COVID-19 and its impact on Training and Development

[1]According to Thomas Friedman’s “Golden Arches” Theory, no two countries with McDonald’s restaurants would go to war.  Whereas due to COVID 19, [2]Countries closed their borders, millions of them are under lockdown, schools have closed, international travel has halted, conferences have been cancelled, and global supply chains have been disrupted.  Not a single corner of the global economy is immune to the epidemic coined as “pandemic”.

[3]Events of this magnitude get etched in history for three reasons – i) Devastation (illness and death caused due to its nature), ii) Long-term impact of what it teaches humans, organizations & all other stake holders on things to prioritize and iii) the kind of socio-cultural/political/economical changes they bring about.

While this is at the global level, [4]many organizations across the globe employed significant measures to mitigate the risk of the virus spread by enforcing telecommuting / remote working.  However, [5]as the pandemic spreads, workplace learning/education, training and developments (L & D) teams will be affected. Whether the company already has a business continuity plan in place or is frantically working around the clock to create, the L & D teams are bound to be affected in the coming days, weeks, and months without having one.

[6]TechRepublic’s Macy Bayern writes in “How to manage employees working from home during the corona virus scare” that working from home does not equate to not working, but it does cause people to work differently.” Jason Cipriani writes in his book “Work from Home”: 64 expert tips for staying healthy, happy, and productive – “Not only do employees have to learn how to work from home and remain efficient, but managers also have to learn how to effectively lead and manage remote workers.”  

[7]In such a scenario, it is necessary to think through many ways the COVID-19 pandemic might affect the L&D operations.  Accordingly one can make strategic, thoughtful decisions that will benefit the company and its employees. Depending on business requests, it may become essential to initiate and launch training initiatives specifically in response to the pandemic. Such trainings should take precedence over all other L&D initiatives. 

In order to keep employees busy and feeling productive during slow times, few examples of the types of training requests that may be received could be that of –

  1. Policy-based – Educating employees about company’s leave or remote work policies (OR)
  2. Technology-based – Showing people how to use company hardware and software to work from home, including how to log on and access applications securely (OR)
  3. Health and safety – Reminding people on good hygiene practices and social distancing measures (OR)
  4. Customer-focused – Training staff to answer customer questions about company’s response to the pandemic.

[8] In view of the fact that some form of employee training needs to be carried out by the company during the pandemic, we need to explore the concept of “learning and training anywhere, any time (an idea central to the concept of lifelong learning)” by looking at a number of issues, such as –

  • New and innovative approaches to learning and skills development observed since the start of the pandemic.
  • New forms of learning partnerships / collaboration that emerged during this crisis period.
  • Resources required in maintaining training services remotely via e-learning platforms.
  • Challenges that learners face in accessing / using e-learning.
  • Learners’ adaptability to new and evolving forms of training and learning.
  • Measures to be taken in order to assure that potential learners are aware of existing learning solutions and can access and use them autonomously.
  • Kind of technical hurdles in delivering online training and skills development.
  • Role of individuals and learning providers in minimizing the effects of the disruption and ensure apprentices/learners are not negatively impacted in the long-term.
  • Impact of current situation on the concept of lifelong learning.

At this juncture, it is not out of place to refer to what [9]Charles Darwin says in his “Origin of Species”. He says, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change in which it finds itself”.  By and large, situations like this call for Collaborative Virtual Innovative Digital (COVID) learning/education, training and development strategies that respond to the disruptions as the new normal.  As such [10]this discussion seeks to garner insights into innovative practices in learning, education, training and development, particularly those that are embracing technology to promote skills development. The discussion also encourages addressing emerging issues that arise in the current context of moving to online learning and skills development, and ensures that no one is excluded from new ways of learning and training.

[1] Pankaj Mishra, View: Get ready. A bigger disruption is coming , Mar 17, 2020

[2] Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman, COVID-19: How the enterprise is adapting to disruption, March 17, 2020

[3] Kamal Haasan pens open letter to PM Modi criticising implementation of the lockdown, Apr 08, 2020

[4] PANKAJ MISHRA , Coronavirus is just the start, get ready for a bigger disruption, 17 March, 2020

[5] Amber Wasfy, What Does The COVID-19 Pandemic Mean For Workplace Training?

[6] How COVID-19 is disrupting the enterprise and what you can do about it

[7] Amber Wasfy, What Does The COVID-19 Pandemic Mean For Workplace Training?

[8] Continuing online learning and skills development in times of the COVID-19 crisis , March 2020

[9] Darwin Correspondence Project

[10] Continuing online learning and skills development in times of the COVID-19 crisis , March 2020

Prof. Shankar Anappindi
Prof. Shankar Anappindi

Shankar Anappindi is an accomplished HR Professional with about 20 years of HR expertise in Leadership positions in diverse industry sectors focusing on Recruitment/Talent Acquisition, Human Resource Management, Learning & Development, Employee Life Cycle Management and Regulatory/ Statutory Compliances. During his career he got associated with Alliance Group (Real Estate), Inditrade Capital Ltd. (BFSI), Ramky Group (Real Estate), Karvy Group (BFSI, ITES, BPO) & Saras India Systems Pvt. Ltd. (IT) in various capacities.

He is an academician by interest, a certified professional story teller and trainer by passion and keeps penning the snippets of life and profession on various platforms like Linkedin etc. His articles were published in various national management journals and one international publication in Emerald Insight.

He was invited as Panelist to various HR, Training and Development forums and as Practice Talk Faculty to various institutes of repute like IIM – Ranchi, IMT – Hyderabad, Chitkara University etc and been a member of student-admission panel of Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM, Hyderabad). He is the nominated industry guide and under his guide ship, 1 candidate got awarded the Ph.D from Chitkara University.

He was conferred upon with the recognition of “HR Manager of the year 2017” by Hyderabad Management Association (HMA) and “Influential HR Leaders” for multiple times from Asia Pacific HRM Congress between the year 2015 – 2018.

Standing in today, if someone asks him – How is the Life in Bhagyanagar?…..he often quips “Bhagyanagar Blessed me with 6 B’s – Biryani, Biwi, Baccha, Bunglow, Bullet & Bhavishya”


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1 thought on “COVID-19 and its impact on Training and Development”

  1. subrahmanyam says:

    WHile online learning, elearning are talked off, not many studies were done to assess the impacts on learning community, mostly at employability level. This Coivd made online a default option, and without any norms all schools, colleges etc have switched to online. Good tools of assessment, evaluation increased engegement need to be brought on the L and D platforms of schools/colleges immediately

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