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Emergence… Learning in a post-lockdown world

What does this year have in store for learning? Read on to find out our reflections and predictions for 2022...

The pandemic is not yet behind us, and the nature of workplaces has changed forever. With the highly-transmissible Omicron variant continuing to wreak havoc on production, services and supply chains, organisations face many ongoing challenges. Employees will continue to work in an ‘ecosystem’ of virtual and physical work environments and organisations have now recognised that digital is the future, and that digitally supported training offers many benefits in terms of costs, flexibility, consistency and reusability... in addition to business continuity.

Learning teams should be proud of the way that they responded to the crisis stage of the pandemic, bringing employees training and support, and doing their best to offer new forms of engagement during highly uncertain times. Many organisations rushed to convert their existing training programs to virtual online delivery, and in the process, discovered that they had a greater capacity than they ever realised to deal with disruption and change.

Although the world is beginning to ‘reopen’ following two years of lockdowns, border closures and working from home, we shouldn’t expect we will go back to delivering training in the way we did in 2019 – the world has moved forward, and so have people’s expectations of what learning should deliver, and how they expect to consume it.

Forward thinking organisations are now moving beyond reacting and responding to the pandemic… and considering how to recover and thrive. People are now carefully evaluating the learning content that was hastily created out of necessity back in 2020-2021. In 2022, we need to reimagine and redefine what quality learning looks like as we move forward into a ‘new normal’ which may include periods of uncertainty - a time where an inability to onboard, train and support employees could be detrimental to business success. This means understanding the new ways people work, evaluating approaches that offered flexibility, and understanding what modalities worked and why they worked - all while harnessing the power of digital technology most effectively... and most importantly, remembering and nurturing the human element of our working lives.

A simple way to assess your strategy, is to ask yourself the following questions:

What worked? Which approaches were useful in terms of providing flexible delivery to employees who are now working in a mixture of physical and virtual workspaces?

What didn’t? In what situations do we need to return to face-to-face training, or to a new blended or digital mode of learning, and how might we do this?

How do we build on the positives? What insights and capabilities have we developed that we can harness to really thrive in a post-pandemic world?

What’s next, and what else might be possible? Given what we now know we can do, what new ways can we find for unleashing human potential and responding to challenges in the future?

Some trends that we're tracking include:

The ‘Great Resignation’ - didn’t happen in Australia

In the United States in 2021-22, millions of people voluntarily quit their jobs as the pandemic prompted workers to rethink their careers, work conditions and long-term goals. In Australia however, there is no sign of this trend playing out and surveyed expectations do not point to an impending wave of resignations*. What we are seeing instead in Australia is a deepening skills and talent shortage.

Talent attraction, development and retention - is becoming a bigger challenge

There was already a talent shortage prior to the pandemic and massive increases in demand for technology skills, coupled with reduced immigration, exacerbated the problem. Companies were forced to digitise at a faster rate than they otherwise would have, leading to demand for workers skilled in all things digital. Employers are also still struggling to find workers for jobs that were previously done by international students and backpackers. Organisations that can hire, develop and retain talent hold a strong competitive advantage. In an employee’s market, leaders need to understand the causes of attrition and be able to explain how their organisation’s corporate goals are embodied in daily work practices. Expect learning teams to focus on clearly articulating company values and purpose, building high-performance teams, offering more manager-led coaching programs and developing employees with multiple diverse skillsets. New and innovative programs for upskilling and holding on to top talent will quickly differentiate top employers from the rest.

Collaboration - digitally, physically and in teams - is more important than ever

2022 will bring even greater adoption and normalisation of collaborative workspaces, tools and ways to connect, including live edited documents and virtual collaboration happening at all stages of the project life-cycle. Learning teams can add significant value to their organisations by using collaborative tools to engage stakeholders and project teams to complete projects in more efficient ways, and at greater speeds than we've seen previously. Ensuring this happens without 'breaking' well established processes for development will be critical. BSI are now regularly using cloud-based storyboards and design documents to share and co-create learning solutions with our clients.

Agile development and outsourcing to scale

The pandemic forced organisations to swiftly adapt to new circumstances and the challenge now is to maintain that speed for business success. However, increased productivity must not be at the expense of employee wellbeing. One answer is to create training ‘minimum viable products’ that can meet immediate training needs and deliver small ‘quick wins’, which can be developed into more sophisticated solutions later. For example, this may entail prototyping a simple solution to launch quickly, and then adding rich media such as video and audio at a later stage.

BSI continue to innovate in rapid learning development, using tools such as Articulate Rise and Agile development processes to fast-track content creation. Our Professional Services and Managed Services solutions also enable organisations to add capacity to their L&D teams to complete projects at scale without burning out your workforce. How are you planning for the coming year?

If you'd like to share ideas, or your team is preparing to review your learning strategy for 2022, get in touch to understand how our learning consultants can support you in this process.


Simon Dewar
Managing Director