So, what’s the key learning for businesses post-coronavirus?


Dr Nick van Dam, Chief Learning Officer – IE University

person using MacBook Pro

Corporate learning and leadership development will change forever, with most programs moving to a digital and ‘blended’ format. This is one of the main conclusions of the ‘Learning and Leadership Development During Times of Covid 19 Survey Report’ developed by Prof. Dr. Nick van Dam, IE University Chief Learning Officer and Director for the IE Center for Corporate Learning Innovation, and former CLO and HR Executive at McKinsey & Company. The report gathers views from 60 CLOs and Senior L&D Leaders globally to analyze challenges and opportunities for corporate development the new, post-Covid business world.

Virtual L&D programs are rapidly becoming the new norm for businesses worldwide. Forty-one per cent of organizations have already begun converting in-person programs into virtual and blended programs. Success in terms of delivery and impact of these courses is yet to be seen.

Most CLOs (59%) agree that they have the expertise to develop virtual leadership programs, while 41% admit to facing challenges in implementing successful virtual or blended courses. A lack of methodology was cited as the biggest challenge (28%), followed by inadequate technology infrastructure (21%).

Since Covid-19, there has been a notable shift in of L&D courses towards crisis leadership and remote management, and an expectation for business leaders to take part. Although virtual leadership development programs are relatively new to most businesses, 68% CLOs expect business leaders to recognize the need to learn new skills and attend.

“In this report, we found that in the short-term, L&D functions have shifted their focus toward the most urgent priorities, such as assisting employees while working remotely, and supporting their personal wellbeing in these stressful times. These leaders are also expediting the digitization of learning content. The long-term view is that there are many advantages to this digitization, including the personalization of the learning journey and the ability to deliver rapid cost-effective learning to all employees”, highlights Nick van Dam.

“During this time, we see a fantastic opportunity for Learning and Development leaders to recreate the learning experience, to make it more specific to real-time needs, and more creative, innovative and engaging. Leaders will need to develop more agile and nimble working styles. And L&D functions will be required to accomplish more with less resources”, explains Nick van Dam.

Even before COVID-19, companies had been experiencing a need to upskill and reskill the workforce in order to thrive and grow. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey (2020), 87% of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. The coronavirus pandemic will just greatly accelerate this need for upskilling and reskilling, as many of the jobs that have been shut down, will not return. And the new environment will require a host of new skills.

Key facts from the Survey:

  • 41% of organizations have begun converting in-person programs into virtual programs.
  • Lack of methodology (28%), technologies (21%), resources and expertise (31%) are the biggest challenges in developing high quality virtual leadership programs.
  • 68% of respondents expect that leaders will attend virtual leadership programs.
  • 25% of L&D functions have seen a budget reduction.
  • 5% of L&D Staff has been redeployed to other parts of the business.
  • 57% of L&D focus on new and critical business initiatives.
  • 53% of L&D functions are focused on helping employees work virtually.


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