Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
5:00 AM 16th January 2021

Saturday Essay: How Businesses Can Improve Their L&D Strategy In 2021

Nikolas Kairinos, Founder and CEO, Soffos discusses what business could look to do to can improve their L&D strategy this year

It’s safe to say that nobody could have foreseen the events of 2020. As the fast onset of COVID-19 swept the globe, prompting strict social distancing measures and international lockdowns, unsurprisingly, this caused some initial hiccups across workplaces.

When forced to pack up their desks to work from home indefinitely, and with colleagues no longer all in one place, corporate learning and development (L&D) initiatives largely remained on the side-lines, or else postponed to a later date.

For some businesses, online learning software and distance learning tools were propelled into the spotlight to fulfil L&D needs – much to the chagrin of many employees. Indeed, although these tools have the potential to bring learning to our fingertips and truly transform our ability to obtain information on-demand, it seems that workers have been less than impressed with the digital efforts of HR teams looking to upskill their workforce. So much so, a recent survey commissioned by has revealed that a staggering 41% of full-time workers in the UK have doubts over the ability of online learning tools to support their individual learning goals.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
However, as the pandemic persists, most organizations now recognize that it is time for a change in tack. And now that the new year is upon us, HR professionals and business leaders everywhere will be wondering what can be done to ensure that corporate learning doesn’t fall under the radar in 2021.

So, with this in mind, here are some points to consider…

Understanding different learning styles

One of the biggest obstacles to delivering effective training that employees will actually retain and use as part of their day-to-day roles is keeping these initiatives interesting and engaging. Particularly as new lockdowns have prevented a full-scale return to the workplace, minimal face-to-face contact means that it can be difficult to truly tailor L&D initiatives to the individual needs of employees.

Simply offering employees online courses, or worse yet, forcing them to take part in generic training programmes that don’t help them to develop the skills they actually want or need, will not be enough to ensure that your objectives are met. In fact, taking a standardized approach that caters to the masses, but not the individual, may well be detrimental to workplace morale, productivity, and even your bottom line.

To keep your employees interested and proactive about their professional development, L&D initiatives must therefore be employee-driven, and it would be wise to learn more about the individual learning styles and career goals of your staff.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as having a quick Zoom catch-up to chat about employees’ short and long-term ambitions, requesting their feedback on existing training courses, or providing a learning style questionnaire to ensure that individuals are being taught relevant skills, and in an effective way.

Creating a discursive learning environment

As we have collectively swapped working in office buildings and shared working environments to all effectively working from our kitchen tables, many individuals will be missing their colleagues. And HR professionals shouldn’t just chalk this down to missing some office banter.

In fact, only 19% of workers in the aforementioned survey believe online learning software or courses to be an effective replacement for in-person teaching – so HR professionals would do well to bear this in mind.

Learning is always most successful when it encourages discussion and collaboration, rather than the rigid Q&A sessions that we usually see in online courses. Indeed, peer-to-peer learning is a good way for colleagues not only to cement their own understanding of a subject, but also pass that information on in a way that brings their own organizational context into consideration.

With this in mind, businesses should invest in software that can replicate a more lifelike mentoring session, or else supplement initiatives with videoconferencing debriefs to bring a human element back into the equation.

In this way, members of staff will be able to utilise digital resources to extract the knowledge that they need, and then supplement this through conversations with their peers and mentors. This will ensure that they understand how to utilise this knowledge effectively within their individual roles.

For instance, staff might be required to partake in Compliance & Regulatory courses to hone their understanding of how their industry is governed, and ensure their business’ services and products are in accordance with predefined standards, laws, specifications and policies. Participating in a standardized online training course may well offer all of the information they need, but feedback sessions after the fact can help uncover and fill knowledge gaps.

Image by Shotkitimages from Pixabay
Image by Shotkitimages from Pixabay
This should remove the tedium and chore from training, while also maintaining a healthy discourse with staff. And as well as being the right thing to do, this should also be good for business.

Investing wisely in digital solutions

The WFH revolution has undoubtedly seen digital transformation efforts brought forward months, and even years, ahead of their time. This is no bad thing, but companies should invest in digital tools wisely.

Before opting to spend a substantial chunk of your budget on e-learning software, business leaders should ask whether the specific tool at hand fits their organization’s needs. Delivering effective L&D isn’t as simple as taking on a “build it and they’ll come” mentality - after all, just purchasing a large library of ready-made resources will often be ineffective, as these resources won’t be framed within the context of your specific business.

Without utilising the right organizational language and context, it can be difficult for employees to translate information and learning materials into their day to day. That’s why finding technology that can take on the tone of your business is vital.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
And AI solutions can be just the trick. Learning platforms powered by artificial intelligence (AI) have the innate ability to learn continuously based on user feedback. Increasingly, software that adopts company lingo, as well as cultural and regional nuances where necessary, is becoming available. This can offer huge advantages to your company: if a member of staff doesn’t quite understand some of the information presented to them due to the format or language used, the software should be able to re-word its output and make the material easier to digest.

What’s more, almost two in five workers (40%) state that they would be more open to online learning resources if they were augmented with AI that could tailor training to their personal needs, so for many companies this would be a worthwhile investment.

Ultimately, there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to corporate L&D, and the past year has made that clearer than ever. But there’s no time better than the new year to make a fresh start on your training strategy, to ensure that your staff are well-set to thrive in their roles in 2021.

Nikolas Kairinos
Nikolas Kairinos
Nikolas Kairinos is the chief executive officer and founder of Soffos, the world’s first AI-powered KnowledgeBot. The platform streamlines corporate learning and development (L&D) to deliver seamless professional training for employees.

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