Free guide to the top 20 L&D challenges and how to overcome them
L&D deals with various challenges while developing learning strategies and methods. Fortunately, the solutions to these challenges can guide you in creating effective learning content.
21 min. read • Videhi Bhamidi
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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to several significant changes in the corporate sector. During this critical period, L&D (Learning and Development) plays an essential role in stepping up to maintain a healthy and productive workforce for the businesses.
As L&D, you have the know-how and digitization skills to deliver training through online resources, eluding the need for face-to-face interaction. As e-learning facilitates corporate training even during this pandemic, employees entirely rely on digital courses and insights to progress.
The onus, therefore, lies on you to hone and develop sustainable strategies with the use of technology to enable accessible learning and communication methods. We have identified seven major areas, 20 Learning and Development challenges, and viable solutions that can guide you in creating effective learning content in the digital mode.
Challenges #1, #2, #3 – Shortage of budget, time, and resources
As your company prepares to ride the wave of new Learning and Development challenges in a fast-evolving business environment, it becomes imperative to reset, revamp, or realign your learning strategy to drive it to the next level. You may need to involve a degree of experimentation to find the best fit.
However, making these changes is easier said than done. It inevitably calls for an investment of resources in terms of time, costs, and people. The need of the hour is an economical, feasible model that can give you the desired results in a time-effective and cost-effective manner.
Your company’s challenge is to keep costs low and have a quick turnaround. Your L&D department will have to either turn to off-the-shelf courses or work with a third-party vendor to create training. Both these options usually involve a huge budget, which your company may not find profitable.
Moreover, there is a big chance that bespoke e-learning will not meet your requirements or must go through time-consuming iterations. This is likely to cause your company to miss its business goals. Other things add to the challenges of conventional L&D strategies as well, such as:
A fluctuating pool of experienced trainers.
A tectonic shift towards digitization.
Geographically distributed teams in different time zones.
Requirements of contextualization for the new expanding markets
The key lies in quickly enabling L&D professionals to adapt effectively, seamlessly, and naturally to a simple, fast, and user-friendly method of content generation. Your L&D strategy will have to move away from purely physical face-to-face training to a blended model. Making that change will involve a great deal of unlearning and quick new learning in a democratic and social way.
The changing times are a call to action for you to keep pace, have a strategy to take advantage of existing resources, and enable non-e-learning professionals and subject-matter experts (SMEs) to create content in-house. The T-Mobile and Nielsen stories are good examples of customers who made this change successfully.
The solution lies in a scalable approach known as Employee-Generated Learning (EGL). This ecosystem of reduced learning costs shifts the responsibility for creating learning content from instructional designers to co-creation with employees. The result is having relevant learning modules that are always up to date and accessible at any time and place through e-learning software tools like LMS or LXP.
A few benefits of Employee-generated Learning:
It is unequivocally faster, more cost-effective, agile, and scalable than other ways of creating learning, as it will quickly respond to changes in your business scenario.
It is higher in quality because it is based on real-life knowledge and expertise relevant to your micro business environment.
The approach trains people on what they need to know to do well in their roles. It has a zero learning curve as it takes from the existing expertise, work practices, and culture and keeps pace with changing business opportunities, and Learning and Development challenges.
You can align learning outcomes with your business growth and development.
Challenge #4 – Missing alignment between training and business
As technology alters and a rapidly changing business environment throws in new Learning and Development challenges, many companies flounder with some tremendous and costly e-learning L&D tools. These could be off the shelf or from a third-party vendor that may not stand the uncertainties of time simply because it lacks upgrade and is not tailor-made to the specific business needs.
The solution lies with your employees, as they are experts. They understand your business, challenges, and opportunities best. Tapping into their skills, experience, and knowledge can genuinely transform your business.
Employee-generated Learning is a new-age learning strategy for L&D in corporations. It boasts a bottom-up approach, bringing value to all stakeholders and providing accountability and ownership to employees. The role of L&D, therefore, shifts from being a course creator to that of a facilitator or co-creator. L&D also maintains quality benchmarks and best training practices.
This addresses the issue of stringent budgets and a small team. You will go a long way in aligning your training and business goals and ensuring learning outcomes if you incorporate Employee-generated Learning, appropriate authoring tools, and a suitable LMS or LXP is driven by AI.
Challenge #5 – Build a learning culture
A visionary L&D manager knows where he or she wants to go and how to get there. L&D managers have to move away from using conventional strategies that are going out of sync. Instead, L&D should embrace more futuristic strategies with the use of blended learning, Employee-generated Learning, and the right authoring tools and hosting it on LMS.
