COVID-19: building a business case for your L&D plan

By Anthony Tattersall
Anthony Tattersall, Head of EMEA at Coursera on building a business case for your L&D plan amidst COVID-19...

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has forced organisations around the world to transition their employees to remote working. This has come with its challenges but businesses are making great efforts to ensure the wellbeing of their employees is not overlooked, whilst they adapt their business model to meet new customer needs.

We’ve seen AirBnB helping house 100,000 healthcare professionals, Dyson producing ventilators for NHS hospitals and Virgin Media closing physical stores to go 100% online. With these shifts, companies are having to seriously focus on scaling digitally across the workforce. Online learning can play a key role in this respect. In fact, IDC estimates platforms like ours can sum up to a 746% return on investment for businesses over a three year period.

Let's take a closer look at some of the ways businesses can benefit.

Upskilling and reskilling for new roles

When digital transformation is the only way, we’re forced to adapt. The good news is that businesses offering opportunities to upskill and reskill through online learning, can help reduce attrition by up to 38%, whilst re-adjusting their business needs. What’s more, we’re not re-inventing the wheel completely. Courses that received the most signups over the last three months don’t differ drastically from those a year ago, it’s the volume of signups that’s changed.

In the last three months, we’ve had 1.24 million enrollments in data science, business and technology courses. Of our most popular ones, such as Machine learning from Stanford University, we had nearly three times more learners in the last 30 days than in the same period last year, whilst Programming for Everybody from University of Michigan received more than nine times their 2019 figure and Financial Markets from Yale University increased its learner enrollments by 841%. We’ll surely see new courses emerge but for now these results signal a positive forward-thinking approach by learners, already taking active steps to remain relevant and employable.

Learning to work 100% remotely

As we adapt to a virtual world of work where everything is done remotely, learning also serves as a catalyst for hope and adaptability. According to IDC, teams across organisations, especially those focused on technology-driven subject matter, achieve higher productivity levels when able to apply new skills and knowledge. Today, we’re experiencing similar trends amongst those looking to adapt to remote working - in other words, everyone unless unable to do so.

We’ve seen courses such as Communication Strategies for a Virtual Age from University of Toronto with a 7,140% increase in enrollments in the last 30 days compared to the same period one year ago. Other courses such as Teamwork Skills: Communicating Effectively in Groups from University of Colorado, Boulder has seen a 12,900% increase. This helps employees gain confidence to make decisions and challenge those that aren’t right in areas that are most relevant to make remote working successful, turning them into subject matter experts.

Achieving it all, cost-efficiently

There’s no denying that this crisis is and will continue having a huge impact on our economy. More than half a million companies in the UK have reported being in “significant distress” and the majority of those still operating have reported lower turnover. Despite this, the ability to drive skills development for positive business outcomes has never been as essential. Online learning can help alleviate the burden. Training costs can be reduced by up to 24% using the right online training support and evidence suggests you’re able to train 94% more people using 40% less training resources. These benefits are much needed right now.

Alongside this, there are many Coronavirus response initiatives out there that may be able to help you. For example, at Coursera we recently launched our Employee Resilience Initiative, to give our enterprise customers free access to a curated set of courses. The idea is to help them support their employees transition to remote work, increase digital readiness and improve mental wellbeing during this particularly stressful time. When digital is the only way forward, we’re forced to adapt. As we do so, it’s crucial to deliver truly effective and engaging learning experiences that guarantee we can amplify the success of our organisation, its services and its people. As we continue transitioning to a new world of work, providing relevant content for our employees to learn is key. It will empower them to gain the understanding and confidence they need to make the best decisions for our business or challenge those that can be improved. 

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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