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Workplace training in the Covid age: Top tips from our experts
In response to Covid-19, businesses have been forced to introduce large-scale switches to remote working from home, which has meant limited face-to-face contact with colleagues and clients for individuals.
One thing that is often not considered during times of change is how training and development should evolve to support businesses through these periods. It is also important to note that new training needs will have arisen because of the global pandemic, such as managing a team remotely and resilience.
In this article, we highlight how to transition from office base to remote training, build a programme, and run it successfully in a virtual team.
How to identify key areas for training and development
An effective development programme starts by identifying what is needed, where there are gaps within teams, and then building training to support that. To do this, it is important to work closely with stakeholders to get a sense of the company and what they are trying to achieve:
- What are the business goals?
- What are the business objectives?
- Where do you have skills gaps that we can upskill people in?
- What do we need to embed to ensure that we reach those goals?
Training is there to support the company in achieving its strategic goals, but also supporting individuals and growing their skill set. It’s about providing depth and breadth - taking an employee’s existing skill set and really enhancing it.
Kelly Wilson, Talent Development Manager, PageGroup
Five key considerations for running a remote training session
1. Timing and maintaining engagement
When transferring from a classroom course to virtual training, timing is key. Listening is the most energy-sapping thing you can do, and it is important to bear this in mind when running a training session. If you would normally conduct a full-day classroom course, you cannot replace this with a full-day virtual training session.
In a virtual setting, it is much more effective to cut training into bite-size chunks, so you are running a course that is a maximum of two hours long. If you need to cover more content, think about having breaks in between.
The adult attention span is 10 to 14 minutes. Considering this, think about how you can layer up your content as you go through. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What it is that I am trying to achieve?
- What do people want to get out of it?
- How can I break this down into components?
- Can I better signpost the learner on what will be covered in the session?
Engagement is key, so it is also important to think about how you can introduce some questions to generate discussion and ensure you are not talking about a topic for too long. You might want to use online polls or aa questionnaire group chat functionality, just to break up the content a little bit.
2. The four learning styles
Based on the work of Peter Honey and Alan Mumford in 1986, four different learning styles have been identified, and these determine how people learn, take in information, and what is the most conducive environment for them.
When planning a training session it is important to consider what activities you can do, and what information you can present that caters for all learning styles so that you get a blended approach.
Activists – These individuals just want to get up and do something. So, you might want to think about doing a role-play or doing some exercises that enable them to try out what you have demonstrated.
Reflectors - Individuals who prefer to take more of a step back. They enjoy more reflective questions and might want some time to think about how they are going to implement some of these techniques into their day-to-day role.
Theorists – They have a thirst for knowledge and love theories, concepts, and design models. They will want a session that provides a lot of information.
Pragmatist - For them, it is all about once they have learned the skills, how can they put these into play? How can they put these into place in their roles?
3. Technology, setting up, and accessibility
When you are running training, it is about where you are hosting the session. First and foremost, limit distractions. Host the session from a quiet room with a plain background to help keep the focus on the training and facilitate conversations among delegates. Turn your cameras on and think about how you could do some introductions with the delegates, especially if they do not know each other.
It is important to use the system that's going to work for you, but also is going to be easy for your delegates to be able to join as well. You do not want to create a headache before the training has started. It has to be compatible with the system that your company is using to make sure that's quite seamless.
4. Soft skills vs hard skills
A comprehensive training programme requires a focus on both soft and hard skills, and companies need to ensure that they get this balance right.
Hard skills tend to be more closely linked to specific roles and are related to technical knowledge, which also makes them easier to assess. When we look at soft skills, we are talking about leadership, communication, and time management, this means they can be more difficult to assess.
However, while hard skills training is key to getting employees up to speed on processes and systems used, soft skills training is fundamental in helping create new habits and can significantly improve an individual’s overall performance in their role.
“Emotional intelligence is responsible for 58% of job performance. So, things such as interacting with others, building relationships, being aware of how you come across are the soft skills element. It's really important that we focus on a blend to take that department, that business to the next step, as well as focus on the more technical side of things.”
Kelly Wilson, Talent Development Manager, PageGroup
5. Extending the learning
The shift to remote learning has presented an opportunity for businesses to revive and refresh their approach to development.
You can use different forms of media to engage with delegates both before, during, and after a training session. Think about how they are taking this knowledge in and how they can implement it into their role. How can learning be extended beyond that one training session?
Set pre coursework before the session, run through the key content during training, answer any questions they may have, and then keep the session alive by setting post coursework to follow up on.
If you would like to learn more about how the switch to remote working has impacted recruitment, you can view our full guide to remote hiring here.
Alternatively, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants to find out how we can support your business.