Like every other part of almost any organization, learning and development (L&D) has been affected and changed by the coronavirus pandemic. HR today needs to support L&D’s race against the competition to continue aligning employee goals and performance with those of the organization. HR is effectively coaching a team of top-flight runners in a continuous relay race, supporting the people responsible for identifying skill gaps and developing and delivering training to bridge those gaps with coaching, mentoring, upskilling, and reskilling.
Even before the pandemic, research showed that an empowered L&D team clearly improves employee retention. One study found that 93% of employees will stay longer with a company that invests in employee career development. No wonder companies that spend at least $1,500 per employee annually on L&D earn 24% more profit than those with smaller L&D budgets.
In the post-COVID-19 world of work, the need to provide career development has become even more important:
- Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey revealed that 1 in 4 workers is preparing to look for opportunities with a new employer after the pandemic threat has subsided.
- Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, a global survey of over 30,000 people in 31 countries, said more than 40% of respondents were considering leaving their employer this year.
L&D leaders also need to contend with the shift to the hybrid work model, the reality of more employees working remotely, and the need to build a more resilient workforce. As we reported in a previous post, the pandemic has had a profound impact on how people think about when and where they want to work (and hence, where and when they want to learn).
How should L&D adapt to continue handing the baton of upskilling and reskilling to less-skilled team members to continue to forge ahead? How can HR support them? Research from the professional organization Training Industry found that over half of L&D professionals have retooled or repurposed their learning programs in response to the pandemic. Specifically, it found the pandemic caused five significant shifts that L&D leaders need to respond to:
- Impacts on their training budgets: Organizations that could increase their L&D budgets during the pandemic were able to expand their team to support the changing learning needs of a remote workforce, address reskilling or upskilling needs, and improve digital transformation, Training Industry reported.
- The increased importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I): Social and cultural events of the last two years have increased awareness of the need for DE&I programs embedded within an organization’s culture over time, and the need to require cross-functional teams to successfully implement those programs.
- The impact of remote work: With many organizations having decided that this change will be permanent, L&D has had to reinvent programs in three critical ways: converting in-person training to fit a variety of virtual training options; creating new training topics that range from how to approach work-life balance to how to better engage with teams and stakeholders; and providing specific training for remote managers.
- The need to curate and promote more digital learning content: Remote workers often feel less connected to co-workers, teams, and managers, while employees overall are increasingly self-directed in their learning. Fosway Group reports that 2020 saw a 71% increase in demand for digital learning.
- The opportunity to create a learning culture: L&D functions need to help influence and guide strategic decisions and organizational learning and planning to help contribute to an impactful learning culture.
Aside from the pandemic, L&D leaders can have an impact on changes to the business landscape that range from helping to create and maintain alignment with business strategy to increasing training for the gig workforce to focusing on soft skills and data literacy to investing in cutting-edge learning experience platforms.
In the end, however, L&D needs one more critical ingredient if it’s going to succeed. HR can help L&D get employees engaged with training to bridge skills gaps with coaching, mentoring, upskilling, and reskilling by supporting employees to stay healthy and feel supported physically, emotionally, and mentally. HR can support the L&D team by promoting benefits that nurture employees in the return to the workplace, including the increased demand from employees for physical fitness programs.
At Gympass, we understand that passing the baton of knowledge and offering learning and development opportunities is critical to your business and the success of those programs depends on having a workforce that is physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. That’s why we’ve created tiered membership programs for workforces of all sizes, from 10 employees to 10,000. Benefit plans can be customized to your company’s goals and include access to over 55,000 fitness partners globally, in addition to virtual classes, mental health resources, therapy, personal training, and more. To learn more about how Gympass improves the employee experience, visit our corporate site today.