This will help to keep the business competitively ahead of the game. This type of learner-to-learner learning through Employee-generated Learning will encourage a learning culture within your team or company.
The future of corporate L&D is more self-directed and social. A peer-coaching method thus becomes the go-to learning strategy for a manager that wants to build a learning culture. Or that wants the business to be responsible for learning and is looking for a simple authoring tool with easy publication options to their preferred environment.
As you embrace Employee-generated Learning as the backbone of your learning strategy, your L&D team will stay ahead of the learning curve. It will keep your people motivated, be aligned to business opportunities and challenges, knowledge currency becomes good, reflects a favorable ROI; in essence, deliver more. You will succeed in creating a thriving, sustainable learning culture which is democratic and social.
The training has to be moved from the classroom to digital platforms using e-learning software to make the learning strategies work.
Switch from classroom to digital
Before COVID-19, many organizations were already digitizing their training efforts in small to medium ways. But often they ran into the main challenges of how to make that switch. They would wonder about things like: Can our classroom trainer adapt to the change? How do we enable them to go online with a zero learning-curve? Right now, digitization is a norm and necessity for L&D.
Expand your L&D capacity
With Employee-Generated Learning, you can scale your training output using a fraction of your L&D budget.
Faced with such challenges, the reputed global company Electrolux managed to find solutions to their requirement for scaling training output and moving away from face-to-face learning to a blended learning approach with the support of digitalization. Though Electrolux still uses face-to-face training for a few topics, it now is more focused on using the blended approach for most of its programs. Easy-to-use e-learning software has enabled Electrolux to reach out widely to its employees and increase its training operations effectiveness.
Challenge #6 – Face-to-face training to digital training
First of all, we don’t recommend a sudden and complete switch. That will throw the trainers and the learners both out of gear. A blended learning approach is more appropriate. Blended learning will not only be more time-efficient for both trainers and learners; it will also be flexible, scalable, and sustainable. Learn more about blended learning best practices.
Unlike face-to-face training, virtual training incorporates web-based technology to impart the training. The digital medium is used to provide knowledge to the learners (your employees).
With the help of user-friendly e-learning authoring software, trainers can create exciting virtual course content ranging right from info sessions, step-by-step guides, microlearning modules to video tutorials, interactive learning games, puzzles, quizzes, webinars, and much more.
By using the right e-learning software to create in-house course content in conjunction with a fitting blended learning modality would be a great way to start. Giving trainers an easy to use authoring tool to create content will do wonders for their confidence.
Also, they would be well prepared for the training sessions. Providing an effective LMS with features like hosting and result-tracking will also help in smooth transitioning.
The upside of this switch from face-to-face to digital training majorly is much more cost-effective and allows for greater consistency in the training programs.
Challenge #7 – Instructor-led training to virtual instructor-led training
One of the critical challenges L&D and HR professionals face during this pandemic is helping employees that work from home to switch from face-to-face to virtual training. A rapid shift from classroom to digital training may be the need of the hour, but has to be executed judiciously without which learning strategy could fall flat.
The primary pain point in most virtual programs is ensures the same level of engagement and efficacy seen in the classroom. Maintaining this is critical to meet learner expectations.
Virtual training can be synchronous (Virtual Instructor-led Training or VILT) or asynchronous (e-learning). With easy, robust, and seamless tooling, VILT can become the most comfortable and sought-after digital training methods.
This training method is fast growing and is an ideal solution for reaching out to remotely located learners. To add to its advantages, it’s budget-friendly too. It is also possible to use both kinds of learning with a blended approach to get the best results.
Synchronous training with authoring tools and LMS
Synchronous training makes it possible to combine VILT with a web conferencing tool. During the sessions, teachers can share live surveys or short quizzes. This will not only keep the participants engaged, it will also allow for real-time feedback collection. Afterward, modalities can be shared via email, a link, or a QR code. Trainers can also set up a discussion forum where participants can interact as a part of the curriculum.
Asynchronous training with authoring tools and LMS
Since there is no real-time interaction with the participants in the asynchronous method, this type of training is prevalent in the corporate sector. Content can be created online using pre-recorded videos, webinars, and online assessments. Participants are free to learn at their own pace. This also results in less work for trainers, L&D professionals, and HR managers.
Moving face-to-face training online is not so difficult. Keeping the hectic schedules and irregular work hours in the corporate world in mind, switching from classroom to digital training is the best option.
