The worldwide pandemic sparked fundamental changes on how business is conducted and brought new work paradigms such as remote working to the surface.

Human resources (HR) management is one area that has been significantly impacted: from recruitment to onboarding, and continuous learning to performance management, the HR function has had to think fast. Rethink actually. Rethink the way it operates and brings value to its people. And that’s where technology comes into play. Many organizations are now steering towards more hybrid (part digital – part physical) HR services in order to adapt and thrive in this new isolated environment.

Learning is at a turning point – moving in the direction of digitalization which now plays a crucial role in tackling the challenge of reskilling and upskilling a remote workforce within a rapidly evolving environment.

Digital learning has been catapulted to center stage with high expectations to provide the most engaging and user-friendly virtual learning experience. Organizations not only expect the same benefits from digital learning that they used to get from face-to-face training sessions but expect even more given new digital tools and technologies that weren’t in the picture before. They will also find new opportunities to adopt flexible “blended learning” (a combination of face-to-face and digital learning).

What about organizations in Luxembourg? The 2019 KPMG Luxembourg Remuneration Survey shows that 75 percent of participating companies assess HR’s “internal customer” experience within the learning and development area. In light of the pandemic, this figure is projected to be higher, only emphasizing that learning and development is a priority for organizations.

Top tips for embracing the digitalization of learning

The move towards digital learning isn’t simply a question of taking what was done in a classroom and copy-pasting it into Teams or Zoom. There is, in fact, a process which can be broken down into concrete steps:

1. Define your vision for the whole learning transformation. This involves establishing the guiding principles that are critical for the success of the project within your organization. What are your expected learner and business outcomes? What is your organization’s level of digital maturity? Are there specific culture preferences when it comes to interaction and learning? You will likely need to define the expected learner and business outcomes, while also assessing the organization’s digital maturity and culture preferences regarding interactions and learning.

2. Create a holistic view of the current situation. To do this, you’ll need to focus on identifying and categorizing the current learning programs.  A clear vision in mind and a gap analysis exercise will help you break down the transformation journey into smaller, actionable steps, allowing you to easily adjust the trajectory if needed.

3. Test-drive! Selecting one or two pilot learning paths as a test drive will enable you to pinpoint improvement areas without impacting the whole batch.

At some point on this journey, you will find yourself at crossroads where you’ll need to carefully consider different options. Weighing the pros and cons based on your organization’s capabilities and audience preferences is key to understanding where the focus and effort should be applied (e.g. change management, audience, collaboration tools, technological readiness, IT capabilities).

One pitfall to avoid is trying to convert an entire training catalogue into digital content. Remember that digital has its limits and some training material still needs to be delivered physically or be fully readapted for its new purpose.

Design, build, test

Once the current state, drivers and needs are clear, it’s time to focus on designing, building and testing the tool itself, keeping in mind how it will support users and serve its ultimate purpose within your organization.

When it comes to digital learning, captivating the learner and boosting their engagement is trickier than in a physical environment as the average attention span is shorter under remote learning circumstances. It is worth, therefore, allowing additional time to explore the material beforehand or allocating extra time for Q&As. You could even reshape a traditional one-day training workshop into bite-sized sessions spread over a week, or mix it up with blended learning.

Adapting training sessions to the size of the audience is another critical element of success. The larger the audience, the more challenging it will be to create a good dynamic virtually. Dividing people up and creating smaller groups enhances communication among participants and increases the effectiveness of the training session.

The trainer plays the most important role in when it comes to high retention rate of the acquired knowledge. Despite physical distance, the trainer is still expected to interact seamlessly with the participants. Fully equipping training staff with the necessary tools (whiteboards, quiz and polling tools, etc.), as well as ensuring they have acquired the skills to facilitate virtual training sessions, is crucial.

Changing tack to maintain momentum

When implementing this new learning format, it is important to understand that a cultural change is at stake and that communication plays a leading role in its adoption. Nowadays, employees are looking for an on-demand service, accessible anywhere, 24/7, without limits. Onboarding leaders and influencers (“champions”) will positively push the transformation.

Maintain and improve

After implementation, it is important to ensure that this new way of learning not only fulfils its main purpose, but also evolves with the needs of your organization. So, what are the best indicators? User experience, satisfaction and knowledge acquisition.

By creating a feedback loop to obtain information bottom-up, pain points and other valuable information will be quickly revealed and resolved. Evaluating the success of digital training should be conducted through evidence-led information such as KPIs and satisfaction surveys.

KPMG expertise

Here in Luxembourg, the pandemic has forced us to rethink our approach in many areas, including the need to provide employees with the flexibility of learning without limits.

KPMG has developed its own tried-and-tested methodology focused on developing programs and virtual learning that are outcome-driven and agile.

HR: are you ready to be a changemaker? Is your organization ready to hit reset and embrace this shift? Our People & Change team is here to accompany you on your journey. Get in touch!

This article has been written by Sophie Dubroca.