Reset L&D strategy in times of the crisis

Digital-learning providers recognize that COVID-19 is a catalyst for this transition and are looking to help their corporate customers accelerate their transformation.

What’s the one common thing between successful businesses of all shapes and sizes, across geographies and industries? A continuous learning culture, amongst other things. And driving this culture is a bunch of committed individuals (L&D or HR) and robust systems that work day-in and day-out to ensure that employees have instant access to learning – when and where it’s needed, are always updated with the latest company/ product/ industry/ role-related information, and are able to advance in their career.

As businesses around the world postpone and cancel in-person meetings in response to the novel coronavirus, workplace learning is emerging as one of the earliest and hardest-hit business activities. With our normal routines on pause, we are all starting to realize that humans are very social creatures and isolation is unnatural and hard for us. Our lives are more fulfilling when we’re together.

We crave interaction, connection, and exploration. We’re dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety. And the future of our jobs, our companies, and the economy is uncertain. When we’re under severe stress, we go back to coping patterns that are familiar and very hardened in us, and we have a hard time seeing that there’s any other way to do what we’re doing. We think we’re right and others are wrong. This isn’t good for your interactions between teams. We unwittingly break our relationships with coworkers, causing more suffering. Compassion correlates with one’s own level of job satisfaction and the degree to which you find your work meaningful.

Leaders and learning and development (L&D) professionals are quickly discovering that traditional learning solutions no longer cut it in today’s constantly evolving scenario.

“In our global and widely connected world, leadership and L&D must come together to create an innovative workforce that is resilient, agile, and highly adaptive. As the pandemic drives employees out of the office and remote work becomes the norm, cybersecurity also becomes a major concern.”

COVID-19 has arm-twisted every prepared and unprepared company to operate remotely. With or without any prior business continuity planning, employees are suddenly evicted from the office and told to operate from home with a hastily assembled bag of available tech tools to make that work.

However, businesses can’t afford to put capability building on hold. Whether the effort is reskilling at the business-unit level or a company-wide aspirational transformation, companies can’t simply push the pause button on critical workplace learning, even as they move rapidly to put employee safety first.

To continue enabling and delivering value-creating efforts, learning leaders have a number of tactical steps they can consider to protect employees, adapt programs and delivery, and establish and expand virtual live learning. Digital and virtual learning programs were already on the rise before COVID-19 struck, and we already see a marked increase in such learning programs, which many younger employees embrace. Digital-learning providers recognize that COVID-19 is a catalyst for this transition and are looking to help their corporate customers accelerate their transformation. Some are even offering reduced or complementary services to help encourage new customers to accelerate such a transition.

Design thinking is allowing companies to respond quickly and effectively to the complex problems presented by the now global scope of organizations. The benefits of cultivating creativity in your organization are infinite, and the challenges presented are certainly surmountable. When creativity is cultivated in organizations, better business outcomes are sure to follow. Organizations with innovative and creative solutions will be better prepared to react and adapt when they encounter new obstacles and opportunities. Additionally, when creativity is implemented in design thinking, your instructional design team will deliver training solutions that resonate with learners and drive behavioral change and productivity that will benefit your business.

Organizations need to rely on design thinking to redefine roles, processes that require a new wave of capabilities and skillsets. In fact, organizations can look at it as a huge opportunity to rethink their existing processes, come up with new ones, take a broader perspective to add value to these and develop processes that ultimately lead them to new horizons. Thanks to the fourth industrial revolution, technology has already begun to change the way jobs are undertaken. Automation, AI, ML, Robotics and other digital technologies have replaced people when it comes to repetitive and routine jobs.

Beyond tactical steps, there are strategic measures, such as exploring alternative digital learning strategies that managers can develop during this time of social distancing. The stronger learning capabilities that emerge could stand as a positive long-term outcome from this sobering period.

Customers also should be well informed about how the company is taking measures to address their challenges while demonstrating value. Companies need to find out any which way to reach out to their customers and help them get through this situation together. Safety and well-being of a company’s internal customers – its workforce should be a top focus. By keeping the communication lines open between employees and the management, a lot can be accomplished. 

The Bright Side

Perhaps our new reality will include good things. From what I have seen over these past few weeks, I can imagine that this crisis will lead to deeper compassion and empathy for our colleagues &neighbors, banding together as a human race to stop a common threat, expressing gratitude more frequently, living in the moment with loved ones, and finding pleasure in simple things.  

We already see Philanthropists and Corporate Houses committing large sums of money to help communities in need. The Indian government has already announced relief schemes. Philanthropists and Corporate Houses have committed large sums of money to help communities in need. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced medical insurance of Rs. 50 lakh per individual for health workers for three months. Benefiting 4.8 crore employees, the government also amended EPFO regulations to allow workers under EPFO to draw up to 75 percent of their non-refundable advance or 3 months of wages, whichever is lower.

The Indian government has also announced a package of Rs 15,000 crore to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure in the country. 

So, in these troubled times, when all of us strive to do our best and be our best; when interdependency and uncertainty are the rules, rather than the exception; when we are called to act with and for the good of the whole; when each of us can commit to choosing life, we must stop talking about VUCA. As empathetic humans, we can stop seeing ourselves as victims of these chaotic times. Instead, we can find the will and the capacity to work within our complex systems, seeking out ways to dial-up our humanity and take full advantage of altruism, compassion, and empathy in all of us. Together, we will thrive, when we see, understand, and influence patterns toward health and wellbeing for each and for all. 


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