The need for — and interest in — online learning has reached a tipping point. Millions of professionals, now working from home, are choosing to learn skills that will help them navigate challenging times. Data from LinkedIn shows that employees spent 150 percent more time learning from March to May compared with December to February.
Against that backdrop, L&D professionals have been busier than ever, quickly mobilizing to support remote employee learning. They transitioned programs to be completely virtual, and helped managers support their teams from afar.
And all the while, obstacles that employers faced before the pandemic still exist, but with even greater urgency. Sixty-four percent of L&D pros say reskilling the current workforce to fill skills gaps is more of a priority now than ever before.
To understand how learning is helping the workforce navigate the new world of work, LinkedIn Learning surveyed 900 L&D pros and 3,000 learners. Here are the most noteworthy findings.
Leaders Are Using Learning for Change and Crisis Management
Whether creating a new program or improving existing practices, the urgency of addressing today’s skills needs and anticipating continued shifts is only growing. No matter where your organization is in the learning journey or where you’re headed next, fostering a strong learning culture can help employees adapt in a rapidly changing workplace.
Executives are embracing this and starting to “walk the walk” to build corporate cultures that can remain agile in times of crisis. Seventy percent say their CEOs are active champions of learning, up from 27 percent in March — a 159 percent increase in CEO championship. That goes for leaders at all levels — 68 percent of L&D pros said managers are actively promoting more learning resources to their teams than before COVID-19, and managers have spent twice as much time learning in March and April compared with January and February, actively sharing more learning resources with their teams than before COVID-19.
And even in a down economy, they’re allocating budget for it. Sixty percent of L&D pros said they expect to spend more on online learning than they did in 2019, and the majority feel much more pressure and urgency to launch learning programs in a post-COVID-19 world.
One reason we’ve heard from L&D leaders is that as companies face an economic recession, there is a heightened focus on internal mobility to carry the business toward the next phase of growth. Reskilling current employees for different, more business-critical roles creates a huge competitive advantage. A great example is Verizon. When faced with mandatory store closures, leaders were able to give employees a choice of career paths they can perform from home (like telesales or customer service) and offer personalized online learning recommendations to close skills gaps required for those new roles.
Chief Learning Officer or Chief Wellbeing Officer?
Whether you are leading a team through our collective fight against systemic racism and police violence or through a global pandemic, you are increasingly tasked with using technology to support the whole employee — from promoting emotional wellbeing to democratizing resources that help us be better allies and have inclusive conversations.
Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said that supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees is a new part of their role since COVID-19, as they are more focused on driving employee resilience than before.
And with good reason. Data shows rising burnout across the globe, and 10 times as many learners have watched LinkedIn Learning courses in April on mindfulness and stress management compared with February.
In Response to Social Distancing, Social Learning Has Arrived
As a way to combat burnout during quarantine and isolation, more employers are working to make learning more social in nature. Three in four L&D pros expect an increase in social learning, but change is already afoot.
Comparing “pre-COVID-19” data from December to February with data from March to May during the pandemic, LinkedIn has seen a massive increase upwards of 600 percent of people learning together by joining learning groups. In a time when we’re socially distanced, people are expanding their virtual communities and adding value to their networks with a 248 percent-plus increase in sharing courses taken with their professional communities. People have also been posing more questions to their instructors and peers to get tactical advice on things like how to use a specific formula within Excel or manage time more effectively. All of this is creating a more defined and holistic learning loop, where participants can effectively co-learn, collaborate and connect.
L&D has always deserved a seat at the table, but the pandemic has made that clearer now than ever. Businesses — and their employees — are depending on a strong culture of learning to navigate this new environment.