Putting learning back on the agenda in the new ‘hybrid normal’

By taking a bite-sized approach to training we aim to ensure that training is more digestible for our staff, with fewer all-day training courses that both leaders and staff dread on their calendar – particularly when they involve staring at a screen for hours on end. Fatigue from video conferencing” is real and long online training sessions simply are not going to cut it, writes Helen Attia, Human Resources Director, Civica Asia Pacific

The pandemic continues to accelerate a digital shift for many organisations. Before the events of last year some companies would never have dreamed they could continue to operate in a world of fully remote work. But while many companies have managed the transition well to date, the shift has not been without its challenges, many of which are only now starting to become clearer.

“Zoom Fatigue”, remote onboarding of new employees and a weakening of culture and team cohesion are just some of the many drawbacks of the remote working environment. For HR practitioners and leaders, the question that is front of mind is how do we continue to engage our workers from remote locations and keep them up to date with their learning and development.

The reality is that learning and development in the office environment, particularly for younger staff, comes about through a sort of ‘osmosis’ – observation and overhearing that are not possible in a remote environment.

With many employees indicating they would prefer to continue working primarily from home, it’s imperative that businesses address these new realities and support and enable their employees and their business strategy as they shift toward a more permanent hybrid model.

While the disruption of a global pandemic may have caused leaders to put training and development on the backburner this isn’t sustainable long term.

A bite-sized approach to training
At Civica, we’re confronting this issue head on, overhauling our approach to learning and development globally by shifting to a bite-sized training approach. After all, three quarters (74 per cent) of our staff have told us they would like the ability to work from home, while also having the option of working at the office.

By taking a bite-sized approach to training we aim to ensure that training is more digestible for our staff, with fewer all-day training courses that both leaders and staff dread on their calendar – particularly when they involve staring at a screen for hours on end. Fatigue from video conferencing” is real and long online training sessions simply are not going to cut it.

Instead, we’ve found that bite-sized training sessions lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours prolong the positive benefits of training, promote better work life balance, and integrate learning into our employees’ daily routines.

Relevancy is key
Bite-sized or not, making sure the training is relevant to staff has been critical. There is no point spending time and resources on bite-sized training if the modules are not tailored to company objectives or staff goals. We ensure our managers and staff meet four times a year with the purpose of discussing their career ambitions, personal development goals and areas of interest We have also created a number of resources such a ‘personal development guide’ and a ‘check-in calendar’.

Some of the other ways we have fostered more engagement in learning since the pandemic include:

  • Making training sessions interactive. It’s hard to bring the same energy to video calls as we would face-to-face and if training modules are exclusively reading and answering questions, staff lose attention fast, so we engage our team by being creative with how we give them training. We use surveys or questionnaires as a way of keeping people engaged and making sure our staff have just as much say as we do. We also mix it up by watching Youtube videos such as TED talks on leadership and creating online discussions to share our opinions after the fact.
  • Uniting the leadership team. Nothing makes or breaks culture faster than the leadership team’s actions and behaviours. By showing new and existing staff that our leadership team celebrate learning objectives, we’re aiming to take our staff’s aspirations to the next level.

With more ownership correlating to more engagement, our ultimate goal for learning and development is to make each employee their own Chief Learning Officer, ready to take charge of their learning journey. The bite sized training platform makes it easier for staff to achieve this, tailoring their training to their own personal goals, ambitions and learning styles.

The reality is that learning and development in the office environment, particularly for younger staff, comes about through a sort of ‘osmosis’ – observation and overhearing that are not possible in a remote environment.

Looking to the future
We believe in the power of this new approach to learning so much that we now intend to bring the power of bite sized learning to our customers too. It’s why we recently acquired the digital learning platform, Agylia. Established in the UK, Agylia helps organisations around the world support, develop and engage their people through innovative learning management and eLearning solutions.

While the disruption of a global pandemic may have caused leaders to put training and development on the backburner this isn’t sustainable long term. Now more than ever, learning must be put back at the forefront of business strategy – and adapted for the realities of our hybrid future.

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