Life is changing and so are we, learning something new and growing. Significant challenges posed by the global pandemic have pushed the business towards promptly rethinking their business approaches. Companies face new risks, including those stemming from productivity issues. Our experience, both as consumers and as professionals, has also changed, giving rise to new behaviours and expectations. The workplace organisation has shifted paradigm, alongside the radical changes in the way of living as we knew it.
These factors have all driven changes in business trends and HR processes, with everyone having to quickly adapt to new complex ways of working, mostly from their homes. We have found ourselves in a completely new environment.
In L&D, we see a critical driver defining key trends for 2021 and several years thereafter: the digital transformation.
Let’s take a look at the developments expected over the short term.
Transformation and digital development
Restrictions on face-to-face communications presented us with a choice: we could either embrace remote learning or put all learning initiatives on hold. PwC Academy chose to continue working. Over the space of several days, the Academy’s business model underwent digital transformation, becoming an innovation think tank. Training migrated from a classroom (offline) format to an online format using digital tools.
- The remote training market is on the rise: many companies are considering innovative L&D solutions, providers have improved their existing solutions (or offer new solutions) for online classes and remote interaction between tutors and students via Google, ZOOM, Microsoft teams, WebEx.
- Learning management systems (LMS) are improving: new functionalities appear, a number of new exciting remote performance appraisal projects have launched. According to HolonIQ, the level of investment in EdTech reached a record high in 2020, with the global EdTech market expected to grow to USD 10 trillion driven, among other things, by the growing demand for digital learning solutions.
- Corporate universities are on the rise, boasting new experience and competencies in webinars and online trainings, developing remote learning courses and online course methodologies. It is now clear that corporate learning needs adequate infrastructure in order to be effective.
Remote learning is the biggest trend in professional education.
Shifting learner’s profile
A learner’s profile in the digital world can be characterised by three words: impatient, easily distracted, pressured.
• Impatient: most learners will not watch videos longer than 4 minutes during the training courses.
• Easily distracted: employees turn to their smartphones, on average, nine times an hour and are distracted every five minutes.
• Pressured: they only have 1% of the work week to focus on learning and development.
The good news is, employees want to learn and develop.
Key question to answer: which training format will be the most accessible?
Short learning formats gain popularity. Being a quick learner is an important skill (both today and going forward). Therefore, short learning formats continue to develop. Skills are important, but so is the mindset for the entire organisation. L&D teams need to learn how to work with those mindsets and create them. Recently there was significant demand for short specialist courses. Flexible custom-tailored personalised learning is the latest trend.
Corporate training becomes more and more personalised. Off-the-shelf basic courses are being replaced by personalised products developed to address both the employer’s needs and the employee’s preferences. People will spend less time looking for information as the system will independently identify what needs to be learned and how to integrate new knowledge/skills in the working process.
Hybrid offices and combined work formats are becoming the new normal. Knowledge and skills are needed in the here and now and the ability to immediately test and implement what has just been learned is already a given.
This translates into new approaches to developing learning materials and methodologies. Alongside the changing tools and techniques offered by the learning programmes, the ways of measuring learning efficiency will also change.
What drives engagement?
- Microlearning and situational learning
Helps identify precisely when and where to develop skills in line with business needs
- Learning innovation
New methods (gamification, animation) not only provide the motivation to learn but also enhance the learning experience to meet employees’ expectations
- One-on-one work
Working and consulting with each student during the learning event. Mentor support triggering emotional response and motivating for future learning
- Digital literacy
The autonomous life of the digital world is on the rise: IoT, self-organising networks create a new reality, become customary attribute of both work and life, provide new opportunities to gain knowledge, make and develop business
- Updated corporate learning topics
Providing tailored L&D opportunities to staff contributes to continuous growth of the talent quality. Working closely with heads of departments and project managers within the organisations helps find out which internal L&D approach is the right fit for the organisation’s talent.
A number of programmes and areas is now available to support the new operating model and maintain productivity during the remote work. The focus has shifted towards developing soft and digital skills of the talent.
Digital skills Dispersed team management skills, learning remote collaboration tools
Soft skills Courses focusing on stress management, managing personal productivity in remote working, well-being and mental health
Efficient collaboration in a hybrid environment will remain a hot topic for a long time.
Lockdown restrictions drove innovation and new solutions: soft skills training (negotiation, internal corporate communication skills, etc.) successfully migrated online from the classroom. The Academy’s experience delivering virtual classroom tuition shows that, when done correctly, the interactivity and involvement of students is at par with offline classroom training.
According to the World Economic Forum, 50% employees will need to be reskilled by 2025.
At PwC, 77% of 22 thousand people surveyed said that they want to develop and improve in their profession, learn new knowledge and skills to enhance their competitive position in the labour market (according to PwC Talenttrends 2020 study).
For the business to remain competitive in the years to come, its people need to adapt to learning and development in the new environment, embracing the lifelong learning approach. Even the most revolutionary startup could not survive without constantly adapting to new industry trends and innovation. This will increase the demand for corporate learning as it is critical to retain the shared collaboration field for the employees, maintain and enhance their competencies, be prepared for the new challenges.
People should be encouraged to look for new ways to improve their skills, be it by taking online courses, gamification, establishing a team of like-minded individuals and team events. This will help people become more proactive in terms of learning.
Flexible and adaptable remote learning helps address the knowledge gap between employees.
The last year has shown that people, their safety and well-being are at heart of any changes. We have learned to do everything remotely, from working and communicating to learning.
Online learning becomes an important part of workforce training, and the corporate learning addressing business needs is a powerful tool that can be leveraged by the business to enhance its competitive edge.
The 2020 success stories inspire us to develop our ability (and willingness!) to learn and relearn, adapt and apply our knowledge and experience in the ever-changing world.