COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the learning and development business processes. The lockdown restrictions such as the cancellation of face-to-face meetings and the introduction of remote working forced businesses to adapt new learning and development models that adhere to the guidelines. This led to the introduction of virtual training methods, replacing the traditional classroom methods of learning and development.
As institutions navigate a post-covid-19 workforce following the relaxations of the covid-19 restrictions, a big focus should be on how the new ways of training and development adopted during the pandemic can be sustained.
Leadership is a requirement when it comes to implementing and sustaining any change in an organisation. Those in leadership positions are facing a new kind of pressure as they circumnavigate through all the changes and policies in an attempt to ensure that these changes are not only supported by the greater team but sustainably implemented. Before Ccovid-19, many employees especially in the public service were not exposed to virtual platforms. Consequently, leadership is required to help employees buy into the new norms to the expectation of the organisation.
A dedicated learning and development support team is key to ensuring that all employees embrace the new training methods. Learning and development teams should champion the human in the system by continuously reminding organisations that employees should be valued and invested in, beyond their immediate utility to the organisation and should equip them with the necessary competencies to circumnavigate the future successfully.
Technological advances often impact how employees work and learn, and the Covid -19 pandemic has amplified this effect for the near- to medium-term future. This calls for the acceleration of virtual reality in the workplaces. The capacitation of all employees with the much-needed knowledge, skills and attributes required in virtual learning is of paramount importance. This goes hand in hand with the provision of technological infrastructure for easy access by all employees.
In times of crisis, most institutions cut spending across their functions with training and development as the first victim. The use of digital technology in training and development, however, does not come cheap especially if this is the first time such technological developments are considered. The training budget should therefore be adjusted accordingly to accommodate the technological requirements for sustainable implementation of the strategies.
It is important that the new training and development strategies adopted during Covid-19 be incorporated in the organisation’s human resources development policies. This will assist the organisation in ensuring that policies remain aligned to the organisation’s strategies thus making it easy for implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
Beyond the traditional understanding that each organisation is responsible for identifying and attending to its own learning needs and is reliant on itself to do so, organisations should also consider industrial networking.
They should consider identifying the collective learning needs of their employees to meet those needs. Despite the risks and difficulties related with collective learning and development, it is one of the few ways in which organisations can keep abreast of future-oriented and far-reaching trends.
This is more relevant in the Public Service, where the nature of challenges is such that they cut across ministerial boundaries. Partnerships among learning and development teams within a shared industry will be essential in creating and sustaining inter-organisational learning.
Bornface Kamwi is a Political – Bureaucracy Interface Student at the Namibia Business School, University of Namibia.