A Complete Solution for People Development
As HR leaders and learning professionals, we collectively stepped up our game during the last two and a half years. Our plans for people development—robust in-person training, extended programs for multi-levels of leaders, university-style program structures—all went out the window when many employees shifted to work from home and we were left scrambling to identify the best way to continue the learning momentum.
We struggled, we tested and re-tested ideas, we failed, we succeeded, and we wrung our hands in frustration and in glory. Going completely virtual was hard!
While we all were considering if anything we were doing was working and wondering if our pandemic “Band-Aid” was going to stick, we suddenly and—in some cases—quite recently came to the realization that, in fact, we were forced to put into place practices that we knew were effective but often, for whatever reason, were not part of the typical learner’s model.
And, although not right away, through our learnings we became brilliant. Learning leaders everywhere were putting new learning methodologies in place. And what did we call it? Hybrid Learning!
Now, to be fair, that is not a new term in our talent development world, but rather a synonym for blended learning. But the way we globally use it today is quite remarkable, making this indeed the new blended learning. Of course, the word has a different context today as we talk of hybrid workplaces, hybrid workers, hybrid environments, and hybrid activities (and the list goes on and on). Hybrid learning takes on its own new flavor and purpose in today’s world.
Our charge as learning leaders is to leverage the shifts of our world to maximize the hybrid approach to people development. So how do we succeed at hybrid learning in this new context? Consider the following:
- Options for Hybrid Learning. Start by understanding the components of a hybrid learning framework. In-person training can certainly be a part of it, as well as virtual sessions for reinforcement, micro-learning as ongoing content, coaching, assignments, and case studies. Commit to blending at least three of these for maximum effectiveness, or for bonus points, all of them!
- Promote the Accessibility and Inclusivity of Hybrid Learning. Erica Farmer, one of the founders of Quantum Rise, explains that hybrid learning can foster accessibility and inclusiveness. “Hybrid is about accessibility. It’s about inclusivity. It’s about giving people opportunities to access live events, live learning and building, and having the mindset of a session where you’ve got your learner right at the center of your design methodology,” she says.
- Going Hybrid Reduces Digital Fatigue. Work is more flexible now, but digital overload is still a risk as the average team member saw a 252% increase in their weekly meeting time and 153% rise in the number of weekly meetings since February 2020 according to findings from Microsoft’s annual report, 2022 Work Trend Index. Going hybrid can help reduce this trend by adding options for e-learning versus live sessions, microlearning sent to a cell phone, and just more in-person touchpoints.
- Hybrid Learning Creates More Psychological Safety. Recent exposure to the importance of creating a safe environment for people in the workplace highlights the need for leaders to create a safe place for people to learn. With hybrid learning and the multiple touchpoints it engenders, a more inclusive environment is created—including inclusive technology, equal engagement of teams, more consideration of the delivery of content, and many more opportunities for engagement, involvement, and commitment by individual learners to their own development.
This new perspective on hybrid training makes sense. And while seeing the benefits of all these options, learning leaders have to work to ensure adoption. Talking about the value of hybrid with learners and leaders, including how this creates a new level of empowerment, is a great place to start.
Ensuring dialogue and knowledge sharing and an environment of rewarded vulnerability will establish trust. And embracing the learnings from our past several years to create a truly elevated “blended learning” strategy will help create the space for hybrid learning to be truly successful.