Training Tactics For 2021
The pandemic of 2020 has disrupted and changed many processes—and as you might have guessed, it has changed the trajectory of training in a drastic way. Although training trends had already been moving toward digital learning over the last several years, the social distancing necessary to manage COVID-19 exposure has accelerated the process. In the last year, Instructor-Led Training delivery methods were quickly converted to blended learning or hybrid learning models, and responsive HTML5 or mobile-first course design became the standard. A 2017 poll  indicated 77% of U.S. corporations were already using eLearning with 98% of corporations saying they planned to incorporate eLearning by 2020.
Despite the previous gradual progression toward digital learning, in 2020 many organizations were unprepared for the sudden shift to remote work and remote learning. Though companies were using eLearning more frequently, their curricula were still dependent on some degree of in-person interactions between instructors, mentors, or coaches. This lead some to reconsider the whole of their training strategy. Fortunately, many of the digital training methods that were already developing before the pandemic are still useful and apply as best practices for design training strategies for a remote work environment.
So, here we will review some of the training trends that will carry us through a remote work environment.
Digital Training Trends For Any Learning Strategy
Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Machine Learning
Learning and Development consultants are starting to make more use of the capabilities of AI to improve analysis, reporting, and personalization within their training solutions. Simple automation like chatbots has made it possible to support learners on a greater scale. However, more complicated AI-based learning platforms have the ability to analyze learning in real time and deliver tailored training content.
New-hire employee onboarding has continued a gradual shift away from time-intensive initial training events toward shorter onboarding, followed by on-the-job training and performance support. In part, this change is due to an understanding of learning as a journey, as compared to an event. New hires can become overwhelmed with excess information during their onboarding and forget much of it when they transition to work. For that reason, Learning and Development consultants have focused more on building training assets for employees to use on-the-job as they encounter challenges.
Developing Trainers And Coaches
There has always been a fixation on making sure employees know what to do. Now, that attention and focus are increasingly on the people that are supposed to deliver the information. We fully expect to see a greater emphasis on trainers getting more training on how to be effective teachers—especially if the remote work trend continues on as we think it will. Being a virtual trainer requires a different approach than the previous in-person method, and with it different skills to pack the same punch. Developing the trainers that can develop better in-house training will also be an important focus. You could have the best teacher in the world, but if the materials don’t match, it could be difficult to get the desired results.
Organizations have long understood the importance of maintaining the skillset of their workforce, as well as the challenges of keeping up with new processes and technologies. There is a key role for talent acquisition to play in ensuring an organization has employees with the right skills, but hiring can be expensive. A benchmark report  by SHRM found that the hiring process costs $4,129 per employee on average. Yet, that doesn’t take into account potential losses in productivity if an employee falls behind in their training or doesn’t yet have the appropriate skills to be successful in their role.
Compared to employee turnover, which the Work Institute estimates costs 33% of an employee’s salary , Lighthouse Research found that reskilling an employee costs an average of $10K. So, for employees making over $30K annually, the financial incentives to reskill employees will outweigh hiring new employees.
Navigating Training Trends In 2021
Though the shift toward remote learning and remote work was sudden, the training trends that most organizations have already started to implement in their training strategies can help to ensure employee success. It will require carefully crafting a learning strategy for this new environment. Learning and Development consultants will have to find solutions for new challenges around engagement, interaction, and learning experience. But at least it seems like some of our old tricks may help us navigate these new challenges.