Blended learning can leverage the upside of both traditional and digital modalities
Implementing blended learning
Blended learning is one of the most sought-after learning methods in the corporate world. When combined, face-to-face instruction and online training can be a powerful medium. The right blend of modalities can cater to the diverse learning requirements of employees and reach the goal.
Challenges #8 – How to implement blended learning
Blended learning is the best way to motivate your employees’ performance and keep them motivated and excited about the learning process. The correct blend of either face-to-face training and digital training or a different combination of digital training platforms will help trainers deliver their knowledge with the appropriate authoring tools. An easy-to-use authoring tool and a user-friendly LMS (Learning Management System) is needed. LMS helps keep track of the learners’ progress and help in hosting. There are a few combinations of blended learning that have shown positive results:
Blending a flipped classroom with digital resources
In a traditional scenario, active and passive learning happens in the classroom. Learners apply knowledge at home or in the workplace. With a flipped scenario, new things are learned online and practiced and applied in the classroom
Blending multiple digital resources for pre and post classroom support
This kind of blending involves digital resources like audio, video, online quizzes, games, and more. You can use these both before the training or as a follow-up module to check learners’ understanding. You can also supplement their learning with these resources.
Blending with digital resources for on the job support
Once the learning process is complete and learners start their performance period, you can provide additional support. For example, in the form of digital information nuggets like other resources and job aids.
The key to successful blended learning is to know both the organization’s and its learners’ requirements. Adequate knowledge will not only help in better planning and easy customization, it will also lead to lower budgets and lesser time constraints. Ultimately, that will result in better performance and output. Interested on blended learning? Check out which are the benefits of blended learning.
Challenges #9, #10, #11 – E-learning newbies, switchers, and blenders
For L&D professionals who are newbies and are still transitioning from traditional classrooms to the world of e-learning, blending different modalities will help become happy switchers.
The physical solution
The best thing is to provide switchers with easy-to-use authoring tools and an LMS. These help create the content they want to share and track learners’ results. This type of ecosystem is comfortable and not too overwhelming for most newbies.
The multiple modalities solution
With the multiple modalities solution, switchers need to learn how to choose different digital modalities of tools that support Content Authoring, LMS, LXP, Microlearning and performance support.
To conclude, the best ways to implement blended learning in the corporate world are:
Identify your goals and choose appropriate e-learning software tools such as authoring tools, LMS, or LXP.
Make a flexible blended learning strategy.
Use multiple modalities for ease of operation and to keep motivation levels high.
Follow up on employee progress and gather feedback regularly.
Encourage forming blending learning communities within the organization for accessible and easy communication.
Provide online support for as long as required.
E-learning courses can be designed quickly when you embrace knowledge sharing
Knowledge sharing implementation
Challenge #12 – How to implement knowledge sharing
Experienced subject-matter experts are your most important asset. They are tactical storehouses and privy to crucial business knowledge and first-hand experiences. As L&D, you are in the position to build on that expertise and leverage it with knowledge sharing models and training. Having an excellent learning strategy with an implementation plan will be a hit. But how do you go about it?
Make sure you identify the knowledge that you need to capture. Your knowledge management system has to group, structure, and record this information so that your employees can access it and use it effectively. A healthy employee relationship is paramount to its success.
Also, move all the offline knowledge stored in PPTs, PDFs, handouts, guides, etc. online with your authoring tool. Employee-generated Learning with a zero learning-curve tool is aptly suited for it.
In this endeavor, L&D experts transition to the role of facilitators, guides, co-authors, and quality checkers. Knowledge sharing is an ongoing process of creating, curating, and updating. These are the most critical areas for implementation:
Make knowledge sharing user-friendly
With SMEs already stretched for time because of their core job responsibilities, knowledge sharing has a low priority. Invest in a stable, cloud-based solution with a zero learning-curve and easy-to-use e-learning authoring tool and Employee-generated Learning.
Incentivize knowledge sharing
With no tangible benefits visible, some SMEs do not want to make time for sharing knowledge. Recognition by management and peers, consideration during appraisals, and prestige in meetings can be essential incentives. Motivate SMEs by mentioning them in the internal newsletter or incorporating their name in the learning content. These can be motivating factors that increase performance, participation, and pride.
Make knowledge sharing your work culture
The more of an everyday affair knowledge sharing becomes, the lesser the resistance, and the more likely it is that employees will participate. Make it an inherent and integral part of the work culture and make sure it is encouraged, promoted, and appreciated.
