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Learning & Development’s Role in Operational Efficiencies in 2022

The last two years have been traumatic and overwhelming for the whole world. The Pandemic changed the way the world functioned in many ways. 2021 was expected to ease things a bit, but the resurgence of variants of the virus put paid to any plans of return to normalcy.

And as the Omicron variant spreads across the globe, all plans for a complete return to the office is anyone’s guess. Learning and Development teams of companies are working overtime to figure out ways to keep the organizations functioning in these difficult times.

In fact, it were the L&D teams that were instrumental in bringing about wider acceptance of innovative measures, processes and strategies, including reimagining how employees learn to work in a digitized world. Training Industry research found that over half of learning and development (L&D) professionals have retooled or repurposed learning programs in response to the Pandemic. In addition, the L&D teams helped companies transition to wide-scale digitization and mobilization of processes and upskilling and training staff to get their jobs done, regardless of where and how they were placed.

Here we bring you a few learning and development trends for 2022 to help companies introduce impactful and efficient training programs.

Training Remote Managers

According to Mckinsey & Company, “Leaders have an essential role to play in developing solutions to tackle these challenges.” Managers will increasingly need to take up more innovative roles to manage disparate and dispersed teams.

They will need further training in measuring the performance and engagement of a remote workforce.

  • Learn to address the lacuna observed in the preceding year and align the organization’s needs with that of the employees and the organization’s shifts in policies.
  • Reset expectations in a remote team environment.
  • Learn how to support colleagues and be flexible with them to enable success.
  • Working with a hybrid workforce

The Pandemic forced almost all organizations to transition to work from home, but with the waning of the disease, the solutions being thrown up were a mix of in-office and off site work weeks. “Our research finds that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure,” writes Brian Kropp, distinguished vice president at Gartner. The firm’s researchers have also found that “48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after Covid-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.”

training and development

Companies are becoming more flexible about their workweek and are open to some of the workforce working offsite, a kind of rotational shift where teams can meet onsite some days.

As of June 2021, according to Quantum Workplace, 30% of employees considered themselves hybrid employees and 35% of employees reported working remotely. These numbers are supposed to increase in the coming year and will be challenging for team leaders and managers. Imparting training in such a scenario will be difficult in terms of platform/device compatibility, Internet connectivity, employee distraction/focus, fixing rotas and time management.

Training modules will be hybrid

According to Training magazine’s 2020 Training Industry Report most respondents (54%) indicated that they plan to return to some classroom training post-pandemic while maintaining some remote learning instituted during the crisis. Another 12% said they plan to return to classroom training as usual once the Pandemic is over.

What has become clear now is that the days of onsite classroom training are over, and online learning is here to stay. Before the Pandemic, people were still debating the pros and cons of online training and learning, but the Pandemic has shown that it can be done online. It is feasible and a good cost-effective alternative. It makes training and learning more accessible. 

With higher participation rates and fewer distractions, classroom-based training can actually cost much less to develop than interactive eLearning content. In addition, later, live interactions and training in a real classroom can be used as training material.

Moreover, employees are increasingly doing self-learning with the availability of YouTube videos, massive open learning courses (MOOCs), and other resources. Fosway Group reports that in 2020, there was a 71% increase in demand for digital learning.

Handling a Liquid workforce of contractors and freelancers

The labor market is skewed in favor of the employee. The great resignation and refusal to compromise on compensation and health have led to a scramble to retain and acquire new talent. Freelancing and consulting have become more popular options. Many organizations also have a talent pool that includes a high proportion of part-time employees. The new year will see more companies relying on consultants and contractors to fill in the talent gap.

L&D teams will have to gear up to meet the needs of these new professionals. Companies will have to develop new compliance norms, training material and such. With workers being part-time or contractual, it will become imperative to protect company resources. Organizations must have rigorous contracting and onboarding processes in place for their liquid workers.

Additionally, the same talent pool can become a good source of creating training material in their field of expertise. It’s also important for leaders to train their learning teams and keep or create investments in remote learning technologies and tools.

Employee Learning Experience

With the workforce becoming more diverse and hybrid, organizational leaders in many industries need to tailor the employee learning experience accordingly. Training for gig workers and focusing on soft skills, data literacy, including Artificial Intelligence and data analytics.

L&D teams can use AI to create personalized learning programs for their employees based on their job profile and previous skills assessments. The AI tool can deliver recommendations and entire curriculums so that employees can focus on learning.

In the year ahead, it appears likely that AI will become more deeply embedded into many different forms of learning technology. In his HR Predictions for 2022 Report, Josh Bersin says emerging metaverse technology and innovations will continue to revolutionize virtual learning experiences.

Accreditation for Corporate Learning

Companies are very aware of their brand image as employers. Creating a positive image to attract prospective talent is a part of advertising, marketing, and social media promotions.

As part of this image building, some training and development teams are strengthening their courses by partnering with industry experts and associations for accreditation and wider recognition. Such partnerships can provide endorsement for the brand. Additionally, with the co-branding the employees can acquire respectable credentials to their names, which can be helpful for future movement and opportunities.

Operations Before Experiences

The Pandemic has pivoted the role of the learning and development teams. They need to now develop learning programs aligned with the organization, measure learning outcomes against business performance, and overall build a robust and mature learning ecosystem.

Along with the news needs, the L&D teams are also learning where they have fallen short in the previous years.

In a recent research published in ATD by Robyn Defelice, “How long does it take to create one hour of training?’, the author asked respondents about the barriers to creating training faster. The top answer, given by 67% of respondents, was limited resources. This included budget, staff, and time. So it is important for organizations to find ways to use the resources they do have as efficiently as possible. That includes focusing on processes, technology and judicious use of resources.

LearnOps

LearnOps is the new optimal learning process that L&D creates with more effective training materials. It’s about handling operational inefficiencies across people, processes, and technology to produce better outcomes. 

LearnOps uses data, analytics, and technology to manage learning processes. It allows a company to create value across teams throughout the learning development lifecycle.

Some benefits of LearnOps include:

   – Reducing friction among project stakeholders

   – Clearer and transparent resource use

   – Improved learner experiences and more demonstrable ROI throughout the business

Diversity and Inclusion

Remote work has increased the stresses of managing work-life balance. Taking care of the health and wellness aspect of employees has become an important part of the Learning and Development processes.

HR and L&D professionals will also have to see that a more diverse workforce is treated fairly —from recruiting to off-boarding —regardless of race or ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, background, age, or age culture. Diversity and unconscious bias training will become increasingly intrinsic for companies.

Whether it is tech-related trends, further adaptation to hybrid work environments, or a focus on operational efficiency, L&D trends in 2022 are all geared towards building more resourceful and productive teams that can add to the bottom-line of organizations.

Diana Coker
Diana Coker is a staff writer at The HR Digest, based in New York. She also reports for brands like Technowize. Diana covers HR news, corporate culture, employee benefits, compensation, and leadership. She loves writing HR success stories of individuals who inspire the world. She’s keen on political science and entertains her readers by covering usual workplace tactics.

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