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The Future of: Corporate Training

The World Economic Forum has estimated that 50% of employees will need to be reskilled by 2025.

As we adjust to the new normal, we can see that corporate training initiatives are more important than ever.

But if you want people to feel safe attending these training sessions as they start to be held in-person, you need to follow the necessary trends in learning and development. To start with, follow the below tips (scroll to the end of the article for insights into online training programs).

Firstly, the pandemic has thrown everyone off kilter. Employees have realised that they have the right to expect more flexibility in how they work. This includes how they learn. Due to hybrid working, employees are learning digitally. They want the freedom to use apps, videos and podcasts to share ideas and be heard. Learners are no longer willing to sit and passively watch long lectures, especially after a year of having to passively sit at home. Jill Popelka, president of SAP SuccessFactors, said that people are more determined not to sit in a classroom for a week, and prefer “to engage with an expert who understands a lot more about a topic than they do, and bounce ideas off of them”.

You also have an obligation to provide a safe learning environment. Even when social distancing regulations are lifted, to keep learners safe, allow any group work to still be completed with participants somewhat distanced from each other so that learners can keep in their own physical or spatial bubbles if they prefer. This may require changes to the layout of the lecture/seminar room. If learners feel anxious about their surroundings, or unsure if their safety is being prioritised, this can have a detrimental effect on their ability to concentrate and retain information. All safety measures should be crystal clear to all attendees prior to the event.

Participants should also be encouraged to wear PPE such as masks, and their hands should be sanitised especially before and after touching paper handouts or other practical equipment. With regards to masks and hand sanitiser, we recommend having a supply available at the session, as we guarantee that at least one person will forget to bring their own and will need a mask to enter.

Your training development event will probably be split up into a few smaller events, to keep with the COVID-friendly capacity of the training venue. This will also allow for longer breaks, which is important as restrooms and kitchens will also have restrictions on how many people can be in them at the same time and therefore your guests will need more time to take it in turns to use these rooms.

However, learners may be reluctant to attend development events that are so spaced out (after all, we have been used to doing nothing more than tapping a quick Zoom link to instantly access an event for the past year and a half). A way to mitigate the need to keep rehosting the same training event multiple times for multiple smaller groups, is simply to record the speaking portions and/or demonstrations from the first session, so that it can then be replayed to further groups. This way, you can have unlimited groups of learners attending your events with no need to pay extra to accommodate them.

There will still be some learners who don’t want to attend in person despite your safety measurements, as it’s still safest for them to learn from home. In that case, aspects of your training development event will probably be recorded for on-demand viewing, as has been the case for some of our clients. The same principle applies here as for your learners: film it over a few days so that there is enough time for different groups or speakers to film their segments (if their segments require the use of demonstrative equipment or they otherwise cannot film effectively from home), and to allow to longer breaks for using the limited capacity restrooms and kitchens.

We have noticed that filming training sessions, so that they can easily be viewed on-demand but to a higher quality (and condensed storage space) compared to a basic Zoom call, is a key trend in learning and development. This is especially prevalent in knowledge-based institutions such as learned societies, because video content is being seen as a much easier way for learners to retain information, and savvy organisations are seeing this as just another benefit of ensuring that their training sessions can be viewed online, in addition to how much safer it makes these events to be held.

Why should my lectures not be held over Zoom?

The above point about video content being an excellent trend for learning and development is true, but there is a caveat. If the video is low quality (Zoom calls can only reach a maximum quality of 720p) or there are lags (which cannot happen if the video is recorded by an experienced team), this will damage the knowledge retention possibilities. It is hard for learners to concentrate and effectively retain knowledge if their viewing experience is not as smooth as possible, and is broken up by technical glitches. Therefore, if you are using video content for the purpose of improving your training program, do not undo this work by relying on Zoom, Skype or Teams.

For your online training programs, make sure to explicitly include online learners in the activities. With online learning being the norm for the past year, a trend in learning and development is that learners will expect to be accommodated for despite learning from home. Many employees, displeased with the low quality of online corporate training, are fed up of feeling neglected by comments such as “Just stick any questions in the chatbox and I’ll answer them if I have time at the end of the session”. They are just as much a part of your training event as in-person attendees would be, so engage them. Address them by name when they drop comments, and thank them for asking things. Make sure that they know that you care about their learning and development, despite the distance.

Overall, trends in learning and development show a significant shift towards practical online learning, but due to how common this is, learners expect these online programmes to be high quality and pay closer attention to their needs. With so many new training initiatives being rolled out, you should be making sure that your sessions do not fall behind in learner satisfaction.

Technical teams are needed by more and more organisations to ensure that your learners feel invigorated, and not fatigued, by online learning. For an engaging livestream and condensed, trimmed, recording of your corporate training events, email CPDonline.

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