L&D Leaders Discuss Training a Hybrid Workforce
The pandemic has forced training leaders to pivot and re-examine how best to educate their organizations. While there are challenges to training in a hybrid work environment, it also presents some real opportunities. We interviewed L&D leaders at the Training Industry Conference & Expo to learn how they are navigating training in today’s work environment.
The learning leaders interviewed in our podcast shared the challenges and successes of training in a hybrid world. Some of the key points include the following:
- Engage your learners online by keeping content fresh with polls, videos, and games.
- Overcome “Zoom” fatigue by varying the modes and format of online training and online meetings. Breakout rooms can add variety to a large group dynamic.
- Use bite-size pieces of learning online to keep learners engaged and look for opportunities to maximize learning of different types when groups are together in person.
Special thanks to the following guests for sharing their thoughts in our podcast.
Karissa Williams, Senior Sales Trainer, Direct Auto
Kathryn Kelly, Director of Engagement, SCORE
Matthew Mortensen, Instructional Designer, First Energy, First Energy
Michelle Thill, Manager of Training and Development, DaVita Kidney Care
Aaron Roseum, Learning Architect, Cleveland-Cliffs
Jennifer Recla, Director of Organizational Learning and Development, Colorado Access
Davida O’Brien, Tourism Standards and Training Manager, Bermuda Tourism Authority
Related podcasts: L&D Trends from TICE and L&D Leaders Share Views on Today's Training Industry
Powered by Learning earned an Award of Distinction in the Podcast/Audio category from The Communicator Awards and a Silver Davey Award for Educational Podcast. The podcast is also named to Feedspot's Top 40 L&D podcasts and Training Industry’s Ultimate L&D Podcast Guide.
Speaker 1: This is Powered By Learning, a podcast designed for learning leaders to hear the latest approaches to creating learning experiences that engage learners and achieve improved performance for individuals and organizations.
Speaker 2: Powered By Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical education and certification organizations, and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more at dvinci.com.
Susan Cort: Hello, and welcome to Powered By Learning. I'm your host Susan Cort. Today, I'm joined by d'Vinci President Mason Scuderi. Mason and I recently attended the Training Industry Conference & Expo, TICE, where we heard from many people in the industry about the challenges of training in a post-pandemic hybrid world. [01:00] Some of the conference attendees stopped by our booth to share their insights for our podcast.
Mason, we're going to listen to a few of their interviews and then get your thoughts on their challenges and successes.
Mason Scuderi: Sounds good, Susan. Who's up first?
Susan: Well, I talked with Karissa Williams, a senior sales trainer for Direct Auto, who said her biggest challenge has been training her workforce in a hybrid work environment.
Karissa Williams: One of the challenges right now is that with the pandemic, we've had to go to an all-virtual environment versus us having to be face-to-face where we were accustomed to. Just trying to get the agents to be engaged in that type of environment has really been one of the difficulties that we have faced.
Susan: How do you tackle that? How do you get them engaged when you're on an online training platform?
Karissa: We've tried to implement a lot of games. We've done like Poll Everywhere [00:01:52] and some different type of games throughout, where we can really have them be more interactive, but also being able to use some of the other technology like using their cell phones [02:00] and playing games with them. Also, just really trying to be engaged, use our video cameras and see of them as much as we possibly can throughout.
Mason: No doubt. A hybrid training environment presents some unique challenges, especially when you're growing accustomed to the benefits of face-to-face training. Great to hear that Karissa is emphasizing the use of video and conferencing and implementing games and interactivity to get more interaction from learners.
Susan: Absolutely. You can't go wrong with video and games to help with learning. Mason, I also talked to Kathryn Kelly, Director of Engagement with SCORE.
SCORE is a client of ours that is the nation's largest network of volunteer expert business mentors. Kathryn, like many learning leaders, has found some benefits to working in a hybrid world.
Kathryn Kelly: Well, in addition to moving online, our collaboration amongst our top tier leaders, we could expand it to all of our other leaders, all of our co-chairs within the chapters or our committee chairs. [03:00] This has actually been a tremendous benefit for engagement of our various volunteer roles that we have throughout the organization, and that I hold monthly events now for these various roles. They never before had been able to come together and meet, for example, another recruitment chair from across the country before. Now, they're able to do it, albeit Zoom. They're not meeting them in person, but they really value the chance to get to know other people and to work through common challenges that they have, which is the formats that I've set up.
Again, I wouldn't have come up with this type of activity if it had not been for COVID and if I had not been forced to go online, because I was solely thinking of all my big events that I was doing in-person. It's been an interesting, serendipitous realization over the past couple of years. Still, many challenges, now being years into it, fatigue, and starting to, I feel, hit a plateau with events [04:00] that my program is currently running. We hold two monthly events.
One of the challenges, or what I am trying to do continuously and hopefully getting out of this conference, is changing it up continuously, like always finding new ways of making it more interactive.
Susan: Mason, what are some ways that people like Kathryn can keep online training and meetings fresh and engaging?
Mason: Well, first of all, it's great when we experience some unanticipated benefits emerging from our new hybrid work environments.
Mason: We can overcome plateaus and fatigue by varying modes and formats of our online training and online meetings, offer breakout rooms to add variety to a large group dynamic, and also, as much and as soon as we can, find an opportunity to resume some component of face-to-face training and meetings to re-energize the group.
Susan: Mason, Matthew Mortensen, an instructional designer at FirstEnergy, said that the switch to working in a hybrid environment is even more of a reason for engaging e-learning. Here's what he shared.
