No one, whatever their industry or profession, could have expected this year to have unfolded as it has. It’s fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has totally reshaped the working landscape as we know it – and with it, the skills that employees need to adapt.

Considering that a majority of companies still have their workforces working from home, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the need to use soft skills and the demand for professional development has dropped off.

In fact, the very opposite is happening, and workers are hungry to consume learning content. It’s just that the way that learning is being delivered, and the circumstances it’s being delivered under, have changed this first half of 2020. Here are a few of the ways that workplace learning has shifted.

1. Companies are turning to online learning

While a learning management system, or LMS, is not a new concept, the new work-from-home culture means that often the only way to now train your employees is remotely, via a cloud-based solution that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Businesses increasingly recognise this – a recent global survey by Deloitte found that almost 70 per cent of companies regard online learning as urgent or important.

2. L&D teams are experiencing budget cuts during the pandemic

As companies face unprecedented uncertainty about the future, it’s no surprise that many are looking for ways to survive financially. This means they’re making spending cuts across departments, including L&D departments. In fact, 71 per cent have seen their teams’ budgets decrease over 2020, according to a survey of L&D professionals by content providers Go1.

3. There’s an upsurge in demand for learning

Though they’re working with smaller budgets, L&D teams are finding that they need to upskill employees rapidly and support their professional development to meet the shifting needs of the new workplace. In the same survey, 42 per cent said that their company’s L&D projects have become higher priority since COVID-19 began. The upshot of this is that, from a financial point of view, L&D teams need to do more with less.

4. HR managers and L&D teams need to demonstrate ROI more clearly than ever

Unsurprisingly, the implications of this squeeze on spending means that every dollar spent on employee training amid the pandemic needs to be justified. This means that when choosing an online learning provider or new tools to deliver learning, HR and L&D managers need clear, easy-to-understand solutions packages to make it easy to show executives the business case for upskilling existing employees. This can include learner engagement, improved role KPIs and less employee turnover.

5. Soft skills are one of the most popular topics among learners

While there’s certainly less – or, in most cases, zero – in-person interaction among colleagues as they work remotely from home, workers are seeking out learning content that builds their soft skills. According to Go1, “Emotional Intelligence: Self-Management” was its third most popular course in the first half of 2020. The company says that other content modules that have been trending include resilience, mindfulness, managing stress, leadership and compliance.

In conclusion…

There are many changes happening across workplaces and the ways that companies need to deliver learning and support to their people amid COVID-19. While technology can support this remotely, it’s important that it simultaneously gives employees a sense of connection as they work physically separated from their teammates. One thing is certain: matching these priorities with the right content and tools has become more essential than ever.

Want detailed insights into these trends and more? Download the full Go1 State of Learning: Learning at Work report here

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Ewa Jaremka


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