Social distancing has become the norm in many parts of the world, impacting the way that companies operate from day to day. Organisations are regularly being encouraged to devise new plans, which include addressing the need for social distancing, staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, and delivery services.
Furthermore, it is being recommended that organisations minimising contact among workers, clients and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing teleworking where feasible. This has significantly impacted the training and development environment.
As training and development professionals scrambled to adapt, we saw the need to address the way that we designed and delivered courses and the way that instructors interact with participants. Instructor-led training (ILT) has been the standard for so long that we saw a need to reskill in order to become proficient with remote meeting and training platforms. Of course, when preparing a virtual training session, a discerning trainer recognises the need to incorporate more interaction: More question-and-answer sessions, more engaging visual aids, more videos, more polls, and more breakout sessions are important ways to stay connected with participants. Effective trainers also keep in mind the need to provide regular breaks and avoid the distraction of being an “apologizer” every time the technology doesn’t cooperate. When instructors apologize up front for their unfamiliarity with the platform they’re using, learners may start watching for mistakes and could miss the substance of the presentation.
When ILT isn’t possible, instructors may have to offer more sessions to accommodate the smaller class numbers required for social distancing. They may also have to change the way they position themselves in the classroom. Instructors can no longer approach students with close physical proximity, so they will need to work to be more engaging.
Embracing New Technologies
Training professionals have typically been at the forefront of embracing new technologies. In a post-COVID-19 workplace, it will be even more important for them to do so. The Training Process Framework organizes training functions and processes into four functional groups: administration, content, delivery and technology.
It’s time to focus on technology:
Then, consider your content:
Virtual training should always be direct and to the point to engage learners and keep their attention.
Could the next significant event in the evolution of the training industry be the post-pandemic era? The answer remains to be seen, but if so, the effect of this era would be the normalising of remote and virtual training and a renewed focus on the importance of technical aptitude for training professionals. The training and development field is evolving. Adaptation is necessary for our survival.
Workplace bias takes many forms, but the result is always the same: parts of the workforce are unfairly excluded from experiences and opportunities for which they are qualified.
The most common type of bias in the workplace is implicit, or unconscious. It operates at a level below more obvious, conscious prejudice, and affects our decisions in a much more subtle way.
Confronting this type of bias requires a careful approach, because most people are not aware of it. Recognizing that the bias exists is the key to reducing its influence.
What is Unconscious Bias?
You can think of unconscious bias as the cognitive equivalent of muscle memory, coming into play when we are faced with gaps in our own personal experience. Due to the human brain’s tendency to create shortcuts, everyone has unconscious biases. The human mind is fantastic at creating connections and grouping things together for easy access. When faced with unfamiliar or infrequent circumstances, it disproportionately pulls from widely applicable (and misinformed) associations, like stereotypes. Combined with its preference for what is familiar, we can make prejudiced decisions while still consciously believing that prejudice is wrong.
What Does Unconscious Bias Look Like?
When a group of researchers investigated on-the-job performance among cashiers in a French grocery chain, they started by measuring each manager’s unconscious bias with the Implicit Association Test (a common test for this type of bias).
They found that when minority cashiers worked under managers with a high degree of unconscious bias, they underperformed: taking more time between customers, scanning items more slowly, and almost never working late. When those same cashiers worked with unbiased managers, they were actually 9% faster and more efficient than their co-workers. There are hundreds of other examples of unconscious bias at work. Women and minorities are consistently given lower performance ratings for the same quality of work. They are underrepresented in management roles. Older workers are assumed to be technically challenged. The list goes on.
The five-step process for mitigating bias in the workplace below can help make positive progress:
Step 1: Set Expectations & Gather Feedback
Step 2: Encourage Elective Participation
Step 3: Build Bias Awareness
Step 4: Reduce Opportunities for Bias Through Structure
Step 5: Measure & Experiment
Remember that your organization is unique. Inspirational anecdotes from another firm’s success can only provide so much guidance.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected every business across the UK. Whilst some are busier than ever due to demand, others are finding that the need for their products or services has considerably slowed.
All companies are having to look at their operations to try and stay afloat during this uncertain time whilst adhering to government guidelines, by altering the way their staff work and, in some cases, changing the roles people are doing. Therefore, employers may need to fill business critical gaps fast to keep things running, one way they can do that is to upskill existing staff, or retrain them to work in another part of the business.
For example, staff who are usually meeting and greeting clients in person could be redeployed to help with computer-based admin work or asked to handle phone calls to help ease the pressure on others.
Taking into consideration the government’s advice regarding staying at home as much as possible, and social distancing, it could be an opportunity for businesses to encourage staff to sign up to online courses to learn new skills.
With no time limit on how long the coronavirus pandemic might continue to affect businesses, it’s a key time for companies to see how they can alter their operations and support their staff to upskill or retrain to allow business to keep going where possible.
To help businesses Heyllo! are providing access to fully funded learning courses for all business and their staff affected by COVID-19. Businesses can reach this support through our ADD DETAILS.
Coronavirus: Looking for a new job?
Whether you were in the middle of applying for a new job before the coronavirus pandemic hit, or you are now looking to find a new career? It’s a difficult time for job seekers, but don’t panic – hope is definitely not lost. Here at Heyllo!, we can offer support and guidance to find your next job during this time.