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Guide to Improving Company Culture - Culture Transformation

Improving Company Culture: Everything You Need To Know About Culture Transformation

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Organizations of all sizes need to understand how to build a positive, productive culture that reflects their core values and unites employees around a shared vision and common goal. A truly great company culture doesn’t typically develop on its own, nor can it be created overnight. Depending on company goals, the industry, and other factors, it is often necessary to undergo a transformation that will allow you to build the culture you desire. A study by Deloitte found that 82 percent of executives and HR leaders believe that company culture is a potential competitive advantage, but only 19 percent believe that they have the “right culture,” and more than 50 percent are currently working to change theirs.

Depending on your specific goals and objectives, one kind of culture may be more appropriate than others. When you look at the culture of an organization, you are actually looking at the sum total of the behaviors of all the employees. The company’s culture may have a place in a strategic document somewhere, or be on posters on the walls, but really the culture is defined by what the people of the organization do — which may or may not match a written definition.

It’s not sufficient to know what the people in the organization do in general. Culture
is more closely aligned to what the people do in times of stress, at the time of an
acquisition, or when the organization is in some kind of transition. The behavior of the people at these times is what really defines a corporate culture.


Culture transformation is an opportunity to move an organization forward in an exciting way that will give it a competitive advantage or address a significant challenge. Widespread culture transformation involves changing the behavior of all employees and leaders at the organization. They will be asked to approach work, relationships, and accountabilities with different skills and mindsets. Ultimately, a culture transformation has the potential to refocus and reenergize the entire workforce.


Sets Organization Up for Future Success and Growth

More than 50% of respondents said corporate culture influences
productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value, and growth rates.

Boosts the Attraction and Retention of Top Talent
72% of C-suite and board members say culture is a strong reason people
join their organization.

Leads to Improved Employee Engagement
Organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep
employee engagement, job and organizational fit, and strong leadership,
are outperforming their peers and will likely beat their competition in
attracting top talent.

Improves Safety
A company with a strong safety culture typically experiences few at-risk
behaviors; consequently they also experience low incident rates, low
turnover, low absenteeism, and high productivity.

Delivers an Excellent Customer Experience Through Engaged
79 percent of employees at companies with above-average customer
experience are highly engaged in their jobs, compared to 49 percent
of employees at companies with average or below-average customer
experience scores.

An organization’s leadership, its board of directors, or the results from customer or
employee surveys may clearly indicate the need for a change in the culture. Although the words “culture transformation” may not yet have been spoken by anyone involved, there is an acknowledged desire to change individuals’ behaviors so that the organization benefits in some way as a result. These benefits can — and should — be expressed using the metrics that typically matter most to an organization: improved customer feedback, increased sales revenue, fewer safety incidents, or decreased turnover, for example. If those benefits are deemed critical to the success — or the survival — of an organization, then a culture transformation is necessary.

Sometimes an organization’s pain points are obvious; at other times a specific
opportunity presents itself. In these cases, the reason for the change, and what needs to happen in order to achieve the desired outcome, can be clearly articulated. Having this kind of clarity increases the chances of a successful transformation. However, organizations are often a blend of many subcultures, so clarity on which behaviors are desired and rewarded can be difficult to achieve. This is especially common in large, geographically dispersed organizations or those that have recently acquired other businesses, gone through massive hiring rounds, or struggle with siloed departments.

Here are a few steps to take to help know when a culture transformation is needed.
Step 1: Conduct an Analysis of Organizational Culture to Get Insight on Where You
Currently Are A transformation of corporate culture must begin with a clear understanding of where the culture is now. There has to be a reason for the organization to want to change the culture in some way, and the more clearly this reason can be articulated, the easier it will be to change it.

The first step is to conduct an insight discovery, which gathers authentic quantitative and qualitative information that focuses on key areas and provides invaluable information that is the cornerstone to the success of a culture transformation. All too often, culture transformations do not take into account the unique reality of an organization. To conquer this challenge, you must understand the current reality and define where a shift in behaviors will optimize productivity and results. You must also understand which contextual elements are barriers, and which are enablers, and address those in the design of your culture transformation strategy.