You’ll also want to assign regular time slots for SMEs to take time off the work floor to write or update learning content. Knowledge sharing can then organically get imbibed in your company’s culture. Leading by example is the ideal way to garner support for the strategy and address anxieties regarding job-security.
Adopt Performance Support
Even a tiny nugget of specialized knowledge can add to the effectiveness of the team. An e-learning authoring tool that is mobile-friendly and includes options for uploading screen captures, crisp content, and short videos can quickly help SMEs share tips and tricks that make a big difference. It will help learners to access information quickly when required
Resistance to Mindset Change
Knowledge sharing cannot be a mindset of everyday work experience if employees don’t see it as relevant and worthwhile. Train SMEs to pick knowledge sharing targets selectively. List the areas in which lesser experienced or new colleagues would benefit most from sharing knowledge.
E- learning content creation
E-learning courses can be designed quickly when you embrace knowledge sharing.
Challenge #13 – Slow and lengthy content development process
After visualizing the training landscape, L&D is required to redefine its learning strategy. Traditional content creation methods fall into the trap of being a long drawn process having its own set of challenges. By the time it is ready, the chance to leverage it will be lost and require updates. In effect, a repeat of the whole fruitless cycle again.
Challenge #14 – Moving from off the shelf or bespoke created content to in-house creation
The immediate options that are available to your organization are off the shelf or bespoke content. They may not be cost-effective, mis-aligned to exact business requirements, and are time-consuming along with an increased opportunity cost.
Hence, many organizations are heading to in-house content. However, the instruction design and authoring tools available in the market are usually complicated. The way out is to equip employees with the means to create quality content in-house efficiently.
The trick lies in leveraging the already existing tried and tested in-house content to repurpose and reposition it. Moving it from an offline to an online platform using the full-featured authoring tool becomes your company’s preferred mode on a fast trajectory. With the use of an e-learning course creating authoring tool, your company will be able to make its minimum viable product offering.
Making an LXP the centerpiece of your L&D training ensures moving it to the next level with various new exciting elements. However, it still needs an enriched and quality content to populate it and be leveraged by AI. Furthermore, LXPs use numerous methods to enable its much-touted collaborative and social learning tool. However, their framework needs quality content for it to be useful.
You can effectively create content with an e-learning authoring tool using the Employee-generated Learning strategy. The content recommender systems or algorithm in LXPs are based on the content available within in the system.
Right now, we are at a juncture where most of these systems are empty and it is becoming more important than ever to fill them up with content pieces. Easygenerator helps in solving the “empty Netflix syndrome” by allowing you and your employees to create content pretty quickly.
Challenge #15 – Content created centrally and distributed regionally
Just having good quality content is only half the battle won. More often than not, the centralized team of the company creates content and in case of an international company operating in different geographies, L&D has to provide the same content in the local languages. Hence the next step your company will have to take is to translate it into multiple languages.
Often beyond translation, localization and contextualization for the different markets and geographies become imperative. Xliff is a standard localization format used by many companies in this effort. The ideal solution would be to have authoring tools facilitate built-in Xliff feature, where a course can sent for translation followed by importing multiple language files as one file with subfiles. It should allow L&D to:
Manage this file and co-authors on sub-files
Publish as one file (with language switch)
Facilitate collaboration between authors/localizers
Challenge #16 – Content searcher
One of the key differentiators of LXPs is that they include sophisticated content discovery capabilities. Learners are not restricted by canned catalog content but also are guided towards relevant content by the platform. However, a good fit is not found. Hence having LXP alone does not meet the company requirement.
Third-party vendors cannot make specific e-learning course content for your company’s unique requirement. Harnessing the powerful Employee-generated Learning strategy in the authoring tool will be the cherry on the pie.
An e-learning authoring tool leveraging Employee-generated Learning as a learning strategy is a revolutionary approach set to change how e-learning courses are created and will put you on the top of your game. It makes the whole process efficient, brings value to both the client and employees of your company. The product you will have in your hand will be a branded course that is outstanding, interactive, and engaging.
The use of Employee-generated Learning will ensure that all business concerns are handled on the go and within the budget. Your training courses can be incorporated into any LMS or LXP to meet your company’s local requirements. Adopting Employee-generated Learning as your strategy to design e-learning content in-house will keep your company profitable as you continue to enjoy being the market leader by not missing out on any new business opportunity.
Ease of content creation and knowledge sharing is as vital for external training as in internal training.
Challenge #17 – No access to my LMS
Are you tasked with training your external staff, partners, or retailers, and is it impossible for them to access your LMS? Often, company policy requires third parties to get a certification before gaining access to a plant or mine (e.g., BHP). Sometimes a company that is acquired but not integrated needs training externally before being on board with the mainstream.
