Transparent Communication and Clear Directions – What L&D Practitioners Need Most Amid COVID-19

Written by Yeona Jang, Ph.D., Chief Community Engagement Officer & Peggy Parskey, Principal Consultant.

In part 2 of the COVID-19 impact surveys series – two studies conducted by Explorance – we share a summary of the results of the impact the virus is having on learning & development (L&D) functions.

COVID-19 has been challenging for professionals working in L&D, not the least because their work centers on the learning and development of their leaders and employees. Explorance recognizes that learning continues to be vital during these uncertain times, as people look to acquire new skills to help them adjust to remote work.

Inspired by suggestions from members of the MTMImpact community (professionals using Metrics That Matters who work in the L&D domain), Explorance conducted the COVID-19 L&D Market Impact Survey in April 2020. The survey measured perceptions of MTMImpact community members during COVID-19 to understand the impact of the pandemic on L&D. Toward this end, 24 questions were asked along with the various aspects of L&D, including roles and responsibilities, priorities, challenges, technology uses, and help needed from their organizations. The goal of the survey was to help community members manage the impact of COVID-19 on L&D, both operationally and strategically.

BlueX, a new survey software, was used to build and manage the questionnaire. All surveys were private to protect the confidentiality of respondents and maintain the quality of responses. Below is a summary of some of the findings that emerged from the survey.

Transitioning Hands-on Activities Online is a Top Priority and Challenge for L&D During COVID-19

Not surprisingly, the top priority for most L&D professionals during this period is moving their courses to a digital format and doing so quickly (54%). However, respondents reported that they are challenged with how to make the transition to online, specifically replacing hands-on activities in a digital world. Also, while cited less, respondents are grappling with learner engagement and how to collaborate when working remotely.

Respondents reported that their organizations are prepared to gather learning evaluation feedback and to report results in a remote environment. At the same time, they expressed that their organizations lack consistent approaches to identify barriers to application and do not have the resources needed to act on insights gleaned from the feedback.

L&D Teams have the Technology Needed to Perform their Jobs Online

Nearly all respondents indicated they have the needed technology to do their jobs remotely. However, they also report that they are challenged with how to engage learners using Technology that is available to them. This finding suggests that there seems to be a gap in adapting existing tools to replicate the in-person experience.

The top three tools cited by respondents that they didn’t need before but need now to do their jobs remotely seem to be consistent with the challenges they are facing. These tools include:

  • Collaborative tools for working remotely (21%)
  • Real time feedback platforms to determine what is working (or not) with digital learning (19%)
  • Simulation tools, most likely to address hands-on training needs (19%)

Employees Need Transparency, Clear Directions, and Get-Together time

The survey asked, “How can your company help you perform your responsibilities well during this period?” The top two responses were transparency of communications (75%), followed by clear decisions or directions (65%). Also, 46% of respondents indicated that they need health and well-being support in a world where many employees are juggling family, home-schooling, and work responsibilities simultaneously.

What is interesting is that Senior Leaders were the most likely to request “get-together” time with their colleagues, followed by transparent communication. This need could be because when everyone is working from home, Senior Leaders may feel more isolated and require more opportunities to share challenges and ideas with their colleagues to drive the decisions their employees crave. In addition, meetings can have positive impacts on teams by helping offset the disconnection and distance that is a result of COVID-19.

Given these results, we recommend three steps for leaders navigating these uncharted waters:

  • Provide concrete decisions on L&D processes, particularly for the end-to-end feedback process
  • Support your employees in the feedback interpretation and action planning process. Prioritize which L&D programs will benefit most from more attention and follow up
  • Identify the factors that are creating challenges with remote work. If technology is not the issue, determine how you can best support your team as they work from home

We hope the findings intrigue you to learn more about what leaders and practitioners have to say about the impact of COVID-19 on L&D. We invite you to watch the webinar, which shares the results at an aggregated level in greater detail.

If you’re interested in receiving a copy of the full report, contact us.


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