The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way businesses approach their L&D strategies – and technology is playing an increasingly important role in this. As the UK emerges from multiple lockdowns, employers will be looking at how they adapt to the ‘new normal’ and move towards hybrid ways of working. But how will L&D feature in this?
Price comparison group Moneysupermarket was one such firm to tackle this issue in recent months, changing its entire approach to L&D. People Management caught up with Jodie Lowe, senior learning and development partner, to find out more about how businesses are incorporating new ways of learning.
Why did you want to change Moneysupermarket’s L&D strategy?
In our learning team we had stumbled across the concept of learning in the flow of work and, when we started to talk to staff about what drove them to go on a certain training course or workshop and what they hoped to learn from it, we quickly realised that going on these courses didn’t necessarily equal learning outcomes.
We are so fortunate now because there is so much open-source content. Say I needed to do a pivot table in Excel and didn’t know how to. I can simply Google it and somebody will have put up some content to teach you how to do it. And because I need it there and then, I can take that learning and apply it straight to the problem I am trying to solve – so I don’t need to go to a workshop to do that.
We wanted to make people recognise that you don’t have to go on a course to learn and develop – you can solve problems and learn while you are working.
How have you changed your approach to L&D?
Pre-pandemic, we had always talked about doing more of this and doing more virtual sessions. But because we were office based, it was really easy to get groups of people together to deliver training programmes. But Covid helped us accelerate and enhance our approach to learning.
During the first few months of lockdown last year we didn’t run many virtual sessions. Instead, from our company-wide virtual meetings we’d get a sense of what was on people’s minds – such as time management and resilience – and then every two weeks we’d send out content based on this on a learning platform. And then in September, we officially launched our new learning platform, Degreed. It was the perfect time, as we had adapted to remote working and, for many of our teams, there was a renewed focus on learning and we wanted to capitalise on this.
The platform is powered by AI and machine learning and allows people to put in their job role and, when they do that, it pops up a list of skills that they can rate themselves on. Their news feed, which works a little bit like Facebook and Instagram, is then tailored to their role, skill and skill level and it will bring up content and courses based on that data. From that, we also see the skills people have in the company so, when we are talking about the future of work, we can get an idea of which areas we need to invest in further.
What impact has the new platform had on staff engagement?
We are in the middle of an employee engagement survey right now, but we do know the engagement has been really high and the general feedback is that staff love it. In the six months since launch 95 per cent of our employees have logged in at least once and we have a return user rate in excess of 80 per cent.
One good example where there has been a noticeable increase is in our onboarding welcome event. We always used to bring people to our London HQ to show them around, which can be a bit scary. Our drop-out rate was probably about 50 per cent. But now, doing it virtually, the attendance rate has been 100 per cent, which really shows that making things easily accessible for people is the right way to go.
What are your plans for the future?
We’ve started to think about some of the other features on the new learning platform that we can use, such as the newsletters, which we recently started to send out. We can put links on content to the platform and we can see how many people access it – and already it seems like April is our busiest month. We are also tracking the skills data to inform learning content and events for the coming months.
We’re also looking back over the year and seeing what has and has not worked. Going forward, as learning professionals, it is going to be about looking at things differently and finding new innovative ways to keep people engaged and incorporate that into our L&D strategies.
Lowe will be taking part in a panel event on L&D and technology at the People Management Forum on Wednesday 19 May. For more information and to book your place, visit peoplemanagementforum.co.uk