How can you create an environment that empowers your people to work better and in turn, works better for your people?

In person learning was the only option when I started my career.  If you wanted or needed to gain skills and accreditations, you had to physically go somewhere, sit in a classroom and have a teacher in front of you.

This was great for engagement and forcing you to focus on that for the day.  This was also the time before handheld distractions from our tablets and phones (showing my age!).  However, there were issues where people could not get away from their job for a whole day and so they missed out or had all the best intentions but cancelled at the last minute.

The internet changed that of course and even pre-pandemic we often had the option of online learning instead of, or as well as, in-person options.  This made learning more flexible and accessible as it removed the costs of travel (transport, accommodation, food) and helped to fit it into a normal working day (no travel time). 

However, working remotely always introduces more distractions, which need to be carefully managed to ensure that individuals get the most from their online learning experience. While online learning can work incredibly well for many people and use cases, it is not a panacea that can replace the need for in-person delivery altogether.

To complement the theme for this year’s CIPD Festival of Work, which took place on 12-13 June 2024, we are considering how we can ensure that we are developing an L&D strategy that both empowers our people to work better and in turn, works better for our people?  And because we are technology specialists, we have that lens on our responses.

Our advice is to focus on:

  • Making it accessible. As everyone learns best in a different way there will, ideally, be a range of options to access the same learning, whether its classroom delivery or research tasks.   Offering additional support which is easy to request/enable, such as text-to-speech tools, will increase accessibility as well.
  • Supporting different learning styles. Offering a combination of in-person and online learning allows the engagement that can only come from being in a physical space with others with alternative remote-based options, which can allow more space for thinking and reflection. 
  • Making it engaging. Some training is required for specific reasons, such as health and safety, and other training may be more developmental, but either way, it’s important that it is easy to engage with, has clear objectives, and delivers those outcomes.
  • Making it relevant. Are we clear on what is being taught and why?  Is it a physical skill they need to practice and demonstrate competence in, such as using machinery or dealing with a difficult customer?  Or is it something that can be taught by other means such as the use of computer-based programs or knowledge sharing via text, pictures and process maps?  If there are compliance implications, how can we be sure that we are meeting these requirements?
  • How learners are assessed. This will depend on what is being taught and whether there are compliance or health and safety requirements or it involves softer skills.  It’s important that you can measure how learning is embedded so that you can continuously review and improve the delivery methods and outcomes.

Once you have identified what you need strategically, you can look at how technology can support you in your endeavours.

Our recommendations for key features to look for are:

Desktop and mobile-enabled – so individuals can engage with learning in a way and at a time that works for them, be that at their desk or on the bus on the way home from work. Features such as a manager portal allow the quick and easy scrutiny of data for their team and provide an understanding of where attention needs to be focused.

Hybrid training options – so training can be delivered and assessed via a range of routes (in-person or online) to reach the same goal.

Customisable content – every organisation is different, and you may need to be able to tailor the content in your courses for specific teams, locations and learning outcomes

Learning journeys – learning journeys, once configured, can guide your employees through the relevant compliance training for their roles, before supporting them with skills and knowledge development to enhance their career prospects.

Excellent data insights – so that you can monitor and track engagement and progress, use the data to make decisions about how the organisation is running, and plan for the future.

AI/Machine Learning tools in development – no blog about HR tech would be complete without reference to AI, and L&D is an exciting space for these tools.  Already, AI can support users with their learning so that they start at the right level and can progress effectively, as well as review their training completions and suggest routes for future training and development to achieve career aspirations.  In the future, it may be able to highlight those with the most potential for future success so that their managers can work to retain and develop them.

It’s important that L&D teams ensure that they are offering a range of learning opportunities, presented in a range of formats, which will be most effective as they give the benefits of fitting into working lives (remote, online) and meeting people, forging connections and relationships (in-person).  It seems that AI will be part of our learning and development journeys but, certainly for a while, as a tool to support the trainer rather than replace it entirely.