Learning and development after Covid

How have employers’ learning and development needs changed as a result of Covid-19? A new white paper details some of the trends.

Online Training


How is learning and development changing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with the move to a more online world? A new white paper from Jane Sparrow at the Culture Builders looks at current trends and what we can expect in the future.

Even before the pandemic, predictions were for a big rise in online learning. Covid has accelerated this and many employers have had to adapt fast. Sparrow says there is evidence that the pandemic has prompted more professionals to learn new skills to help their future career in an uncertain time. She cites, for instance, a  192% increase in searches for ‘online courses’ on Google between the month of February and March 2020.

She also notes that the demand for consistent development content among professionals is much broader than senior team members, particularly for global teams, meaning a big need for line manager training, with on-demand e-learning favoured.

For some learning and development is focused on current business priorities, which are often changing fast. Sparrow says: “Some organisations have experienced Covid-19 as a great opportunity to reimagine who they are, what they stand for, how they deliver – this creates a huge opportunity for learning and growth. Others are more focused on how they start to rebuild and transition and for some, the core objective is stabilisation.”

Taking stock

One thing that is vital, she adds, is that teams take stock of where they are and explore what they have learned over the past months, for instance, how well teams have operated in crisis conditions, where their strengths and weaknesses are and what they need to consider for the next months of ongoing uncertainty. In response, the Culture Builders has developed  tailored development and growth plans for teams, both individually and as a collective. Another area where there is a lot of interest, says Sparrow, is in virtual development sessions on delivering feedback successfully and creating cultures of ongoing feedback and growth.

She foresees a demand for more blended models of learning and development in the future, mixing online and in-person learning, the coronavirus crisis having shown that people can adapt to online learning.

She predicts, too, a growing trend for a much more dynamic approach to learning and development, where people learn in both formal and informal ways using different media, from podcasts to videos and informal coaching/mentoring.

Other trends include a realisation that we will have to continue to learn throughout our working lives, the development  of a much greater range of content, stimulus and access options and a move to more interaction between in-person and online learners and a focus on learning experiences and making connections between online and other learners.

Sparrow says while there is still likely to be a big interest in areas such as managing change and uncertainty, she expects to see a sharp increase in demand for areas including wellbeing and mental health, purpose and values and managing remote teams as well as managing more diverse and global teams.

She concludes: “Learning and development priorities should be focused and completely baked into the future plan – it is a key enabler to achieve that plan, after all. This is even more essential where budgets are tight to ensure that resources are focused in the right place to take individuals, teams and the organisation in the direction they want to go in the future…There’s no denying that there’s much that is uncertain right now but there’s one thing I am certain of; learning and development will remain critical to keeping people connected in the increasingly virtual world we are going to live and work in.”

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