An insight discovery may also utilize the following tools:
• Small focus groups gather together 5-6 individuals from different levels and
functions to discuss how they feel about the culture and their own division;
running several groups will allow you to pinpoint viewpoints from all areas of the
• One-on-one interviews with senior management and executives, which can help in
gathering concrete, specific, and detailed examples of the current culture
• Interactive discussion sessions are an innovative and practical approach where
large groups of people are brought together to engage in interactive discussion
sessions; this method encourages communication and allows you to collect
feedback from more employees simultaneously
• 180°/360° surveys give managers the opportunity to provide detailed feedback
to their direct reports (and vice versa), which is a powerful way to identify how
leaders are leading the organization; this tool should measure behavior rather than

With the aid of the tools above, you will want to conduct a corporate-culture gap analysis to fully understand the culture you have and how it compares to the culture you want.
A gap analysis not only helps you define the existing culture, but it can also deliver new insights into employee attitudes and beliefs that might have been previously unknown or misunderstood.

Step 2: Define Where You Want to Be and Commit to It as a Leadership Team

Once you have collected all the necessary qualitative and quantitative information on the current status of the company culture, it is time to define where you want to take it. This means casting a vision for the future and showing why what is currently in place will not allow the organization to make it there. Whether a culture transformation is necessary to improve engagement, reduce safety incidents, maximize the effectiveness of sales, or become more customer centric, the reason for changing and the way the transformation will happen needs to be cemented. At this time, company leadership will need to come to an agreement that this is in fact the path forward, and commit to doing their part to seeing is succeed.

Step 3: Prepare the Organization Mentally for the Impending Transformation
Culture transformation takes more than everyone agreeing that the culture needs to
change. It also requires long-term commitment and a vision for change. For employees to see and understand the culture transformation journey they’re about to embark upon, leaders need to establish a vision for the desired change, outline the reasons for the change, and help employees understand how the change will impact their individual roles. For the vision to become a reality, it also needs to be communicated to employees broadly so they have a chance to express their concerns, ask questions, and get the clarity they need to support the initiative.

A Culture of Leadership Excellence
A culture of leadership excellence is one where company leaders at all levels are committed to continuous improvement. This instills a sense of confidence within individual contributors that they are led by a team of leaders who truly care and want to see individuals, teams, and the organization succeed. Leaders show their commitment to upholding this type of culture by participating in ongoing training, leadership development, mentoring, and coaching. Also, those who have inherent
leadership skills are far more likely to be recognized and nurtured appropriately to eventually step into a position of leadership, thus building a pipeline of future leaders for the organization.

A Culture of Collaboration
A study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that companies with a collaborative culture are 5.5 times more likely to be high performing than companies that don’t have one.

In a culture of collaboration, organizations maximize employee knowledge and
capabilities because the ideas and information created by employees spread more easily. This is a result of communication and collaboration across functional and departmental lines, which positively influences company performance and the bottom line.

An Inclusive Culture
An inclusive culture develops when organizations put a concerted effort into ensuring that every individual in the organization feels that their input is welcome and valued. As a result, employees are more likely to contribute their ideas, champion new projects, and be more engaged with growing the organization overall. Also, when employees work for an organization where they feel their contributions are appreciated and valued, they are more likely to have higher levels of employee engagement and stay with the organization. This means increased
employee retention rates and decreased recruitment costs.

A Customer-Centric Culture
An organization with a customer-centric culture always considers the viewpoint of the customer when making decisions, creating processes, defining expected behavior, and developing strategy. It’s an all encompassing philosophy that is all about the consumers who buy your company’s products or services. This type of culture permeates your entire organization, including those who are not customer facing.

A Culture of Accountability
In this type of corporate culture, individuals feel accountable for both their own work and that of their teams. As such, they feel empowered to take ownership of tasks and outcomes, and trust their colleagues to do the same. In a culture of accountability that functions well, every team member actively and willingly contributes to the success of the organization, because they understand that their contributions have value.

A Culture of Sales Effectiveness
A culture of sales effectiveness is centered around supporting the activities that generate revenue for the organization. For organizations with a large sales force, developing this type of culture within the team can improve their ability to sell new products and services as solutions to customer pain-points, to approach new markets, to develop a sales process that is in line with their company values, and to use the tools that will help them maximize sales.

A Culture of Safety and Compliance
A culture of safety and compliance is one that is committed to protecting the health and well-being of every individual, meaning that employees inherently protect not just themselves, but also their colleagues. Building this type of culture requires having safety procedures in place, requiring specific behaviors, and providing ongoing training to ensure that everybody has all the necessary information and conviction to perform their job safely.

A Culture of Innovation
Innovation is highly valuable and necessary for the ongoing success of the organization. A culture of innovation is one that focuses not only on coming up with new ideas, but also on following a rigorous process to bring those ideas to fruition. It is a culture that actively engages in creative thinking and executes on new ideas to drive organizational growth.


Leadership is absolutely vital to any culture transformation. It is the difference between success and failure. From the words they speak to the way they behave, leaders play a critical role in setting the tone for what’s acceptable or expected within a company. In fact, when leaders model the behavior changes they are asking employees to make, a culture transformation is 5.3 times more likely to be successful.

