assess whether training was successful. Following up with the individual some time after their training session, and asking them questions to assess their knowledge is one way. However, when it comes to soft skills training such as conflict management or communication this will often require a practical assessment. But how do we do this?

Well recently HR Grapevine reported that a management training firm had advertised for an individual to act as a workplace bully to support this stage of training. It was reported that as part of their role, they would be expected to create a short period of conflict, usually 10 minutes to assess how the manager would react in a difficult real-life scenario.

It is important to note that it was a training company who were looking to recruit this role and in reality it would be difficult for normal businesses to replicate this activity, however there are plenty of things you can implement post training. Implementing a buddy system would enable the employee to learn whilst working alongside a competent individual. Having someone shadow the individual when they are handling a matter will not only give them confidence but will enable the other person to assess how well they performed. Whatever method is chosen, it is essential that feedback is given and documented with any further follow up required.

Napthens can provide onsite or virtual training to businesses covering a range of topics. If you feel your team could benefit from this service, please get in touch to discuss your needs further.