How Online Learning Helps Companies Adapt to Rapid Changes and Challenges

The pandemic has highlighted why you must be able to quickly share information with your workforce, adapt learning programs and delivery, and establish and expand virtual learning. Greg Pryor explains how Workday Learning is helping our customers during challenging times.

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Workforces have undergone a sea change during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has the location of work changed for many employees, but also how people work and what they’re focused on. These abrupt and disruptive shifts, and the resulting business consequences, extend far and wide. One big change for many organizations is that online learning has taken center stage—and taken on an expanded role.

More traditional uses of online learning, such as educational courses and compliance training, are more important than ever during this challenging time, but business leaders are also adapting and expanding virtual learning. Companies that conducted in-person training and new hire onboarding, for example, now have to figure out how to share that information with employees online. They also need the ability to redeploy and reskill workers quickly and remotely to support dramatic changes to their business models, and give workers access to new curricula that may be required to support some of these reskilling efforts. They’re using learning technologies to share video updates with their workforce, track mandatory COVID-19 training and communication, provide support and wellness resources, enable peer learning, and distribute newly virtualized content. 

It’s never been more important for leaders to provide agile systems, insights, and digital technologies that enable their remote and distributed workforces. Online learning is a critical part of that, shifting from a “nice to have” to a “must have.” According to a survey from talent research firm i4cp, 60% of participants indicated a significant increase in the use of virtual classroom training due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We spoke to Greg Pryor, Workday senior vice president and people and performance evangelist, about the challenges organizations face in the areas of learning, training, and onboarding. We also shared questions with him from our customers about Workday Learning, and how it can help them make a smooth and agile transition to online learning. 

An organization’s digital learning capability has become increasingly critical. Why is that?

We all knew that the digitalization of learning was on track to become an essential part of an organization’s digital transformation over time, but the sudden move to remote work and the dramatic demand for organizational agility has accelerated this journey to literally take place overnight. Whether it's millions of the world’s students moving to digital learning or as many workers operating remotely, an organization’s ability to engage, enable, and empower people by helping them to respond, reskill, and renew has become an essential business capability.

How can organizations quickly get specific learning to their people who need it?

We know some organizations—such as retailers and grocery stores—need to hire and onboard a large number of employees virtually. But they also need to go through required training before they can work. There’s a feature in Workday Learning, called campaigns, that our customers are using to push out important content to their workers.

The ability to share targeted content with a select audience has helped our customers in other areas. In compliance and safety, for example, one customer told us they achieved a nearly 100% completion for compliance training; another reduced the number of safety incidents through timely learning, training, and onboarding. During the pandemic, one of our financial services customers is using Workday Learning to deliver video messages weekly from company leadership to its workforce.

In higher education, the shift to remote teaching means that many of our customers had an immediate need to convert their instructor-led classroom training into virtual learning. Some have even shared these courses with the broader community. For example, to support its community during the COVID-19 outbreak, Algonquin College’s Learning Centre has launched free online courses for the public. Our product team was able to create the ability to convert in-person classroom training into webinars. 

Some organizations need to shift workers to different roles right now. How can Workday Learning help here? 

Key components of reskilling workers include an understanding of who has completed what training, and the ability to provide compliance training to employees who may be tasked with a new role. Healthcare is a great example. For workers to be qualified to work in a certain department, they need specific training. Our healthcare customers tell us they need to quickly redeploy aides, nurses, and other roles to help out in areas they aren’t usually working in. 

But to do this, they need instant visibility into who has completed specific training. Workday Learning can help with new practice changes, newly virtualized content, and tracking of mandatory COVID-19 training and communication. With its connection to the Workday Skills Cloud, Workday Learning gives companies a way to identify the skills they already have across their organization, which can help guide redeployment of resources. 

How are individual employees using Workday Learning to share knowledge with one another?

With many of our customers shifting all employees to working at home, and many juggling parenting, working, and educating, it’s harder for employees to learn from each other. Sharing no longer happens around the water cooler, and it’s difficult to squeeze in another meeting. Learning content employees create and share with each other is helping to fill that void. 

According to a study conducted by i4cp, interest in user-generated content is increasing in our current economy—45% of those surveyed are supporting or planning to support the ability for users to create and share content. This content—everything from working from home tips to teaching fellow colleagues a new skill—is trackable and flexible. That flexibility is important right now, as many employees juggle other demands at home. 

Customers are also staying engaged and deepening their sense of community with Workday Learning. One customer told us that it’s serving as an alternative form of entertainment and education while employees are homebound. This customer is encouraging employees to use it for personal development, such as learning the guitar or improving cooking skills. Workday Learning is providing a way for teams to connect and engage with each other in unique ways during an unprecedented time.

At Workday, we’re thinking about the value of peer-generated content for our teams, too. For example, through our online employee surveys, we have data about our most successful people leaders—the ones who get feedback from their teams that they are creating an engaging employee experience. Based on this data, we can tap these exceptional leaders to share their best practices via learning modules. We can also provide extra support for our people leaders by recommending helpful (sometimes peer-generated) courses; in these times, leaders might benefit from sessions on leading across locations or staying connected.

How has the shift to an all-remote workforce affected learning at Workday?

At Workday, we’ve been using Workday Learning to help us continue to develop, train, and share virtually. We’ve always offered online training, so that isn’t brand new to us, but we’ve had to pivot and adjust just like our customers.

For example, we conducted our new hire onboarding in person before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, we’ve had to shift this online. We adjusted quickly with our sales kickoff (SKO) event, too. Five days before the event, concerns about travel and large gatherings meant we had to turn the event into a virtual experience to protect the health and wellbeing of our Workmates. We recorded all of our SKO sessions (about 60) and uploaded them into Workday Learning. Because Workday Learning sits within Workday Human Capital Management (HCM), we already had the platform in place with the capability to house our audience and distribute the content.

Can Workday Learning train workers who aren’t managed within a Workday HCM environment? 

There are a lot of scenarios in which organizations are looking beyond their current workforces and training new workers who aren’t managed within their Workday environment. Grocery stores, for example, have had to dramatically expand delivery businesses, hiring many contractors as drivers. Some manufacturers have shifted production and need to quickly train suppliers on new processes. New healthcare volunteers need training on safety protocols.

With Workday Extended Enterprise for Learning, organizations can train external workers, vendors, partners, and customers. As operating conditions change, especially in the supplier and distributor world, everyone can access necessary learning quickly. 

You can find additional content and resources for managing your business and taking care of your workforce both during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic here.

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