2020 was a difficult year for everyone, particularly L&D/HR professionals. Within the 2020 Workplace Learning Report produced by LinkedIn Learning, 48% of L&D professionals said they expected to spend the same or more money on Instructor Led Training (ILT) in 2021 – a picture that drastically changed as we reached the end of March.

The lack of ability to travel and/or the desire to keep colleagues safe, led to almost all ILT being cancelled or postponed in 2020. This picture is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

All is not lost though. Through adversity comes opportunity – the opportunity to show the true value of L&D, something which is often overlooked.

Within this blog, we will look at some very simple things that L&D can do to show their value in 2021, and ultimately meet the challenge of learning during a pandemic.

Become Referral Marketeers

According to the 2020 Workplace Learning Report, L&D spend 16% of their time promoting learning programmes to employees. That’s roughly 6 hours every week.

Is this really a valuable use of your time?

When looking at Marketing in a generic context, we know that 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know and more importantly, are four times more likely to “buy”. Now if we move that logic back to an L&D context – is there a way of incentivising Managers to promote learning within their own teams? Thus improving trust, and creating greater likelihood of success.

The answer is a resounding yes!

Most Learning Management Systems (LMS) enable Managers to take some level of control of their teams’ learning – we know this is certainly the case with Totara, as we currently provide this feature to a number of our own clients.

If this is possible with your LMS, why not spend 6 hours in workshops with Managers, educating them on how to use the platform and set-up learning programmes? Maybe you could run a quarterly competition within which the winning Manager is decided by the most team-members completing a programme. It seems strange to say this, but let your Managers do your job for you, you’ve got better ways to spend those 6 hours every week, so lets take a look at a few.

Become Content Creators

There is one very simple fact about online learning content – you won’t find everything you need “off-the-shelf”. This then leads businesses into commissioning “bespoke” projects, which can be expensive and leave you with gaps because your budget won’t stretch far enough for every topic you need to cover.

Into the mix come Authoring Tools!

There are a wide range of Authoring Tools available on the market, specifically for the purpose of creating eLearning. Some are serious bits of kit and require extensive training before you can even think about building content.

However, there are some very intuitive solutions that allow you to get creating content within a matter of hours. We have detailed a few examples below:

These are all really robust tools and can allow even the most technophobic of people to create high-quality content.

We recommend using any of the aforementioned tools for process/product training. You can spend your time working with internal Subject Matter Experts (SME) to really hone in on the key points, and leave the majority of your budget available for bespoke projects that need a professional touch.

Become More Than Just “Training”

2021 will undoubtedly be the year where L&D can show its true value.

With most businesses needing to reduce costs, and therefore make difficult workforce decisions, L&D have the unenviable task of ensuring the remaining workforce have the skills to deliver the results required.

This is where you become “problem solvers” rather than just “training”, and here’s why…

Some of the sales team aren’t hitting their monthly targets, and therefore have been advised to seek additional training. The knee-jerk reaction would be to send them on yet another sales course to brush up on their negotiation skills. We believe this is the approach you should move away from.

We believe in “deep-dives”, even if it isnt your department, you should want to know more rather than just actioning a training request. You may discover that the sales team are awesome negotiators, but because of that, they don’t always follow-up with potential clients when they should.

Maybe a light “Time Management” and “The importance of Follow-up” course will do the trick, rather than an intensive all-day training course? It could be even be content you’ve created yourself!

You’ve now solved the sales teams’ issue, your company is making more money than it ever has and more importantly, you saved the company money by delivering in-house training. It’s a win-win for both sides!

Become Engagement Experts

An engaged learner is the holy-grail for L&D, but there is very little consensus across the industry on what an engaged learner actually is.

To be honest, learner engagement is quite subjective so its up to you to decide how you determine engagement. To help you, we’ve looked at some of the more common metrics L&D professionals use to determine whether people are engaged:

Course Completions

According to the LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report, course completions is the number 1 metric for L&D defining an engaged learner, but does it really mean anything?

The first thing to point out is that course completions don’t actually mean anything has been learnt, they purely mean that person x has successfully a course… probably the same course they completed the year before.

Another thing to be aware of is that a lot of learners don’t complete full courses. They go through a course, pick-up the skill they need and then exit the course – a very efficient method but not the best for L&D to judge engagement on.

The final difficulty of this metric is the difference in course lengths. You may have one learner who has completed 10 courses lasting 15 minutes each, but then another learner could only complete 1 course which lasted 10 hours, such as an IOSH certification – who is the more engaged learner?

Learning Minutes

The second most popular quantitative metric for determining learner engagement, according to the LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report.

Learning minutes are possibly the most difficult metric to maintain accuracy for. Most LMS’s track learning minutes as the amount of time a particular course was “open” for, which can lead to some major discrepancies in your data. For example, a learner may step away from their learning to make a coffee, adding 5 minutes to their learning time.

Another thing to consider is how/what people are actually learning. You could have one learner who spends hours learning a new skill, but then another learner who spends a couple of minutes every so often, refreshing their current skill-set. Who is the most engaged?

Repeat Visits

Repeat visits are the least popular metric for determining learner engagement, according to the LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report, but is it time for that to change?

Repeat visits within a Marketing context are vitally important, they are a way of determining how “sticky” or valuable the information you provide is. The only thing repeat visits don’t tell us is whether people are “buying” or in an L&D context, it doesn’t tell us if people are learning.

Final Thoughts

All of the aforementioned new years’ resolutions for L&D are achievable by utilising the latest technology in the LMS and Authoring Tool arenas… you’ll need a little bit of creative thinking too of course.

2021 is the year of the L&D professional, the only thing that can hold you back is the tools you have at your disposal.

Don’t get caught out by dated technology, speak to Learning Nexus today to understand the various pieces of technology we can supply to you, and the support we can provide in helping you to become what ever you choose to be this year.

If you found this blog useful, why not check-out a blog produced by Totara in relation to agile performance management