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The rise of learning: a fleeting moment or a permanent shift?

Learning in a pandemic world

Based on how you’ve experienced 2020, what word would you use to describe it? Striking? Unexpected? Imposing? Well, for the L&D field, it’s been a defining year. Learning programs have shifted from a nice to have to a need to have, as companies have been forced to deliver training programs to employees in order to help them manage through the pandemic and stay productive while working from home. 

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But will this shift last in a post-Covid world? Yes, it will most probably do. Because companies have closed and workers have to find new jobs, probably in different fields, which imposes proper training programs. Thus, upskilling and reskilling have become a top priority, which must be supported by top management.

Case study: Avient

There are companies in which managers are already aware of the importance of L&D programs and have implemented strategies and training campaigns in order to drive engagement among employees. One of these companies is Avient Corporation, which has been making a transition to virtual training over the past years, and focused more on this transition during this pandemic, when they shifted their efforts towards keeping employees engaged while working from home.

Even though they have implemented various training strategies, they have faced a real challenge in terms of getting the employees to activate the learning programs. Thus, they decided to come up with a month of learning campaign, where the executive team has been really active in encouraging employees to get engaged, by sending weekly emails about the campaigns, emails which have been followed-up by the L&D team. 

The results? Engagement went through the roof, increasing from 40% to 95%, and engagement hit 95%. As their training specialists mentioned afterward, the challenge was to get them to activate their learning license, as once they did that, they actually engaged. (source)

So, to put everything together, we know that employees need to have access to learning programs and to actually give them a try. But we also know that people have more and more tasks to do nowadays, while still struggling with the shift that working from home has imposed, so they might be really reluctant to invest their time and energy into learning programs. This is where the management should intervene, working together with the L&D departments to bring awareness among employees regarding the training programs. 

Other learning related statistics

Going back to the permanence of this training shift, there are a lot of statistics which enforce the idea that learning is mandatory, not only in a pandemic world, but also in a post-Covid business environment. According to this LinkedIn learning report, 66% of L&Ds pros globally agree that L&D is focused on rebuilding and reshaping the organisation this year. Also, based on the business changes this year, 51% of L&Ds pros think that internal mobility is a priority, which means that the employees must be prepared to take on other responsibilities, which is only possible in the presence of specific training programs. 

Moreover, the generation Z, which will represent the majority of workforce soon, is more and more focused on the idea of investing in knowledge and they watched 50% more hours per learner of training content in 2020 vs 2019, with 76% of them believing that learning is the key to a successful career. 

Another important statistic to take into consideration with your corporate learning strategy is that learners who use social features, such as communities of practice and Q&A sessions watch 30x more hours of learning content than learners who don’t. Thus, you should focus more on the social aspect of training while creating a trainingstrategy, as it’s an important aspect in driving engagement. 

Some (final) thoughts

Based on all the evidence and on what has happened in the business world during this pandemic, the rise of learning is not a fleeting moment, but rather a permanent shift, as most of L&D teams and executive teams have understood the importance of keeping employees trained and ready for every challenge that might appear, either we’re talking about upskilling or about preparing them to fight a crisis as this one that we’ve encountered starting last year.

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