The COVID-19 environment has severely impacted how we deliver effective learning and it is widely reported that one of the first things to suffer during times of business pressure is building the capability of people. Understandably, companies focus on dealing with the business challenges at hand. So, under these circumstances, training is not necessarily seen as a priority by many companies.
However, we can’t put learning on hold indefinitely. “The COVID-19 crisis has reminded business leaders that a more capable workforce creates more resilient companies” (McKinsey & Company, November 2020).
Unsurprisingly, inuRE has seen demand for online training solutions increase as companies have recognised the importance of maintaining their investment in their people.
“Managers can’t push the pause button on capability building, so the moment belongs to virtual learning” (McKinsey & Company, March 2020).
To continue to support our clients with the same high standard of capability building, our opportunity was to evolve our industry leading in-country (face-to-face) programs into virtual training programs. To do this successfully – and ultimately for the benefit of our clients – we found that 5 essential factors need to be considered:
1. Online learning is not new but has often been seen as secondary to face-to-face learning, which is seen as the epitome of building capabilities. “Data prior to the current crisis suggest that, in normal times, few adults take advantage of online learning as a means to train” (OECD, 24 July 2020). The matter of inclusiveness is seen as a key reason, covering areas such as the level of digital skills, access to technology and self-motivation. For online learning to be successful, it is essential for employers to develop and provide a supportive learning environment, one that promotes and encourages continual learning.
2. Progressive companies need to focus on innovation to support their capability building approach and virtual learning has well and truly landed in many organisations across the globe. The COVID-19 environment has seen the need to bring digital learning to the forefront of capability building. But not all virtual learning is the same. Technology provides a solution, but on its own it does not provide the answer – it’s about how we use technology.
3. There needs to be innovation in using digital tools. For example, we can create virtual breakout areas for smaller groups and encourage discussion and hands-on learning. This helps to address the challenge of a reduction in personal interactions that can often be seen with online learning. However, the overall approach to online learning needs to include programmes that focus on collaborative learning.
4. Not all training formats used face-to-face translate well into the virtual environment. We can’t simply copy and paste materials. The effective use of visual materials is important, but we need to place additional emphasis on encouraging discussion and interaction. This can easily be lost in a virtual environment.
5. Businesses want to see capability building that is comprehensive and supported by learning which convincingly engages their people in a multitude of ways. Our virtual learning approach should not, therefore, be one dimensional. Delivering online seminars is one approach, but we need to think wider than this. We need to provide people with the opportunity to access learning in their own time and also with environments in which they can express their thinking and creativity.
Taking these factors into consideration – and, critically, listening to our clients – inuRE has developed the following virtual programs to deliver optimal learning experiences:
Self-directed online learning:
Using a leading Learning Management System (LMS), that is easy to use, our clients can access our premium learning content in their own time. There are more than 30 modules covering a range of reinsurance topics, including a variety of supporting exercises. To support all of our clients throughout Asia Pacific region, all modules are narrated. Our clients tell us that this dimension of virtual learning is providing participants with an easily accessible and flexible learning environment, one that is continuing to support capability building despite the challenges faced in 2020. They very much see this as an essential part of their capability building programs going forwards.
Facilitated learning is delivered using a webinar format. The training is tailored to requirements and delivered for varying numbers of participants over timeframes that fit with day-to-day business activities. Training delivered so far has covered the entire Asia-Pacific region. Our clients have commented that the transition from face-to-face training to virtual workshops has been seamless and that they will continue to use this format as part of their overall learning strategies.
This dimension of virtual learning provides a fully interactive and immersive experience for participants who are guided to make business critical decisions. Covering insurance, reinsurance and underwriting, the simulations provide the ideal platform for collaborative learning, encouraging creativity and original thought. Our clients have told us that the simulations support the ability of participants to understand the essential functions of insurance and reinsurance companies.
There can be no doubt that if developed and delivered well, virtual training is an effective part of successful capability building. Whilst the experiences of this year have required us to focus on the virtual environment, we have an opportunity to embed virtual learning as a core part of our learning strategies, rather than simply being seen as secondary to face-to-face learning.