2020 has just started but it has been already a quite eventful year in international news, with of course the biggest challenge of all so far: the COVID-19 epidemic. While there has been incessant talk about the facts of the disease and virus, I would like to focus on a broader and more comprehensive view of some Learning and Development trends that are highlighted even more in this situation and pose new challenges and opportunities for HR in these times of uncertainty.
The prime role of technology
Firstly, as we talked about before, the last few years have seen a surge in tech-based learning solutions. Keeping up with the ever-changing digitalization, however, can be a real challenge for companies as HR have to strive to maintain the quality of the learning content while also creating appealing core competencies update programs.
Given the complex task of updating a company’s strategy, could this special time be the opportunity to focus on forwarding digital learning initiatives?
This year there has also been a rise in the attention to “Power Skills” – core expertise comprised of a mix of soft skills, thinking skills and digital skills – as a basic requirement for new hires. This means that, in a hiring market affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, the post-onboarding internal learning offer must focus on hard skills and industry-related knowledge, making the L&D planning very sector-specific and in need of strong customization from each organization. According to LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers: this indicates that maintaining constant upskilling initiatives is directly connected to talent retention and business growth in the medium-long term.
In a constantly evolving situation, reskilling the workforce on newer technology can give organizations a further concrete advantage in the post-epidemic recovery business scenario. In my team, for example, we all have been taking the time to catch up with professional certifications and digital tools we found ourselves too busy for just a few months ago.
Integrating learning in daily operations
Another interesting ongoing trend is striving to create readily-available learning opportunities for workers: learning chunks that can be made accessible in the work environment as needed (inside a word document, in the conference call software) to avoid attention loss and extra steps in the content fruition. This, of course, requires a fair amount of digital preparation but, the COVID-19 epidemic presents a great opportunity to take the time to strategize. If employers are going to be the new “educators” for the more and more specialized workforce, undertaking this challenge could prove the winning strategy to manage the learner’s interest and achieve effective business results.
Readiness for change even more crucial
Lastly, the overall greatest push for action is the growing need for organizations to prepare their employees to deal with massive changes, both in the business environment as well as internal strategy, that will come regardless of the current epidemic. In uncertain times, a well-informed and prepared workforce can be a huge asset to the company’s stability and brand recognition. HR are therefore tasked with navigating options for companies restructuring with foresight and compassion.
Given this complex scenario, how does the epidemic play into the efforts to plan effective L&D strategies for 2020? What are the opportunities that HR can find in this uncertain situation?