Training: There’s no going back to the pre-COVID world
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Training: There’s no going back to the pre-COVID world

Thinking of returning to the status quo of in-person training from before the pandemic? If so, know that you’ll be in a small minority.

The authoritative Training Industry Report for 2021, from Training Magazine, says only 8% of employers surveyed are planning to return to classroom training as usual in 2022 and beyond.

Some 15% said they were going to maintain the pace of remote learning they instituted during the pandemic. Another 17% said they would maintain the same amount of remote learning, and additionally create new classroom training.

But the largest share of those surveyed, by far, said they would take a middle ground – return to some classroom training while maintaining some of the remote learning initiated during the pandemic.

The survey is based on responses from 243 employers across a cross-section of industries. Some 38% of respondents had between 100-999 employees, 39% between 1,000 and 9,999, and 23% upwards of 10,000.

It’s clear that remote learning is here to stay, but it does have its drawbacks. The biggest? Getting employees engaged. In fact, 31% of respondents said creating engagement with remote learning was their biggest training challenge.

Getting managers involved

What’s to be done about this challenge?

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, the key is building greater involvement from the trainees’ line managers. Managers, after all, are often the people who determine whether employee learning succeeds or fails. They can either support it by allocating time and mindshare to make it happen — or not.

The article, from an executive with the professional learning provider Emeritus, suggests five steps employers can take to build this managerial cooperation:

Let managers tell you what learning is important to their reports.

Don’t rely exclusively on top-down initiatives or those created by HR or training professionals.

Make sure there’s time for learning.

Some companies have had success by giving their managers specific targets in terms of a mandatory number of hours to be set aside.

Give managers a specific role.

Managers, rather than training professionals, can be the ones who inform employees about upcoming learning opportunities. They can also encourage employees to share what they’ve learned with others once the training is completed.

Encourage managers to help employees apply what they’ve learned.

Trainers or executives can follow up with managers after the training to see how well the learning is being incorporated into employees’ daily activities.

Gather managerial feedback.

Instead of soliciting feedback on the training only from the employees who attended it, managers can be asked separately for their input. Ideally, managers will be asked ahead of time what they expect from it, and a few weeks afterward, what their experience has been like.

This blog post is based on the articles “2021 Training Industry Report,” Training Magazine, Nov. 2021, 18-33, and “Effective Employee Development Starts With Managers,” Harvard Business Review, March 3, 2022.



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