What Is the Role of the Leader During a Culture Transformation?

1. Communicate the Vision to Their Direct Reports
It can be overwhelming — even a little scary — for employees to be told that they need to change significantly, especially if they’ve been in a role for a long time. But if leaders communicate the vision for the transformation, the rationale behind it, and a general idea of what will be required of individual employees, they help their direct reports to see the big picture and the anticipated benefits. The more leaders share the vision in positive ways, the more employees will be able to connect with it, and the more willing they will be to alter their behavior to align with the vision.

2. Set Realistic Expectations
Leaders also need to set clear and realistic expectations. Strong leaders are able to work with each employee to set achievable, measurable goals, helping them to understand exactly what is expected. By providing this clarity, leaders help to create an environment where employees are positioned to succeed and perform at their best.

3. Provide Timely Feedback and Coaching
Once expectations are set, leaders need to deliver clear, actionable feedback to help guide employees toward the expected behaviors. This takes both candor and empathy, so that employees can accept and incorporate the  feedback, rather than feel that they are being scolded for poor performance.

4. Attend Training and Development
Changes to behavior often require new skills — either technical skills, soft skills, or, most likely, a combination of the two. In a Wall Street Journal survey, 92 percent of employers said that technical skills and soft skills are equally important, as skills like communication, teamwork, and critical thinking can help organizations to innovate and grow. Learning and development bridges the gap between knowledge and action, and leaders
play a critical role in helping employees on this journey by coaching them on how to apply the learning from training back on the job.

5. Lead by Example
The biggest role of leaders during a culture transformation is to lead by example — none of the factors above will have much impact if leaders are not modeling the changes they are requiring from their employees. Leaders must be honest, supportive, and accountable for their actions, because employees take cues for acceptable performance from their leaders.


Get Aligned as an Executive Team
Once the need for culture transformation has been identified, the executive team must get aligned on the path forward and commit to seeing it through until the expected results are realized.

Involve All Levels of Leadership
Within a culture transformation, leaders are the ones who should be providing the motivation for success. They should be reinforcing the rationale for the transformation and should be front and center in encouraging people to persevere when it’s challenging to adopt the new behaviors.

Regularly Communicate the Anticipated Benefit
Frequent communication helps foster openness to new ideas and behaviors. In fact, one study found that regular communication around change-management initiatives can help to reduce employee resistance to change.

Provide Training on What to Stop, Start, and Continue
The new behaviors and skills required for a culture transformation will require training. This training should provide employees and leaders with an understanding of exactly what they should stop doing, start doing, and continue doing in order to support the desired culture.

Build Conviction, Not Just Skill
Emotions are a vital part of who we are as human beings, and are a powerful motivator. Therefore, undergoing a culture transformation requires significant attention to building personal conviction so that each employee believes in the reasons for change and acts accordingly.

Consistently Monitor Progress
In a study, 73 percent of C-suite respondents said they had no formal process in place for measuring corporate culture.11 Although measuring culture has its challenges, it is imperative to do so in order to demonstrate that progress has been made, and keep people motivated to see the initiative through to completion.

Celebrate Success
When the organization is in the midst of organizational transformation, it’s possible to get caught up in daily challenges and lose sight of the progress that has been made. Keep your employees motivated and focused by intentionally taking the time to recognize and celebrate key milestones, so everyone can see the progress being made, and notice the difference.

Maintain Focus on the Initiative for a Minimum of Two Years
Culture transformation is a long-term commitment with its share of highs and lows, so you’ll need to take specific action to ensure that the impact of culture change is sustained over time.

Include Everyone
When embarking on a culture transformation, everyone affected by the transformation should be involved from the outset.

Ensure That HR Practices Are Integrated and Aligned
During a culture transformation, Human Resources will need to update talent management practices and programs to support the new organizational culture. Recruiting activities, performance-review systems, and training programs are all areas that should be adjusted to ensure that the organization is hiring, developing, and retaining individuals who embody the values and behaviors of the desired organizational culture.


When is the best time to begin a culture transformation?
As soon as the need for change has been recognized, that is the time to get started. Don’t be delayed by other priorities, or by concerns that employees are overworked. If you are going to change the way people do things, and this change will be for the better, then the sooner they can learn the desired behaviors, the greater the impact will be — and the easier their jobs will become. If handled correctly, the behaviors introduced as part of the change initiative will feel seamless, complementary, and helpful to team members.

