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Brent Colescott, Senior Director of Business Strategy, SumTotal shares with Human Resources Online his thoughts on how the pandemic has accelerated learning and development (L&D) functions.

1. Learning management system (LMS) became the new office

When the walls came down on cubicles and offices, the only connection between employees and employers was digital. In many instances, the LMS became a hub for the employee, their data and the information they needed to navigate through uncharted waters.

Instead of conferences full of sessions about how someone moved one course to a mobile device for a specific group, companies were shifting entire libraries of content to their phones. Not just that, they were virtually meeting and mining employee data there as well.

LMS is now the critical pillar for the delivery of learning as well as communication, professional development and performance management – just as it was intended to be.

2. Business demand grew for ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning innovation

Another side effect of COVID is that the expectations of the employee experience have forever changed. The pervasiveness of an always-on Teams-style environment accessible from any device, at anytime, anywhere is a huge advance not just for technology and employee empowerment, but for L&D.

The reality is that learning has always been best when it is contextual and delivered in the moment of need. The tools to provide on-demand learning have existed for some time, but convincing management to use them was a significant hurdle.

Now, what was once a ‘nice to have’ is now highly sought after. Organisations are listening to employees, and technology is moving faster because the demand for better learning delivery mechanisms exists.

3. CHRO moved to the epicentre of the C-suite

For many years – really since the ‘gig economy’ began to emerge - we have been talking to our customers about the growing importance of the CHRO role. Even prior to COVID, we were entering an employee-driven workplace future; fewer people were working in typical 9-5 roles, employees were demanding flexibility and reform, and employee loyalty was fragile. It meant HR teams held the key to longevity and empowerment of teams, but changing long-held norms and systems within their organisations often moved at glacial pace.

Enter the pandemic, and the CHRO in many organisations now holds more cache than any executive other than the CEO. HR professionals were instrumental in supporting to save their organisations and their employees while staying sane themselves. At the same time, the expectations for what our HR systems could and should be changed drastically. Organisations looking to re-establish their positions post-COVID will be lost without a dynamic CHRO at the helm who holds a central role in company decision-making.

Photo/ Scholars Private College