In situations where providing training to your external team without trading in your internal LMS is an essential requirement, the best solution is to publish your training content and make it available in a secure way. External learners typically are expected to find, purchase, and interact with content from multiple sources to get a fair amount of inside knowledge of the organization.
With the help of Employee-generated Learning, you can use internal expertise to create thoroughly professional content. SMEs can create and publish training content in a secure manner with cloud-based, easy-to-use authoring tools that support different publications and sharing options. You can provide the content so that maximum knowledge is shared in minimum time, and unless the training quality is optimum, the company reputation and performance would be at stake.
External training is as essential as internal training because you are training an extension of your organization who ought to be knowledgeable and skilled enough to execute the goals.
Ensure ease of use by learners and also address challenges faced by them.
Despite creating the best content, and using the best e-learning software to present your content, unless you align the content with your learners’ core purpose, it would be a waste of time.
It is more or less imperative to know your learners and the challenges they are facing before you create your e-learning program. Once you comprehend their needs, goals, and aspirations, it will be easier to grab their attention and focus on the course. Now the question that comes up is, what needs to be done to appeal to your learners?
You need to stimulate them with solutions and make them excited about the program. Most importantly, provide solutions that are instrumental in solving the problems or knowledge gaps they face at work.
How can the solutions be provided? First of all, you need to find out what learners expect from you. Once this is known, delivering as per expectations is easier. Once trust and understanding are built between you and the learners, it won’t take long to change their behavior and mindset.
Challenge #18 – Low motivation
Due to hectic work schedules and time constraints, learners seem to have low motivation and engagement levels in digital courses. So, do you want your learners to quit the course midway? If not, keeping them engaged throughout the entire course is the only thing that will make them stick around.
How? You can keep them engaged by knowing their motivations, expectations, weaknesses, and challenges. It would help if you thought like they do and provide them with interactive content in the form of short videos, hotspots, and game-oriented activities, using various authoring, interactive and social elements of e-learning software like authoring tools, LMS, LXP, and so on.
Challenge #19 -Listening passively and low participation
Often, the virtual classroom sessions are not engaging because there is low participation, and even if some participants attend, most of them are passive learners. In both these situations, hardly any learning is happening.
In such scenarios using the virtual flipped classroom approach seems to work well. You just need to provide opportunities with the help of the right authoring tools like introducing pre-reading material, online learning material, and conduct activities before the virtual session.
Once this is taken care of, the virtual classroom time can be saved for discussion and workshopping. Following this up with additional post-training activities and online learning material for revision can also improve the retention of classroom discussions. You can use LMS support for sharing material and result tracking.
Challenge #20 – No time to attend trainings or to take long e-learning courses
It’s important to understand learners’ lack of time to spend hours at a stretch on prolonged classroom sessions. Therefore, if you can incorporate learning into their work flow, they would readily participate. With the bottom-up approach like Employee-generated Learning, SME’s can create performance support content using appropriate authoring tools and Performance Support Systems.
One of the frequent learner challenges in the corporate world is the lack of time to attend long e-learning courses. You can easily resolve this challenge by using the latest techniques to create short, focussed, and high-impact training content. Microlearning and Performance support are effective methods to consider to develop short, bite-sized learning. An easy starting point could be to provide easy tooling for Employees to create short content and offering guidance or structure or templates to reinforce short content designs.
To further boost the motivation levels of the learners and slowly shifting them towards continuous learning, space out their learning. You can schedule small bursts of learning in pockets of time, either daily or periodic learning material in small dynamic bits to instil a learning habit.
The learner can absorb this learning at his/her own pace and convenience. You can make a beginning with simple authoring tools and PSS to create short content designs that are fast, focussed and solve a problem.
In many cases, learners do not have the time or motivation to develop extensive e-learning programs. “Grab & go” solutions are the need of the hour. It becomes important to incorporate performance support principles and keep the knowledge as nuggets or bite-sized to be read while on the move.
Each bit should focus on answering one specific question. It’s essential to get it just right to be able to get the learners’ attention. The Employee-generated Learning approach to creating performance support content heightens the alignment between business goals and performance goals.
About the author
Videhi Bhamidi is a Learning Product Consultant at Easygenerator. With over 15 years of experience in e-learning, user-experience research, and thought-leadership projects, she is a regular contributor to L&D magazines. She is an Oxford alumnus and strives to fuse design, research, technology, and didactics in her solutions.