How long will a culture transformation take?
A culture transformation, even one done on a smaller scale for only a single department, will take several months, and for a company-wide one, as long as four years. Throughout that time, the plan will require the same focus and attention that it initially received, despite the possible hindrances or distractions which can occur. Once begun, people need to know that senior management remains fully committed to the sustained effort required to see the transformation fully implemented.

Is culture transformation painful or exciting?
The common folklore is that creating a new culture will probably be painful; either it will require people to do things which they do not want to do, or take too much time that they don’t have, or be something which is felt to perhaps be important but not urgent. By no means should this be the case. A culture transformation can be a very exciting time that harnesses the energy and enthusiasm of the entire workforce. In fact, a culture transformation of any shape or size should be recognized as an opportunity to fully engage the workforce. It is an opportunity to provide them with skills that can last a lifetime. When it is done properly, and seen to be led by management, then the organization will be quick to support it and eager to reap the benefits. This is not to say that learning new behaviors is easy, or that existing ways of doing things are not deeply ingrained and well entrenched. They are.  However, changing these existing behaviors to new ways of doing things does not have to be painful; it can be a welcome change that breathes new life into a workforce if done well.

What role do a CEO and executive team play in a culture transformation?
The CEO and executive leadership team of an organization play a critical role in shaping company culture, whether they do it intentionally or not. Their influence on the culture is far-reaching, which means that if the  organizational focus is on a company-wide culture transformation, then the CEO and the executive team have to be fully involved. On the other hand, if the organizational focus is simply on a culture change within a division,
then only the divisional head needs to be seen as its leader. Similarly, if the culture transformation is occurring at a local level, such as a distribution center, then the head of the distribution center needs to be fully involved. The principle is that the most senior individual in the area undergoing a transformation needs to spearhead the initiative.

What is the role of Human Resources in a culture transformation?
Human Resources plays a vital role in any transformation, but they should not be seen to be the primary driver. The lead drivers of any culture transformation must be senior management. The Human Resource function covers off a number of key components critical to any transformation, including:
• Training
• Communications
• Line manager support
• Assessment and measurement
• Performance management
• Recruiting
• Succession planning
• Promotions
• Rewards and recognition

Is training required in a culture transformation?
Training is a critical component of any culture transformation and will be required in some form. This is because employees within the organization who are directly affected by the transformation will need to know what new behaviors are expected, and how to demonstrate them. To do this, training will be essential. Keep in mind that training must be done with care, since training can actually change the entire direction of an organization, and radically influence the outcomes.

Organizations have unique cultures, and it’s important to understand that “one size does not fit all.” There are some organizations where a great culture will be defined in terms of hours worked and revenue brought in, such as in a company where billings are paramount. Another company will define culture in terms of impact on people’s lives and communities, such as an organization committed to community service. Each organization needs its own culture. This culture should be a reflection of what is important to them, and what is necessary for them to succeed in their marketplace. Therefore, there is no single definition of a great culture. What makes a culture truly
great is whether or not it optimizes the talent and ability of its people. If it has been identified within your organization that a shift in the corporate culture is needed, or if you are not certain but feel that many organizational challenges may be rooted in the current culture, a transformation may be required. To begin your own culture transformation, start with a chat with our experienced team. In that conversation, we can help you better understand what all this means in the context of your needs and reality.

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The Shift to Virtual Learning: Scalable
Training for Modern Workforces

A Brief Introduction

This comprehensive guide addresses everything you need to know about creating a robust virtual learning program for your organization to ensure a workforce that is prepared to meet the opportunities of today and in the future.

"The Rise of the Employee Experience: How
Legacy, Corporate Culture, and Rapid Change
are Impacting Talent in Financial Services."

Key Learnings

Chapters cover topics such as:

  • Workplace trends influencing the shift to virtual learning
  • Pitfalls to avoid when building a virtual learning program
  • How to ensure learner engagement in an online setting
  • Popular competency development topics for virtual learning
  • What to look for in a virtual training and development partner


Chapter 1

Workplace Trends Influencing the Shift to Virtual Learning

Explore Chapter >

Chapter 2

Why Do Virtual Learning Programs Fail?

Explore Chapter >

Chapter 3

Why Does the Learner’s Journey Matter?

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Chapter 4

Popular Virtual Learning Topics

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Chapter 5

What to Look for In a Virtual Training and Development Partner

Explore Chapter >

Chapter 6

Implementing Virtual Learning That Truly Changes Behavior

Explore Chapter >


We’re in the middle of a work revolution and the path to organizational success is more complex than ever. Organizations face challenges ranging from rapidly advancing technology to increased competition, to radical shifts in customer expectations, which are forcing organizations to rethink their approach to talent management and the skills their employees need.

