Learning and Development are an essential part of the Human Resource Department of any organization. Ever since the COVID 19 crisis, the L&D for almost all organizations has adapted and is thus taking place remotely. It is thus essential to understanding the various challenges that are posed by remote training and development, as well as to understand how can this activity be made more effective.
The Human Resource (HR) department of any organization plays an important role in holding the organization together. The department is essentially designed in service of an employer’s strategic objectives and aims at maximizing the employee performance (Werner 2014). Since the employees can make or break a specific organization, the HR department of any firm plays in important role in motivating the employees into reaching their full potential within the organization while also keeping them happy and invested. The Human Resource department also performs the roles of recruiting new employees, training the new and existing employees, making employee packages, keeping the employees engaged within the organization and keeping a check on the employee behaviour and the work environment that is provided to the employees (Werner 2014).
Learning and development training are an important role of the HR department of any organization. Training the employees has implications on the productivity of the employees as well as their personal development (Marghany 2015). Training is usually provided to all the new and existing employees of an organization to brush up the work experience of employees as well as to keep a check on the effectiveness of an organization. Thus, any organization needs to have a functional T&D section within the Human Resource department.
With the ongoing COVID 19 crisis, many organizations are facing several difficulties regarding the T&D department. This dilemma is properly underlined in an article by Howlett (2020). The article talks about the stress that has landed upon training in the UK ever since the implementation of the lockdown. The article states that before the development training takes place remotely, the organizations should consider the “why, how and what” (Howlett 2020). This essentially means that the Human Resource department needs to consider how exactly the training will be done virtually, what resources and software will be utilized in the training, what activities will take place in the duration of the training, what roles will be played by the trainers and the trainees, what is the point of the training program and other related questions (Howlett 2020). Further, the article highlights the importance of a good training manager and leader in a virtual training program who can help colleagues connect and have a sense of empathy towards them (Howlett 2020). Howlett believes that the trainer plays a major role in the training and development of the employees and thus, the trainer should be capable of leading effectively in a virtual environment. Lastly, the article also highlights the problem with virtual training; that a single training program might not fit the needs of different individuals. While addressing the needs of a remote training program, the article does successfully underline one of the main issues regarding such training sessions. The technology might be insufficient in certain scenarios whereas, in others, the learning styles of the trainees might differ. Such difficulties need to be questioned carefully by the Human Resource department.
In another article by BasuMallick (2020) addresses the same topic. Having a much more positive outlook, the article claims that this crisis has brought along the opportunity to reach maximum productivity with the help of remote training and development (BasuMallick 2020). The article highlights that with the help of technology, it has become possible to reach anyone anywhere at any time for T&D. Similarly, the employees can overcome the “forgetting curve” by immediately applying what they have learnt (BasuMallick 2020). Further, the article briefly highlights several points that can support remote learning for employees including using free LinkedIn and Microsoft learning courses and using Cornerstone free courses. Additionally, a few benefits of remote learning including building resilience and helping the organization grow are listed (BasuMallick 2020). While the article does successfully highlight the benefits of remote T&D, the article forgets to mention that such training and development activities come along with several drawbacks. Yes, it is possible to reach anyone at anytime but also, this facility is completely dependent upon technology, which might just malfunction. This thought is also shared by James (2020) in his podcast. Remote T&D is also accompanied by increased distraction amongst the trainees, lack of relations and bonds in between co-workers and other related disadvantages which are difficult to overcome. Additionally, various learning theories like behaviourism (learning theory that is based on conditioning: positive and negative reinforcement) and cognitivism (determining the learning process based on their thinking process) are a challenge to implement virtually, thus making it difficult to successfully train and develop an employee using a specific theory (Simpson 2018).
An article by Grensing-Pophal (2020) offers several insights into how employees can be trained effectively and efficiently from home. The article supports advanced training, stating that such training can give employees the tools and skills they require to work in a remote environment (Grensing-Pophal 2020). The article also emphasizes the importance of remote training etiquettes and accessibility to training resources. According to the author, some trainees lack the online etiquettes and decorum which need to be taught and reinforced during online T&D. Similarly, the author also believed that not only do the employees need to be trained in special skills or work but rather training should also be given to employees regarding working remotely effectively (Grensing-Pophal 2020). Lastly, the article also emphasizes the importance of emotional and mental well-being in such times, and how the lack of social interactions might induce depression in certain workers. The article states that this can be overcome by reinforcing the company’s culture and holding virtual meeting where the employees can share their experiences and socialize (Grensing-Pophal 2020). The article successfully throws light on certain main issues that are faced in remote T&D which need to be overcome by the HR department of organizations. Since employee mental and physical health is important to the HR department, they need to ensure that the T&D takes place in a way as to not overload the employees with work or information; and that the employees are provided with an adequate amount of socialization as well.
A report by CIPD (2020) also offers various insights into how the remote workers can be taken care of. The report offers certain instructions for the trainees like following a routine, getting dressed and maintaining contacts that should be followed by them when involved in remote training (CIPD 2020). Similarly, the report highlights that the health and well-being of the employees is very important to the organization, and thus should be taken care of (CIPD 2020). Much like in this report, the well-being of employees has been addressed in several other articles as well. This is because, in remote T&D it is a little difficult for the trainer to track the progress and mental capacity of the trainees, and thus might end up overloading them with work. In some cases, it has been observed that remote working can damage an employee’s well-being (Dawson 2019), thus posing a challenge against remote T&D. This is more often than not caused by factors like isolation, lack of resources, data security concerns and a lack of confidence (Dawson 2019). However, this issue can be tackled tactfully by the HR department by creating a healthy and nurturing work environment virtually and ensuring that proper and effective communication taken place in between the employees and the trainer. Similarly, feedbacks can be taken from the trainees to ensure that they are comfortable with the current model of training.
