Inkling Survey Reveals Only 28% of Companies Have The Right Learning And Development Tools To Address Employee Needs
Learning 2021 Pulse Survey Details Changing C-Suite Priorities Amid Continued Remote Work in COVID-19 Aftermath
Inkling, a global leader in digital learning solutions, revealed results of a new survey conducted among learning and development (L&D) professionals on the state of the industry and outlook for 2021. While a majority of companies said they emerged stronger from the pandemic thanks to a digital transformation in their L&D practices, only 28% have the right tools to address employee needs in a work environment that has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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In the webinar “Putting 2020 in the Rear View: What’s Ahead for Learning?,” Inkling and Brandon Hall Group shared insights from their Learning 2021 Pulse Survey, which highlighted:
- Concerns that keep the C-Suite and operations leaders up at night
- Obstacles to achieving learning agility
- How progressive companies are taking this opportunity to reimagine learning from the learners’ perspectives, particularly as they continue to work in distributed and decentralized environments
“Companies already undergoing a digital transformation and those relying on modern learning tools before the pandemic hit were at a distinct advantage, since they could respond quickly to unexpected and constant changes impacting their operations and employees,” said Inkling CEO Jeff Carr. “Yet, despite seeing excellent results, there appears to be a significant disconnect. Even though L&D played a critical role in helping organizations address the challenges of COVID-19, their future plans do not always include making the necessary investments to achieve the true agility they need going forward. There is a real concern that once the pandemic subsides, many businesses will lose focus on digital learning and operational knowledge investments, which will hamper their ability to meet the needs of modern learners and prepare for the next major disruption.”
Emerging Stronger with Focus on Reskilling and Reopening
Approximately 75% of companies surveyed indicated they’ve emerged stronger as a result of the pandemic because it forced them to embrace digital transformation. This innovation mindset enabled them to address remote workforce needs, and foster better collaboration and alignment between learning and overall business goals as they reinvented their business models. For the C-Suite, COVID-19 put into perspective the importance of digital and mobile learning, and the tools required to support it, particularly during volatile and uncertain times.
The Learning 2021 Pulse Survey examined priorities that have emerged from the pandemic, with reskilling and training on new products, and new services launched as a result of COVID-19 ranking highest, at 68% and 42%, respectively. Communication and training on changing laws, regulations and processes, onboarding/reboarding workers as businesses recover, and training on new policies to support businesses reopening were also ranked as important factors.
The survey surfaced a variety of ways that businesses used digital learning tools to address these priorities during the pandemic. Restaurants that were predominantly dine-in revamped processes to be more efficient at drive-through, touchless delivery and curbside pickup. Fitness companies leveraged digital and mobile learning tools to move personal training and exercise classes online. And medical device and life sciences companies selling products and equipment critical to the COVID-19 response had to shift overnight from in-person to all-virtual training to train their customers and partners so their equipment could be used effectively.
Pandemic Exposes Lack of Agility
What the pandemic exposed, according to the survey, was that most organizations were not as agile as they thought. Even though some had already adopted digital tools, their ability to adapt quickly was hampered by:
- Reliance on learning as more of an event, with set course schedules in a virtual classroom setting
- A more traditional “teach, study, test” learning model as opposed to a more flexible “find, learn, do” approach
- Inaccessible or trapped content (e.g., PDFs, paper, binders, etc.)
- Lack of mobile-optimized learning, with too much focus on paper documentation or eLearning courses not easily searchable for refresher training
- Lack of interactive or engaging content
- Complicated authoring tools that couldn’t keep up with the fast pace of change
Investments Increasing, But Is It Enough?
The majority of survey respondents indicated that they have some of the right tools in place to address employee frustrations for 2021 and beyond. And even though the Learning 2021 Pulse Survey showed that nearly 79% of companies said they’d be making moderate to heavy investments in L&D, other research by Brandon Hall Group shows the amounts being dedicated to key priorities – such as alignment between business goals and learning, compliance and change management – are actually decreasing across the board from 2020 to 2021.
Much of the heavier planned investment seems to be going toward virtual instructor-led courses and eLearning, with some uptick in more modern technology, including microlearning, video, mobile technology, gamification, adaptive learning and virtual reality/augmented reality.
Inkling sponsored the Learning 2021 Pulse Survey with Brandon Hall. Pulse surveys are meant to deliver a point-in-time snapshot of what learning teams are experiencing. This Pulse was a 10-question digital survey conducted in December and January. Survey respondents included more than 100 people from 96 companies across a broad range of 24 industries; 46% of participating companies were large enterprises, 23% were mid-sized enterprises, while the rest were smaller businesses.