For survival, and even competitive advantage, organizations of every size and in every industry must upgrade employee knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of a workplace that is changing and they must do it fast. A 2018 World Economic Forum study estimates that by 2022, no less than 54 percent of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling, primarily in areas such as analytical thinking, innovation, and skills that enable employees to keep pace with digital transformation.

Unfortunately organizations have largely been unable to keep up with the rapid pace of change. Even those with extensive organizational training and development plans and budgets struggle to adequately adapt given the ruthless pace and scale of change. As a result, upskilling has faltered and the gap between the skills needed to succeed, and the actual bench strength of an organization’s workforce has widened.

The question then is, how do you upskill your workforce quickly and effectively? In this guide we will explore how to do just that by building out a virtual learning strategy that drives organizational success.

Chapter 1
Workplace Trends Influencing the Shift to Virtual Learning

Ongoing shifts in the nature of work and how it is performed require new ways of approaching employee learning and development. In fact, organizations and employees alike recognize that training is not only essential for individual growth but also necessary for keeping up with the changing world we live in. A Deloitte study found that 67 percent of employees believe they must continuously reskill themselves just to stay in their current career.

Fortunately, many organizations understand the benefit and need to upskill their employees and are looking to virtual learning as a way to do that in addition to traditional methods and in-person training. In a 2020 report by LinkedIn, it was found that 53 percent of L&D professionals surveyed expect to spend more on online learning globally this year. Some of the specific workplace trends that are driving the increase in virtual learning solutions include:

Remote Work and Dispersed Regional Offices
While remote work has been on the rise for years, COVID-19 dramatically and irreversibly changed where and how we work. Unless it was absolutely necessary to be on the frontline, overnight employees started to work from home. Rather than remote work being the exception, it became the new normal. For many leaders it may have acted as a living case study, showing them that it is possible for their employees to be just as, if not more, productive outside of the office. As such, many expect this trend to stick around after COVID-19 dissipates now that the workforce has first-hand experience working remotely.

Remote work and regional offices demand organizational structures to flex with the needs of the workforce through advancements in technology that enable mobility and flexibility. To capitalize on these benefits and stay competitive, many companies are putting a greater focus on organizational design and restructuring into networks of teams. Rather than staying in departmental silos, these teams are more project-oriented and come together often on a temporary basis to work on specific tasks. These new structures require updated virtual training programs to accommodate leadership development, performance management, and skills training in an evolving corporate environment.

Employee Preferences
A desire to learn and grow is nothing new, but research points to a shift in how and when employees want to learn. For example, the 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report found that although 94 percent of employees said they would stay employed longer with a company that invested in their career, they want a greater say in how, when, and where they learn. Of the employees surveyed in the study:

  • 68 percent said they enjoy learning at work
  • 58 percent preferred to learn at their own pace
  • 49 percent want just-in-time learning when they need it

To address employee learning needs and preferences, you’ll need to look beyond traditional training and incorporate other training methodologies and delivery options. Experiential training is a great example of this as it’s an interactive methodology that allows learners to learn by doing, not just watching, listening, or reading, which appeals to many types of learners. Online learning that is self-directed is also highly valued and desired by employees as it grants authority to the individual over when and where they learn the required content.

Rapid Changes
Most of the time, the future unfolds gently. However, today we’re faced with a world that changes seemingly overnight and puts all previous business assumptions in question or out of date. For some organizations this has forced them to pivot the way they work, or in some instances, their whole business, to meet today’s reality.

According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, 60 percent of executives globally confirmed they are struggling to keep their workforce current and relevant. Employees and leaders alike require a new set of competencies and need to obtain them quickly in order to be successful in their roles. To accomplish this, online learning is an ideal option for training large groups of employees, very quickly. As everything is done virtually, there is no need to roll out the training in small groups in a given location. No matter where employees are located, online learning allows them to join in from wherever they are to obtain the new skills they need.

Employee Engagement
No matter if your employees are in the office or working from home, the opportunity for learning and development remains a top driver of employee engagement, as proven in numerous research studies. For example, a Udemy Study found that 80 percent of employees said that learning new skills would make them more engaged at work. In another example, a business author and researcher conducted a regression analysis of over three million employee engagement surveys and found that learning and development drives employee engagement, particularly when the learning is aligned to employee aspirations and supported by leadership.

Younger Generations
There are currently four generations in the workforce: baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and the first of Generation Z. The oldest millennials, born between 1981 and 1995, are now in their late 30s and have begun to move into key positions of leadership. While Generation Z, those born between 1996 and 2010, are entering the workforce as digital natives. As a result of this dramatic change in workplace demographics, learning and development preferences and expectations have also changed.

