Implementing Blended Learning for the Hybrid Workforce: 5 Steps

Now that workers in many industries have begun returning to the office, organizations are adjusting to a completely transformed environment. Employers will have to manage a hybrid workforce with flexible schedules, be prepared for a degree of uncertainty, and anticipate stumbling blocks. But work must go on and so should learning and development. In the current situation, workforce learning—both upskilling and reskilling—are critical. How can L&D teams design and offer training programs in this changing landscape while balancing the needs of both remote and in-person employees?

Hybrid Working Future

Blended learning is the answer. Blended learning, also known as hybrid learning, integrates synchronous classroom training and asynchronous online learning. With a blended approach, learners can benefit from both self-paced and one-on-one interaction with instructors. The synchronous training occurs in physical classrooms or through virtual instructor-led training (VILT). The self-paced training can be through any digital platform such as eLearning, microlearning, or just-in-time performance support.

A blended learning program can help organizations develop the strengths of each form of training—the right amount of human interaction or social learning through ILT; the flexibility of working at one’s own pace; and the right engagement through immersive learning. This kind of hybrid approach helps to facilitate the knowledge retention and behavior change that is expected from learning and development. Here are five steps for creating a successful blended learning plan.

Step # 1: Conduct a learning analysis

As with any learning plan, you first need to undertake a learning analysis. As learning requirements have evolved, so must the analysis format for developing effective and measurable training. Update your analysis approach to generate an inclusive outcome that incorporates all aspects of the modern learner. Detailing requirements helps to determine the organizational goals for blended learning and establish factors such as budget, cost, time, return-on-investment, inclusivity, workforce personas, engagement, competencies and more. The goal is to maximize your return-on-investment (ROI) while improving performance, irrespective of the mode and approach to learning. With a hybrid approach, understanding the right blend for your learning is key to ensuring a successful experience for your workforce.

Step 2: Map the solution to requirements

Before you start the learning design, ensure the solution is in line with your organization’s goals and the employee’s personal learning journey. Consider working backward from the desired result and take into account whether the learning experience will be transformative for the employee over the shortest duration possible. Understanding the requirement will provide a better roadmap for the intended learning. Often when planning the design of a solution, requirements are identified in the beginning and may not be apparent or even the basis for a sound instructional strategy.  In the end, mapping throughout the design phase will ensure better alignment to demonstrate learner comprehension and engagement.

Step 3: Plan the project with a blended learning expert

Collaborate with a learning partner to ensure a smooth design for training activities in a blended program. There will always be unexpected issues which could be identified and addressed with the help of an experienced learning partner. Considerations such as what formats work better for in-person and online collaboration will help plan for a more engaging solution. Relying on the expertise of a seasoned learning vendor will help expedite your process with proven best practices and by reducing the guess work. This will help an organization to focus on business goals rather than on time discovering what techniques could work the best. With the goal of better learner engagement and clear measurability, planning with an experienced partner will provide the foundation for well-designed immersive experiences. This will also move an organization’s strategy forward to produce quicker results in a shorted timeframe.

Step 4: Launch a pilot before implementing training

As with any project, conducting a pilot is always recommended. Testing will provide perspective on what works well and builds credibility with learners. Once the program has been rolled out, generate a positive buzz so that it gains maximum exposure and builds enthusiasm with employees. It helps if the training focuses on outcomes while also being fun and engaging. Do the in-person learning experiences and online approach accomplish the same objectives throughout the learning? The pilot will enable you to pivot and make the necessary updates to improve the learner’s experience.

Step 5: Evaluate the effectiveness

Evaluation begins during the planning phase and continuous for the life of the learning. Once the blended training has gone live and begins collecting data, it is time to evaluate its effectiveness. Having effective data will allow you to adjust the training as necessary to make learning more effective. Remember that experiential learning is the most effective approach and should provide the best value and return on performance (ROP). Once the data collected is reviewed, examine the trends and identify gaps and areas where improvement in the training program can be enhanced. Utilize analytics to track and measure useability indicators to create a useful and scalable roadmap for sustainable success.

To find out more about how KnowledgeWorks Global Learning can help create highly engaging blended workforce training to manage your hybrid workforce, please contact Kelly.Lake@kwglobal.com.