Surviving 2020 provided us the opportunity to become better acquainted with technology while finding success in working remotely. Now the time has come for organizations to transition from survival to sustainability mode. According to Training Industry, there will be some permanent changes in how we conduct our lives after this pandemic passes. So, in 2021 we must continue to embrace and grow within a virtual landscape while also capitalizing on in-person opportunities when we can be together. The future of sustainability for Learning and Development professionals will be in finding a balance between virtual and classroom-based learning.
Here are 7 Tips you might find helpful for establishing a hybrid learning model:
1. Assess and identify business goals
- Formulate questions specific to your company and goals. Where do you want to be in 2 – 6 years? According to an article from Inc Magazine, start by distinguishing your long-term goals from your short-term ones.
- Once you’ve identified your long-term goals, use the power of S.M.A.R.T goals to create short-term objectives.
- Make sure your objectives and goals are clearly defined to assist with communication and clarity.
2. Communicate effectively
- Share the purpose of your organization’s goals with employees. Give them the chance to see the big picture. Make sure you’re not just sending outbound communication - take the time to listen to your employees. Specific and targeted messaging resonates more with an audience and can make a greater impact for change.
- According to SHRM, employee surveys are an excellent vehicle for gaining insight into an organization and its culture.
- More specifically, employee climate surveys can provide a picture of your organization’s needs while measuring the company’s success in communicating its mission to employees.
- Is your messaging surrounding goals and objectives clear? Do employees understand the big picture and what it will take to get there?
3. Review the organizational workforce
- According to the NIH Office of Management, the process of workforce planning enables an organization’s workforce to become aligned with its strategic objectives. Make sure the mission and goals set by leadership are clearly understood, then determine how the workforce should be aligned to support and achieve these.
- By analyzing the supply, demand, and gaps of the workforce, you will be able to identify the appropriate interventions, activities, and solutions to reach the company’s targeted goals.
4. Set employee development goals
- Now that specific groups, departments, and employees have been identified and categorized for development purposes, make sure your communication is clear, goals are aligned, and that you are providing the right solution for the appropriate gap identified. Harvard Business Review suggests that organizations be very explicit with employees about how they measure success and the metrics that drive it (specify more).
- To communicate these specific metrics, conduct department surveys and questionnaires, maintain consistent coaching, and provide details and feedback for personnel evaluations and reviews.
- Employees will be better prepared and open to receive training once their goals have been set.
5. Understand your budget and work environment in the age of COVID-19
- What type of budget are you working with? This can be a major factor in how you move forward with implementing action for filling a gap.
- What is the status of the pandemic? How has COVID-19 impacted your work environment - are people working remotely, in the office, or both?
- How many employees will be targeted for development?
- Determine a solution that will meet your budget, workplace constraints, and overall goals.
6. Implement a solution – virtual, classroom, or both?
- Identify the specific groups/participants who require development. Separate the groups and participants into two categories: virtual and in-person training.
- Offering both classroom and virtual learning options will help maintain lower group sizes that meet the CDC’s recommendations and satisfies the various comfort levels of the learners regarding COVID-19.
- Find the right platform to conduct your virtual trainings.
- According to ATD, design is important for any trainer regardless of delivery mode. Make sure your training content is both engaging and adaptable. Content that can be utilized both in the classroom and online is effective and efficient for these uncertain times.
- Invest in virtual training for trainers and facilitators. As previously noted by Training Industry, there will be permanent changes, virtual training being one of them. Your trainers can be more powerful by making them adaptable to both classroom and virtual-based settings.
- As part of virtual training, it is recommended that a second set of hands from technical producers provide support for a smooth and productive session (The Best of Both Worlds., Sara Wolski, 2021)
- If needed, partner with a vendor to meet your hybrid learning goals.
- Make sure they not only offer the right solutions, but also the right platforms, content adaptability, and facilitators to match your training needs.
- If you are going to work with a learning partner, get the most out of it by confirming that their solutions can be quickly translated into being online or back in a classroom.
7. Monitoring and reviewing
- Implementing a training program is not a “set it and forget it” model. There should be consistent monitoring and reviewing to make sure the learning taking place is effective. According to Free Management Library, ongoing feedback from the learner, trainer, and the learner’s supervisor help to improve the quality of the training and identify whether the learner has achieved the goals of the training.
- Make sure learners are getting the most out of their virtual or classroom-based training. Are they engaged and are you able to identify a return?
Common evaluation methods:
- The Phillips ROI Model
- HR.com states that summative and formative methods provide evaluation during and after training. This can be helpful when monitoring then evaluating a program.
Building a hybrid learning model for your organization will also create a sustainable path forward. Keep in mind the seven tips above while establishing and building your learning model for a successful 2021. We hope you enjoyed the tips - we’re here if you need us!