Adapting Workforce Learning for Today, and Tomorrow: Part I

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Today’s business environment has put many workforce learning and development (L&D) initiatives on-hold. According to a recent McKinsey report, businesses around the world are postponing or cancelling in-person training programs in response to COVID-19, workplace learning is emerging as one of the earliest and hardest-hit business initiatives. 1

Based on their observations in early March, roughly fifty percent of in-person programs through June 30, 2020, have been postponed or canceled in North America; while in parts of Asia and Europe, that figure is closer to 100 percent.1

How can you ensure workforce development continues in spite of these new working conditions? What are some strategies and tactics learning professionals can implement now to help future-proof learning?

Businesses can’t afford to keep capability building on-hold, whether the effort is upskilling at the business-unit level or enterprise-wide learning transformation. Upskilling initiatives are essential to ensuring companies have the skills required to achieve their key goals — to stay competitive both now and into the future. Furthermore, the 2019 Upskilling Initiatives Survey, compiled for Raytheon Professional Services by Training Industry, Inc., shows 90% of companies see a direct correlation between upskilling and improved employee performance.

What is clearly different today is that keeping people safe and reducing risk has, for now, displaced cost as the key driver behind digital learning.1

Current events have revealed the stark reality that many organizations are not as able to provide critical learning anytime, anywhere as they may have thought. Digital and virtual learning programs were already on the rise prior to current events.  Now is the time for learning leaders to adapt their learning programs and establish or expand their virtual learning offerings.

How to Expand Virtual Learning

Start by gaining a clear, comprehensive view of your learning offerings. Depending on the size of your learning portfolio, this may be a daunting task, so start by establishing a response team composed of members from all relevant stakeholder groups. This group should include HR business partners, key business partners, learning design and development personnel, IT and learning platform technologists, and your strategic external learning partner. You should work together to establish decision points about the criteria for canceling, deferring, or converting a program.

Then, conduct a rapid triage of your learning portfolio, setting priorities, and identifying what it will take to adapt it to a virtual or digital format. Once you have a full understanding of your portfolio, begin to prioritize what learning will be transformed first. This step is critical as you can’t digitize everything, as some skills are best taught in a classroom environment. Be strategic in your decision-making. Be strategic in how you allocate resources, as time is of the essence.

We recommend establishing criteria based on a combination of metrics:

  • How critical is the learning to the performance of the business?
  • How soon will the effects be felt by the business?
  • How many learners will be impacted?
  • How suitable is the topic for virtual/digital delivery?
  • What pieces could be blended to cover critical topics now?

Give priority to your must-have programs such as recurring compliance and regulatory training. Then consider offering learning to help your employees adapt to their new work environment, such as remote-working skills, remote-management skills and leadership skills in a time of crisis. 

Using good decision-making during this critical time requires the right information and data. Performance Analytics is the engine that uncovers insights and reveals hidden value to define new, targeted learning interventions. Raytheon Professional Services’expertise in proven descriptive, predictive and inferential learning analyses deliver results for our clients.

Learning that is better aligned to key business goals

For instance, we helped one of our clients mine and analyze data from 1.5 million Repair Orders, including areas of repairs, root causes, actual repairs, and performance indicators. Our analytics experts found that the top 20 root causes (from a total of more than 400) represented 50% of all Repair Orders. In addition, that 98% of the Repair Orders were actually covered by the top 20 repairs (from nearly 100 repairs in total).These new insights enabled us to identify the most frequent, most challenging tasks, and rethink the learning priorities to address the most critical business issues.

Accelerating learners’ time to proficiency

By increasing a client’s learning blend to 36% (from 10%) and refocusing instructor-led sessions on skill practice and validation, we were able to compress the on-boarding curriculum to 8 weeks from 20, without deteriorating post-test scores or on-the-job performance.

Finally, establish several viable programs that can be rolled out within six weeks or less. Work with your strategic external learning partner to establish milestones, and prioritize the list of programs to be redesigned into a digital format.

If your organization is considering migrating additional in-person learning to virtual environments, Raytheon Professional Services understands this effort goes beyond merely applying existing technology solutions to offer virtual classrooms. It represents a rethinking of the learning experience to enable collaborative, interactive social-learning experiences. We recognize COVID-19 is a catalyst for this transition; and can help you accelerate your digital transformation.

In Part II of this Blog series, we’ll share strategies and insights to help you build long-term digital learning capabilities; how enhancing the learning experience overall can create positive outcomes from these difficult times.

Reach Out to RPS

Establishing a response team, triaging and prioritizing your learning programs: Raytheon Professional Service’ learning and consulting experts can help you develop and implement a digital learning strategy that will deliver real results for your learning organization and your learners.

Contact us and find out how we can help, or visit us at RPS.com to learn more.

How have you enhanced the digital capabilities of your learning organization? What experiences and lessons learned would you like to share? Start a conversation in the comments below or connect with us on LinkedIn, or at @RaytheonRPS using hashtags, #learning, #training,#virtuallearning, #digitallearning, and #onlinelearning.

FOOTNOTE

1 McKinsey. (March 2020.) Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-accelerate/our-insights/adapting-workplace-learning-in-the-time-of-coronavirus.