In a Gallup survey, 59 percent of millennials said opportunities to learn and grow were extremely important to them when applying for a job. By offering learning and development opportunities that appeal to all generations now in the workplace, companies will be on better footing to attract and retain the very best. For example, millennials tend to be attracted to learning and development experiences that:

  • Incorporate digital technology
  • Build upon their leadership potential
  • Include interactive, social learning experiences

Importance of Collaboration
Employees today spend an average of 14% of their workweek communicating and collaborating internally. They are also on twice as many teams as they were five years ago. Regardless if this is due to a rise in remote work, organizational complexity, or globalization, the need for effective collaboration skills and tools has never been greater.

In fact, a study conducted by McKinsey found that by implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals, by 20 to 25 percent. But implementing new technology will not be enough. Companies must remember the people who will be using it in their day-to-day lives. These members of your workforce will greatly benefit from collaboration and teamwork training (whether delivered in-class or virtually) that teaches them how to communicate effectively, share resources, remain focused on a unanimous goal and define subgroups.

Chapter 2
Why Do Virtual Learning Programs Fail?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Yet determining what the exact knowledge needed is, researching providers, gaining buy-in and support, and integrating it into the workload can feel like too great an investment for some, especially when times are tough.

Ultimately, this can be a costly mistake, as studies have found that those who make the investment in truly effective training and development experience:

  • 218% higher income per employee
  • 24% higher profit margin
  • Reduced turnover and greater loyalty

Improved engagement (Approximately $500 billion is lost every year due to employee disengagement)
So, whether your reason for implementing virtual learning is to develop specific competencies within your workforce, or to support a strategic organizational initiative, the goal is for it to succeed so that your organization can experience both the tangible and intangible benefits. That begs the question then, why do so many virtual learning programs fail? Below we have listed five common pitfalls so that you can actively work to avoid them when building out your own virtual learning and development solution.

No Explanation on the Purpose or Benefit
It’s hard to care about something you don’t understand, and yet, employees often find themselves pulled into an online learning session with little to no explanation of its purpose. Employees today crave a deeper understanding so they can identify the purpose of training and see how it impacts their overall success at work. In light of this reality, it is important to ensure your virtual training program is set up to introduce the purpose of the training beforehand. Doing so will make it infinitely easier to engage employees and leaders as the training progresses. To do this effectively means creating a training initiative that is directly applicable and practical in employees’ day-to-day lives.

Focuses Only On Knowledge Transfer
Many online training and development programs focus solely on knowledge transfer. Providing knowledge is an intellectual activity, with the goal of informing participants of how or why to do something. Many people who have participated in virtual training have experienced stilted presentations, passive videos narrated by a mechanical voice, overly academic articles, and endless quizzing. What’s worse than being boring and stilted, is the fact that this kind of online training is just not effective for the majority of the population. That’s because these passive eLearning programs do little to change participant behavior long-term. Employees may learn about valuable new skills through passive forms of training, but passive consumption of knowledge doesn’t guarantee application.

On the other hand, virtual learning programs that have participants personally and actively involved in their own learning, encourage an intellectual understanding of the new behaviors to develop quickly. Once this understanding has started to occur, the virtual training must shift information to competence to solidify understanding and build conviction to take the knowledge learned and actually use it. By providing time in the safety of the virtual classroom to practice the new skills and tools, ask questions, and work with colleagues, employees will emerge both competent and confident.

Lacks Live Learning and Active Participation
Passive, self-guided learning where participants listen, watch, or read information, has a few use cases it lends itself decently to, such as technical training. Unfortunately, it typically has very low retention rates, as most people only remember about 10 percent of what they read or hear. Ultimately, this puts your online learning investment at risk.

A better option of virtual learning is known as synchronous training, which “occurs when learners and instructors are interacting in real-time, typically through delivery platforms, remote labs, distance learning technologies such as video conferencing and chat, or collaboration and social learning technologies.” When participants have the opportunity to interact with the facilitator and their colleagues the collective learning increases in a way that cannot happen through passive, self-guided learning. Not to mention, a skilled facilitator can build conviction in participants that it is beneficial to change behavior and adopt the new knowledge, skills, and tools by using language and examples that resonate directly with the participants.

No Opportunity to Practice New Skills and Direction on How to Use Them On the Job
Virtual learning programs that don’t relate to the challenges employees face every day at work do not set participants up to successfully use their new knowledge on the job. For example, understanding the importance of active listening as a communication skill is not the same as applying that skill for oneself in a situation that mimics one similar to the workplace. When online training for employees does not provide an opportunity to practice new skills in real-time with the support of an experienced facilitator who can coach them in a safe environment, participants may be reluctant to use the skills at work.