While most organizations are trying to make the most out of remote training and development in these current situations, it is important to highlight certain disadvantages and issues that are faced by the practice. According to Creighton (2018), the simulations provided to the trainees in remote training are very unrealistic. The practices held online differ severely from the ones that are held real-time. Moreover, remote training fails to properly highlight the culture and structure of the organization, thus failing to give the trainees an idea of the values that are inculcated within an organization (Creigton 2018). Remote training also limits the type of feedback and engagement the trainees can be engaged in along with increasing the trainee’s isolation, according to the author (Creigton 2018). Lastly, various technical issues are associated with remote training that can thus disrupt the training and development activities (Creigton 2018). While the article does highlight all these issues that can be faced in remote training, it also lists down certain precautions that can be taken to avoid all these issues. These precautions range from highlighting company policies and principles, being innovative while taking feedbacks to engaging them in socialization and others.
In the world of Human Resource, when setting a plan for remote training the department needs to utilize various learning theories. By utilizing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the department can divide the various needs of a particular employee and thus fulfil them one tier at a time (Wholley 2019). Using this theory, the department can determine the various physiological, safety, belonging and psychological needs that various individuals hold and can accordingly shape the training and development plan. This particular practice will also enable the HR department to reduce the feeling of isolation that many trainees face. It is important to acknowledge that the needs of the employees are very important when planning remote T&D activities.
Lastly, an article by Weldon (2020) also acknowledges that remote working has become an important part of the corporate world in recent times and thus, it has become important to make these practices more efficient. The article underlines the fact that to make remote T&D work, a new approach to training has to be adopted (Weldon 2020). The author believes that the focus of the training practice has to be equally divided between the wellness needs of the trainee and his/her skill development (Weldon 2020). Further, the T&D practice has to be kept short, interactive, engaging and easy to use. Since the development practice is utilized by different people with different levels of comfort with practice, the technology must be simple yet effective (Weldon 2020). The article successfully outlines the importance of innovation in the remote T&D programs. The HR department is required to step out of their comfort zone and plan a development plan for all the employees in a way that is specially catered to their needs.
With the ongoing COVID 19 crisis, it has become important for organizations to adapt accordingly and change their practices to better suit the employees who are working from home. The Human Resource department to has to accordingly mould its training and development program to suit the needs of the trainees. Some various challenges and issues exist while addressing a virtual environment such as limited communication, isolation of the employees, lack of motivation and the absence of corporate culture and social activities. However, with the proper tools, planning and structuring, these difficulties can be overcome and the HR department can make the most out of these current circumstances. It is also important to acknowledge that the virtual environment also provides certain benefits to the trainees which might be absent in other cases, and thus it is also important to make the best out of these circumstances. With the help of proper technology, effective planning and efficient communication, organizations can find a way to improve their current training and development program.
BasuMallick, C. 2020. Remote Learning During COVID-19: How HR Can Manage Remote Employees’ L&D. Available at https://www.toolbox.com/hr/learning-development/articles/remote-learning-during-covid-19-how-hr-can-manage-remote-employees-l-d/ [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
CIPD. 2020. Looking After Remote Workers: Coronavirus Webinar Series. Available at https://cipd.co.uk/coronavirus [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Creighton, K. 2018. 5 Potential Disadvantages to Virtual Training You Should Consider. Available at https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/06/25/5-potential-disadvantages-virtual-training-consider/ [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Dawson, H. 2019. Is Remote Work Damaging Employee’s Mental Well-Being? Available at https://blog.runrun.it/en/remote-work/ [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Grensing-Pophal, L. 2020. Training Employees to Effectively Work from Home. Available at https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2020/04/14/training-employees-to-effectively-work-from-home/ [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Howlett, E. 2020. How can HR remotely manage… learning and development? Available at https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/experts/advice/how-can-remotely-manage-learning-and-development [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
James, D. 2020. Learning and Development Podcasts. [Online]. Available at https://www.looop.co/podcasts/ [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Marghany, M. 2015. Effects of Empowerment on Employee Performance in the Workplace. 10.13140/RG.2.1.2884.9763. [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Simposon, O. 2018. 5 learning theories to modernise your training scheme. Available at https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/blog/5-old-school-learning-theories-to-modernise-your-training-scheme [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Weldon, D. 2020. L&D Best Practices for Your Newly Remote Workforce. Available at https://www.reworked.co/learning-and-development/ld-best-practices-for-your-newly-remote-workforce/ [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
Werner, J. M. 2014. Human Resource Development ≠ Human Resource Management: So What Is It? Human Resource Development Quarterly, vol. 25 no. 2, pp. 127–139.
Wholley, M. 2019. How Does Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Apply to your HR Department? Available at https://blog.clearcompany.com/how-does-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-apply-to-your-hr-department [Accessed on 28/10/2020]
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