The new normal beckons, as the COVID-19 crisis has given companies a firm reminder that the capability of their workforce defines the sustenance and resilience of their dream business. The strengths and the drive that each of the resources brings shape the way an organization gets ahead amidst the many uncertainties.
Capability can only be built by astute training, and old-school training methods cannot be anymore referred to as astute. Studies suggest that companies across the United States spent an average of $250 billion on traditional training approaches, but with little/no gains to boast of. What matters now is a change in approach, and the sooner the better.
This article looks at some of the digital approaches, and the right digital approaches that the corporate world can take to meet the challenges posed by the ongoing crisis, measures that lead to capability building.
The Need for Digital Learning
Online learning isn’t in any way a new trend. It’s been there as a choice for many organizations, but the means of implementation wasn’t transformative. For example, a typical digital learning program included “try again” assessments and static videos, the likes of which ended up as a poor cousin of on-the-job capability-building initiatives. This prompted many companies to relinquish their digital quest and turn back to the old, archaic training methods. This nevertheless required huge investments, with little/no results. But all said and done, it is only the digital curriculum that can deliver the skills every workforce needs and ultimately improve both performance and behavior.
Let’s look at what a North American health provider did when COVID-19 made in-person meetings a fantasy. The management turned to digital capability-building programs, with the mission of targeting the fundamental mindsets and behaviors that could shape the performance of every employee. For this, the company made use of a single at-scale digital program that focused on a set of fundamental target skills and associated behaviors, which made digital skill-building the very initial process towards capability enhancement. Each digital program offered came with an overarching storyline that was engaging and consistent throughout. Learners needed to apply concepts practically rather than to simply memorize them.
At the end of it all, the company managed the tides and challenges that COVID-19 set before them, and therefore used it as an opportunity to change the way capability building is conducted. This is exactly what industries need in this ever-evolving climate – the ability to adapt and empower people hands-on, in a scalable manner. A digital skill program cannot be termed meaningful unless employees start doing things differently.
It is pertinent to note that not all companies that were flourishing before the Pandemic made it through the last two years, and some have vanished under the radar. This suggests that now is the time to embrace a medium, a medium that suits your mission and goals before it’s too late. Companies that don’t learn to adapt wouldn’t thrive, or even make the cut to survive and retain the competitive edge.
Bridging the Physical and Mental Distance
As already observed, the onset of the pandemic forced companies to forget the prospect of in-person gatherings for some time. This left leaders pondering on ways to maintain a similar intimacy and caliber of in-person discussions, a challenge that seemed difficult to tackle initially.
The digital platform is built with capabilities but comes with an entirely different scope and functionality. Meaning, we simply cannot make an online replica of a physical event. It is a given that the same format may not be applicable, but the digital space provides enough room to make an initiative valued and productive. The virtual and videoconferencing options of today can facilitate great functionality across varied streams. Organizations that choose the right platform and find the right balance will not only help teams learn and collaborate effectively but create a learning space that offers safe, high-impact immersive experiences that provide the look and feel of an in-person event.
The mere conduct of a capability-building program may not result in changed behavior or sustenance or reinforcement of organizational changes. But, as we saw, the science behind the behavioral change is instructive. The principles that lead to changed behavior are the same as before the Pandemic hit – the management must set clear expectations for change, and employees must be motivated and directed to meet those targets.
One prominent and proven technique to meet this is to associate desired employee behavior to actual business outcomes that may be relevant to employees. These consequences, be it good or bad, can provide real-time course corrections while checking the flow of progress.
The Road to Capability is Instruction, Innovated
COVID-19 was a storm, a storm that forces us to rethink the many archaic ways we conduct training and business in general. The way forward is simple – the future of the workplace is capability, and capability building in today’s world order needs a change in the digital attitude and approach and quality investments in virtual workshops that will make companies more resilient, capable, and productive.