7 Tips to Ensure Your Hybrid L&D Strategy is a Success
A lot of Learning and Development departments are finding themselves in uncharted territory at the moment, as many organisations adjust their processes to more hybrid ways of working.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we work and hybrid L&D strategies are one innovative response that trailblazing companies have been putting in place, with L&D lending itself well to the demands of both physical and digital employee development.
With that in mind, what are the most important things to be aware of when you’re planning your strategy? We’ve come up with 7 of our top tips to ensure your Hybrid L&D strategy is a success.
1. Hone in on your needs and goals
The hard truth is that your Hybrid L&D strategy will be a waste of time unless you’re clear about the goals that you want to achieve with it from the very start. Focusing on your objectives from the outset will help you to design a strategy that’s tailored to the unique situation, values and aspirations of your company. It will focus your efforts and allow you to create a strategy that performs better, is more sustainable and ultimately better serves the needs of the employees you’re trying to develop, than one that you’ve just blindly put together in a panic.
You can focus your goals when creating a strategy in a variety of different ways, ranging from the basic to the complex. One of the simplest ways to do this is to complete some desktop research and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. Desktop research will give you a basic understanding of the context that your organisation is in, whilst the SWOT analysis will let you gain an understanding of what kind of training and employee development needs your organisation might need.
2. Decide a learning format early on in the planning process
Deciding on a learning format is more than just choosing to adopt hybrid learning! You also need to think about the type of hybrid-learning and training you want to choose.
By that, we mean, do you want your employees to complete a traditional ‘synchronous’ online course or a newer, ‘asynchronous’ type course, and what type of training do you want them to complete?
A traditional, synchronous course is one in which students learn at a set time each week and complete the course or qualification at the same pace, usually guided by a tutor – it’s basically the type of format that we generally use when we’re learning in a physical space.
An asynchronous course is one in which students are free to complete the course independently, and at their own pace, whenever they want, online.
As you can probably tell, asynchronous courses have become increasingly popular thanks to the flexibility that digital learning has created. With course content completely digitised, employees can now work through a course independently rather than having to rely on a tutor leading a course at a set time each week.
Generally speaking, asynchronous-style courses are better suited to hybrid L&D strategies, because of the fact that employees that can complete them whenever and wherever they are (internet connection, providing). A synchronous course might be better suited to your organisation though. It depends on your specific needs!
At the same time, you’ll also need to decide what type of training you want to offer. Do you want to offer a short, one off course, or something more substantial like a professional qualification? Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Finding answers to these questions as early as possible will help you to craft the perfect hybrid learning strategy.
3. Take the time to decide the right blend
Deciding the right blend of learning in your hybrid L&D strategy comes down to a simple question: how much time do you want your employees to be learning in a physical space, and how much time do you want them to be learning remotely?
Admittedly, finding the right blend of learning will be a process of trial and error to begin with – after all, most organisations hadn’t even really considered remote work a viable possibility before the pandemic hit. It will obviously depend on the unique circumstances of your organisation. It’s only natural that we won’t get everything 100% correct as we implement hybrid learning strategies for the first time. And that’s okay!
Here are some tips for getting the right blend:
- Observe and track key learning KPIs and metrics through employee surveys to gain a good idea of what’s working and what isn’t. (This guide has some great advice for tracking metrics)
- Take detailed notes about the progress of the learning strategy – include successes and failures
- Be patient: trends won’t usually reveal themselves overnight!
4. Thoroughly research online learning providers
Unless you have lots of professors on your payroll who have a lot of time on their hands, it’s likely that you’re going to need to purchase your online learning courses from somewhere.
That’s especially the case if you want your employees to study professional qualifications.
There are a lot of learning providers out there to choose from, all with their unique strengths and weaknesses. Doing a quick Google search into providers for the niche that you’re targeting will help you to get a good idea of which companies to approach.
It might seem like a bit of work, but it’s worth carrying out some detailed research – your budget will probably thank you later. The online learning world is competitive, so you’ll probably find a sale, deal or discount if you look hard enough!
5. Ensure everyone has the right technology
With the amount of work that comes with developing any strategy, it can be easy to overlook aspects of implementation. Technology is one such area that can cause real problems in a hybrid L&D strategy if you don’t pay it the right attention.
Thanks to the fact that it can be completed anywhere, anytime, by employees independently, online learning has a lot more flexibility than other types of professional study. It does have an Achilles Heel if you don’t plan ahead though – technology.
The success of online learning in an organisation often rests on the quality of its technology and it’s processes for ensuring that employees have all of the tools that they need to complete tasks.
When you’re designing and implementing a hybrid L&D strategy, it’s a good idea to put measures in place to ensure that every employee has access to digital equipment to complete their studies, like loaning digital technology or providing WIFI dongles. Employees will usually require, at the bare minimum, things like this for digital learning:
- A stable internet connection
- A headset, with a microphone
- A laptop
- A notebook/ stationery
Obviously, the exact equipment will vary, depending on the course that your employees are completing.
6. Make sure your managers have the right skills
The success of your hybrid L&D strategy rests largely on the skills of your managers and the staff responsible for supervising the implementation of the strategy. That’s because hybrid learning strategies call for a completely different set of management skills to normal learning strategies. The recent People Management whitepaper ‘Hybrid Working, Hybrid Learning: What’s next for L&D in the changing workplace?’ highlights some of the skills that managers may well need going forward. These include traits and skills like:
- Critical thinking skills
- Digital technology skills
- Change management
- Improved knowledge of equality and diversity
- Improved knowledge of health and safety (especially from a remote work perspective)
Before you try to train up the rest of your employees, make sure to focus on getting the skills of your frontline managers – the people who will be directly overseeing the learning process – up to scratch.
7. Get stakeholder buy-in from the start
One of the best ways to make sure your hybrid learning & development strategy is to make sure that you get as many people as possible on board with your plans from the beginning. This will help you to navigate the tricky process of getting budgets and plans approved.
Consulting internal and external stakeholders within plenty of time will help you get that all-important thing that makes or breaks projects – stakeholder buy-in.
Buy-in refers to the process of getting people who are affected by a decision involved in shaping that decision so that you can improve your chances of getting everyone to agree with key aspects of it. It can help to defang any possible pushback to a decision – which can make a strategy a lot easier to implement.
This article by Project Practical explores the process in detail and provides some really useful tips for success.
Don’t send out a few hurried emails the night before. Start the hard work early on and improve your chances of success!
Making sure a learning strategy is a success involves juggling a lot of moving parts – especially when it comes to implementing a pioneering hybrid L&D strategy that not many other business have developed. Keep these 7 tips in your head when you’re designing and implementing your strategy and you should find it’s a success!
Develop your team with online, professional L&D qualifications that can be completed anywhere. Get your free CIPD course guide and upskill today.
Ready to advance your HR career?
Request your guide to getting CIPD qualified online with unlimited 1:1 tutor support and interest-free plans.