Chapter 3
Why Does the Learner’s Journey Matter?

In the 2020 Workplace Learning Report, learning and development professionals named learner engagement one of their main challenges. With the shift towards remote work, increased workloads, and short attention spans, this may come as no surprise.

To solve this challenge, learning and development professionals must put greater emphasis on creating a robust, relevant, and immersive learner journey. From the moment pre-work is sent out to participants, to the weeks after training has occurred and everyone has returned to their realities, every experience your learners have must intentionally and strategically encourage engagement. Whatever this journey ends up looking like, it should be heavily influenced by the unique preferences of your learners. Fortunately, a study by LinkedIn found that talent development professionals are already changing the way they deliver training to better meet the needs of all learners. They are looking at increasing the usage of social, mobile, leader involvement, and self-directed learning opportunities to increase engagement, particularly with Millennial and Gen Z workers.

As you search for a virtual training company to work with, proactively look for information on the following four stages of an effective training program. If the provider in question has plans to engage your learners at each stage, then you are one step closer to finding the right partner for your needs and your audience.

Pre-Work and Self-Guided Learning
Unfortunately, pre-work gets a bad reputation. When treated as a “check the box” activity, pre-work can quickly fall flat in the eyes of the participants who have to complete it, learning and development professionals who have to mandate it, and leaders who have to make room for it on a busy day. Remember, first impressions matter and what you decide to send out as pre-work will inform a participant’s opinion of the rest of the training program, so make this count. The activities selected to complete before the live training begins should be relevant, relatively quick to complete and provide learners with the information they need to feel prepared. This is an invaluable opportunity to set the tone of the virtual training to come and get participants excited for what you have planned.

Training Modules or Sessions
When training modules are created to inspire conviction, they effectively change the attitudes, skills, and behaviors needed to unleash every employee’s potential. Employees often learn best through interactive, experiential learning modules that teach and coach them how to actually use the knowledge provided in practice. Experiential learning is an exceptional way to ensure lasting behavior change because it combines immersive activities that mimic real-world challenges with a targeted debrief that connects the lessons learned with the reality of the workplace. It allows participants to learn by doing and not by just listening, reading, or watching. Because they have personally experienced the lessons, new competencies are developed, more information is retained, and individuals are likely to return to work ready and enthusiastic to apply their new knowledge.

Post-Module Assignments
To avoid virtual learning programs from becoming six or more hours long, it is best the training be split into modules with post-module assignments in-between. This makes for a better learner experience, allows participants to practice their new knowledge and skills between modules, and access support from colleagues or their facilitator if they run into challenges. Like the activities required during pre-work, post-module assignments should be relevant and not overly time-intensive. They should reinforce the knowledge provided in the previous module, while also providing information required for the next module that will make sure they have the best experience possible.

There are many things working against the application of new behaviors: old habits, time pressure, peer pressure, lack of support from a supervisor, lack of personal confidence, and just plain forgetting what was learned. This is where sustainment activities show their value. To create lasting change, new skills and behaviors must be retained, coached, reinforced, and measured over time. During this portion of the learner journey, the goal is to remind participants what has been taught and provide any additional tools or resources that would help them back on-the-job.

Chapter 4
Popular Virtual Learning Topics

In order to adapt to a changing world and meet organizational needs, companies today are investing in virtual learning solutions for the following topics:

Leadership Training
The need for great business leaders has arguably never been greater. In order to rise to the challenges, leaders today at all levels need new and improved knowledge, skills, and tools to ensure their own success, along with that of their team and organization. An ideal way to provide this quickly but effectively is with online leadership training. As part of a greater leadership development strategy, virtual learning for leaders will allow you to tackle important challenges and areas such as change management, empowerment, strategy and execution, coaching, and performance management.

Safety Training
In order to lower injury rates, boost productivity, improve morale, and most importantly save lives, it will take more than compliance and technical training. While these training programs are essential, organizations may benefit from taking a step further by creating a personal commitment to safety in every employee and leader. By creating commitment and ownership to their personal safety and the safety of others, even as regulations and safety standards change, real results and behavior change can occur. This can be done with the help of online safety training programs for employees and leaders at all levels and as part of a great learning and development initiative that blends in-class and virtual learning.

