L&D in sharp focus in this week's CHRO Community Conversation


The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital learning interventions.

This week’s CHRO Community Conversation, which was sponsored by Workday, saw HR leaders come together in the name of learning and development to figure out how to upskill employees virtually and accelerate their digital learning in a time of social distancing, lockdown and working from home. 

During the first half an hour of Tuesday’s conversation, Trevor Kunda, group head of leadership development and learning at Discovery, revealed the lessons he has learnt during the rollercoaster ride he has been on since joining the company, from face-to-face learning to a fully digital, asynchronous approach.

Trevor took attendees through some of the tools that they have tested and are currently using at Discovery. He provided insight into the rich data that online learning provides going on to plan the audacious move to strip physical classrooms out of their training budget altogether.

“The traditional models of learning need to be thrown out. People are no longer learning in classrooms – they are learning from a variety of sources at any given moment. Face-to-face learning was already on its way out before Covid-19 but that has been accelerated,” said Trevor, who provided examples of the learning interventions that they plan to implement that seek to build the right ecosystems for understanding people’s development needs and aspirations. Equally, their approach to learning has been bout making sure that they make ‘the’ right learning available, providing a combination of e-learning, vILT (virtual instructor-led training), and collaborative learning. 

The business case

Said Trevor: “We gravitate toward Udemy and LinkedIn learning. These were the platforms that Discovery employees were gravitating to. Once we had deals in place with the platforms, our role was to ensure that the company was getting a return and that required monitoring the number and frequency of using the platforms. We saw quite a big spike at the beginning of the lockdown.”

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Regarding the business case, Trevor said he motivated the proposal by pointing to the data, explaining that employees were already seeing the value of learning for their own development and using their own money to access these learning platforms. That meant providing learning would not only enhance the employee value proposition, but it would also enable the business to be more future-ready.

During the breakaway sessions, HR leaders had the opportunity to share lessons on how Covid-19 had impacted their training and capability building.

Lafarge Southern Africa HR director Tshidi Dabula said they were leveraging the e-Learning platform provided by our LafargeHolcim Group. These are programmes that are utilised globally and thus offer great support to the regions. 

“Locally we run regular compliance training, including the health and safety training for staff and contractors on site which is challenging when people need to maintain distance and still fulfil the practical part of the training. We are currently exploring opportunities to roll out these programs on a digital learning platform, in partnership with our training providers. The rollout hasn't been as quick as we would have liked, we're still in the development stage, but we are working with the professionals/Subject Matter Experts to assist us,” said Tshidi. 

The data issue

Bosch Africa head of HR for Africa Penny Hlubi said the group has been able to negotiate a favourable rate paying for a one-year license with LinkedIn Learn that gives every employee unlimited access to all business, creative and technology modules. 

“With the limited training budget we had, we have been fortunate to have the kind of the uptake of LinkedIn courses. We have created a peer-to-peer learning initiative where we’ve asked employees to write whatever content they feel would be helpful to the business, regardless of the topic. We then pick the top three and post them on one of our forums where the content is discussed further.”

Smollen Group head of learning and development Colette Wessels said being in a global organisation added in interesting dimension to the learning debate 

Said Colette “Our biggest challenge has been that we have had different levels of maturity in different territories when it comes to technology adoption That means we could not take a one-size-fits-all approach. Furthermore, we have a vast variety of occupational types and skill levels with the field staff component making up a significant portion. These are merchandising and sales employees who typically work in retail stores. So our approach had to go beyond the selection of a platform that works best. We also had to troubleshoot challenges around readiness and access to data and devices.”

The session wrapped up with everyone in attendance having an appreciation for the fact that, although engagement and interaction are somewhat diluted in the virtual space, it was important to continue working with employees and with providers to look at how to overcome some of these challenges.

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