Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Are you worried that your employees are not learning and growing enough while working from home?
There is just something different about being able to mentor employees face-to-face and being hands-on when showing them how things are done. Many employees may now feel that there isn't as much growth and as many opportunities in their careers anymore, as opposed to when they were able to engage in their workplaces before the pandemic hit. It was a year when being able to keep or to find a job was enough.
But companies should now be asking themselves, more than a year since the pandemic: are employees still growing in their careers? Or have operations been mostly about surviving the crisis? How can we move forward to make sure there is still a culture of learning and innovation?
Communicating with Employees about Career and Professional Development
Communicating has never been more crucial in the era of remote work. There should be a more conscious effort to connect with employees, especially since day-to-day interactions from being in one place are now gone.
This includes being able to talk to them about their long-term goals and their role in the company. More than just asking how are you or merely assessing their performance, it is also important to delve into these talking points when checking in:
How are you in terms of achieving your career and professional goals? Have they changed because of the pandemic? What challenges are you currently facing in achieving them?
Do you still get the sense of teamwork even while working remotely? How would you assess your contributions to the team during this pandemic? Is there anything you want from the team to make sure everyone learns from one another?
What skills would you like to learn or are developing? Have you been able to 'digitize' your skills? What resources do you need?
Do you get a sense that the company is innovating amidst the pandemic, or is there anything we still need to improve?
The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to make the digital pivot -- not only with their services, but also with how employees perform their jobs. Employers should be able to take this a notch higher by investing in digital learning.
Companies should be able to activate an effective learning development system. This can be self-directed learning resources, which give employees a chance to learn new work-relevant skills at their own pace and structure.
E-courses - The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred interest in taking e-courses. Some of the world's most prestigious universities have started offering e-courses not just to students, but to anyone who loves learning. Some of the most popular courses during the pandemic were Harvard University's computer science and medical lessons. Companies can start providing e-courses for their employees, not just for their career development but also to hone work-relevant skills.
Modules - Companies can also provide modules if it does not have enough resources for e-courses. Modules also serve as reference for employees as they work away from their supervisors. The bite-sized nature of modules also gives employees more time to digest information while applying them at work.
Video tutorials - Most people are visual learners. At the end of the day, being able to see processes unfold is better than reading about them in concept and theory. Video tutorials can help supervisors relay information more easily without having to repeat the process again because of constraints in digital communication, such as poor Internet connection. It also serves as an easy reference, like modules.
Or companies can also provide collaborative and social means.
Virtual mentoring - Even before the pandemic, those with mentors were those more likely to get ahead with their careers and goals. They are five times more likely to get promoted than peers who do not have mentors. Mentoring should not stop because of the pandemic, rather, it should be encouraged even more so -- at a time where employees feel lost and hopeless about career prospects. A culture of learning in the workplace is also a culture where mentorships thrive. Digital tools can help sustain that in the absence of physical interaction.
Webinars and classes - Seminars and workshops should not end just because face-to-face meetings are now limited or postponed. If leveraged right, webinars can even address what were once constraints in costs, physical location and event planning, with a wider range of resource persons.
Co-creation - Teammates should be able to brainstorm and create together even when they're not face-to-face. Features such as virtual whiteboards or breakout rooms give employees the tools for co-creation.
Games - Games are a fun way to boost employee engagement and participation. They can be utilized in team-building activities every Friday afternoon or even used as a learning tool, if companies invest in the right gamification platform or incentives. Games keep employees in front of their computers or laptops in a way other learning tools cannot.
Evaluation is an equally important step in activating a digital learning development system. Companies should be able to assess the quality and effectiveness of their digital learning tools, and if there is any room for improvement moving forward.
“The most important principle for designing lively eLearning is to see eLearning design not as information design but as designing an experience.” - Cathy Moore
Building a Hybrid Workplace
The future of work is hybrid. The majority of employees now prefer to work under a hybrid setup, according to several recent studies. A study by Accenture had put the number at 83% of workers worldwide.
It's no surprise that employees who can work both physically and remotely report higher happiness and productivity levels. With a hybrid work setup, employees are given a chance to socialize with their colleagues face-to-face and to get a reprieve from staying at home five times a week. They also get to see how work processes unfold on a practical, hands-on level, with the tools they need at their disposal. But at the same time, they can still attend to their family, personal needs, or health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's a win-win situation. Hybrid work is gaining its popularity in achieving work-life balance, which was a much-coveted concept even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and a good alternative to the traditional 9 to 5.
Being strategic about your hybrid setup is the way to go. Companies should schedule collaborative activities on the days employees are in the office -- whether that's three days of meetings and mentoring -- while allowing them to work at home for the remainder of the week. This gives them the time and space to perform tasks that require individual focus, plus the chance to apply what they've learned on-field -- this time, with minimal supervision.
Do you have what it takes to build a
Culture of learning
one year on since the pandemic?
What are the digital tools you need to develop talent and skills in the workplace?
or How do you make sure that your hybrid workplace is safe from COVID-19?