Sales Training
In many cases, salespeople would much rather be out selling than in training, so you must provide a good reason for them to be fully present during online sales training. There’s no better way to do that than with experiential activities, videos, case studies, breakout sessions, and a world-class facilitator to facilitate relevant discussions. By using proven learning methodologies in the online classroom, you will be far more likely to engage sales teams, build confidence and competence within individuals, and prepare employees for future growth and change.

Skills and Competency Training
Technical skills vary from function to function, while there are skills that every employee requires, no matter their role or level in the organization. In fact, a survey of L&D professionals and executive leaders named training for soft skills as the leading priority for employee development. To do this both efficiently and effectively, many organizations look to virtual learning to fill the need. Whether the need for training is better communication, accountability, collaboration and teamwork, innovation, or conflict resolution, online skills training can work, you just need to be sure your solution of choice is interactive and offers plenty of opportunities for practice.

Customer Service Training
Given that a moderate improvement in the customer experience would impact the revenue of a typical $1 billion company by an average of $775 million over three years, companies today are increasingly committed to moving beyond customer service to customer centricity. In order to do so successfully, training will be critical. From online customer service training for those in customer-facing positions to company-wide customer centricity training, the goal will be to give employees and leaders the skills and tools they need to put the customer experience at the heart of all their decisions and actions.

Diversity and Inclusion Training
72% of surveyed organizations today are putting a conscious focus on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, which requires intentionally changing the mindset and behavior of employees at every level of the organization. By doing so, organizations can create an environment where everyone walks in every day feeling they truly belong there and can be their authentic selves. To make this a reality, online diversity and inclusion training is one part of a greater strategy. Done well, it can provide knowledge, encourage conversations, and create connections, which are all essential to building a truly inclusive workplace.

Many of these popular virtual learning topics — leadership, safety, sales, customer service, skills, and diversity — can be addressed through a virtual learning solution that utilizes the power of experiential learning to build conviction and create real behavior change.

Chapter 5
What to Look for In a Virtual Training and Development Partner

One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a partner is whether their capabilities align with your business goals. If a potential partner doesn’t have the right level of experience, has never operated in your field before, or strictly delivers off-the-shelf products that do not match your needs, it’s better to know before you make an investment. Here are the key things to look for when choosing a virtual training partner.

An effective virtual learning program or initiative should be designed with you, not for you. The needs of your learners and business are unique, and so to make it as relevant as possible it is essential to prioritize working with a provider who is willing to work in partnership with you and your team. By doing this, your provider can deliver against your reality and specific needs, as to create real behavior change.

Proven Track Record
When hiring an external partner to provide a virtual learning solution, it is important to know why you should trust them with your learners, your reputation, and your organization’s investment. So although they may not be able to disclose client names for privacy reasons, your partner of choice should provide examples of their work and speak to the work they have done with their clients, even without mentioning a specific name.

Consultation Services and Rollout Support
Implementing virtual learning can be exciting, though it is imperative to your success that you do not rush into it. Time taken upfront to understand key challenges, determine the competencies or behaviors that need immediate attention, and to get alignment on the strategic direction, can multiply the impact of your efforts. It is in the best interest of your provider to provide you with the tools and necessary support to accomplish these things, as it will help them craft your perfect solution.

Proven Methodology
Methodology has a significant impact on the success of virtual learning. Many eLearning providers tend to simply provide knowledge by having learners read, watch, or listen, thereby turning training into a purely intellectual activity. While important, other methodologies, such as experiential learning, will go beyond knowledge transfer to build conviction in learners to change their behavior. This is done through interactive and immersive activities that mimic the challenges of the real world while being masked by fun and captivating metaphors. This makes the learning experience fun, engaging, and with the help of a debrief to tie it all together, relevant for everyday application.

Customizing training content, whether delivered in-class or virtually, builds the relevance necessary to engage your audience and inspire them to change their behaviors. Learners will often recognize the time and effort put into virtual training that looks, feels, and sounds like their organization. Therefore, the ideal virtual learning provider will encourage rebranding the materials or adding internal language to the discussion.

Chapter 6
Implementing Virtual Learning That Truly Changes Behavior

Maximizing the success of virtual learning takes more than logging into an online classroom and hoping employees know how to apply the knowledge to change their behavior and improve results. Rather it requires thorough preparation, alignment, and a trusted training partner who can support your needs from beginning to end. At Eagle’s Flight, we understand how to design and deliver training programs that change employees’ hearts and minds, resulting in lasting behavior change. After 30+ years of using experiential learning in the classroom, we have brought the methodology to the virtual classroom with the help of Howspace and their AI-powered learning platform. The result is a virtual learning solution that helps individuals make direct connections between their actions and their desired performance outcomes, resulting in better performance.

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