Matthew Mortensen: Luckily, for me, it has not had a lot of impacts on what I'm building and developing, just because I have not been affected by that as much. Even from my personal experience of having meetings, these Zoom meetings and things, they're not as effective when you are in that kind of environment, but that's the benefit of the e-learnings. I think a properly constructed e-learning that combines videos and multimedia, interactive, that really does give you a benefit. Then, if you can combine that with some sort of Zoom meeting or something like that, that kind of hybrid instruction, I think would still be effective in this kind of hybrid work environment that we're looking at now.
Susan: Matthew's not alone, when he talked about the value of good e-learning. Michelle Phil from DaVita Kidney Care sees the benefits of working virtually as well.
Michelle Phil: I'm super excited for the challenge of having the hybrid environment because I think it allows us to look at our learning solutions from a standpoint of inclusivity, because we have people who have not physically been able [06:00] to travel to training before, and they've been left out or they haven't felt comfortable or it wasn't affordable for their business unit. Now, we are primarily, we have a lot of our training that is staying virtual. We are putting things into more bite-size nuggets. Then, we're really being very thoughtful about when we do bring people together, what is that powerful value-add that we want them to get out of that time together?
Situations like graduation ceremonies where we can put together opportunities, maybe where they're not only presenting their capstone projects, but they're also collaborating for the next projects. So it becomes this longer journey, but it's one that more people can come to the training table, even though they're in different locations.
Susan: Aaron Rosie, a learning architect for Cleveland Cliffs, sees a real benefit to blended learning, especially in a hybrid work environment.
Aaron Rosie: We are big fans of the blended learning modality. I believe in content and competency, so the concept that you can learn something, [07:00] the material, the content that goes into it, the learning side of it, but you also need the competency side of it. Can you do the thing that you set out to do? It's this bipartisan learning model. You have to know the material and you have to be able to do the task as well. We see this so often, especially in the skilled trades areas, where you have to know the material and be able to perform a skill. This double-sided, learning on the computer, and then do it in real life.
You have the blended learning aspect of it in it's truest form. A computer-based model, it's interactive, it's engaging, you understand the material and then you go out, you work with a hands-on, skills-based instructor, a learning or content expert in your field of study, who can walk you through the finer points of doing the job itself. It's that blended learning that I really think hits home. It makes sense. There's lots of research behind it and it's what we're going for.
Susan: Mason, interesting comments from all three of them. Have you seen our clients achieve success with the blended learning model, [08:00] especially in this hybrid environment?
Mason: Yes. We see many of our clients continuing to have success with a blended learning model. In fact, our Eco-Learn learning management system is supporting both asynchronous training programs as well as instructor-led and virtual instructor-led trainings.
Susan: Some of the people we interviewed are also seeing a renewed interest in learning in the flow of work, to make sure that people have the tools they need to do their job on the job. Here's what Matthew Mortensen of FirstEnergy and Jennifer Recla of Colorado Access shared.
Matthew: I think anytime-- actually, the session I just came out of, he's talked about takeaways. You want to have something that you can provide with to your learners, to your employees that they're able to hold on with them. If you are in a company that is technologically advanced and they can pull up their phone, a lot of the LMS now out there have mobile options. That's always an option for you, if you have a physical handout you can give someone that they can take with them and be able to [09:00] refer to that anytime. I'm currently developing a project where the learners will be taking a lot of notes within their learner's guide. Then, that guide will be able to go with them into the field that they would be able to use, so they don't have the technology where they'd be able to take that on their phone, which would seem like a really nice thing to be able to do.
Jennifer: Yes, so this time challenge, one of the things we've been trying to think of is, is how do we implement that learning into the flow of work, and so much of what our role is, is to help individuals improve their performance, better results, outcomes. Back in the workplace, learning is just the means to that end. How do we support them beyond the classroom or that learning experience? One of the interventions that we've been doing is sending out weekly emails after some kind of learning experience, giving them calls to action. Here's a refresher on what you learned, and then here's a challenge for the week, something that you can implement [10:00] back into the flow of your work. You can practice, you can experiment. We've been doing that and that's been really helpful for individuals to tangibly apply something they learned within a short period of time.
Susan: Mason, how have you seen companies address issues of time with learning in the flow of work?
Mason: Well, Susan, microlearning would make a great foundation of any efficient training program. For formats, consider short Articulate Rise modules, shorter videos and animations, handouts, and even podcasts are a great delivery format to consider.
Susan: Working in a hybrid environment can be especially challenging for those responsible for training. Davida O'Brien, Tourism Standards and Training Manager with the Bermuda Tourism Authority shares her concerns.
Davida O'Brien: One of my biggest challenges is basically thinking that you're in it on your own, that there's no assistance for you. Coming from a small island, sometimes we don't realize what the other world is doing and how much they've developed. [11:00] Coming to this conference, I realized that there's a whole community out there of L&D Professionals that I can lean on or get assistance with to make my job a lot easier.
Mason: Absolutely. We can continue to stay involved with virtual and in-person conferences like TICE, be persistent in growing our own professional network, and continue to educate ourselves about the training industry. Certainly, she and other leaders should know that there are a lot of great partners out there that are a good match for their specific needs.
Susan: There are lots of ways to educate yourself, including listening to podcasts like this. Right?
Susan: Thanks, Mason. Special thanks to Carissa, Kathryn, Matthew, Michelle, Aaron, Jennifer, and Davida for talking with us at the conference, and of course, to you, Mason, for joining us today,
Mason: You are welcome.
Susan: If you have any questions about what we talked about, you can reach out to us through our website dvinci.com, on our social channels, or by emailing us at email@example.com.
Speaker 2: PoweredByLearning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical education and certification organizations, and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more at dvinci.com.
By Mason Scuderi, President
d'Vinci Interactive is an award-winning comprehensive learning solutions provider for corporate, government, medical, non-profit, and K-12 target markets.