As organizations face unprecedented change and volatility, they have been relying heavily on L&D teams to reskill and upskill the workforce to meet new demands. 

But it is critical that companies understand what kind of impact the pandemic has had on their employees. Many feel overwhelmed as they adjust to new roles, new processes, and a new remote work environment. L&D teams must be cautious not to add to the stress and instead focus on how to better engage learners in this new environment. 

It will be tricky engaging overwhelmed employees operating on different schedules and using new tools. The last thing L&D teams want to add to the chaos. Yet, many L&D teams have been pushing trainings out in rapid succession in the name of upskilling and reskilling, often with poor results. 

Instead, L&D must establish itself as a guiding light in unfamiliar waters. This is critical as organizations see an increased demand for upskilling and reskilling to improve internal talent mobility — especially since just more than one-third of companies believe they are prepared to develop the skills they will need in the future. Business is moving too fast and the workforce is too busy, distracted and now geographically dispersed for traditional training models to be completely effective.

Organizations must continue to rethink the learner experience as part of the overall learning experience in the new hybrid model. L&D teams must take a holistic, learner-centric approach that sustains continuous, personalized learning within the flow of work. Learners should have access to relevant, on-demand material where, when and how they need it. Yet many organizations are unprepared to take this approach. Fewer than half of the companies in Brandon Hall Group’s State of Learning Practices Study say that mission of their learning strategy is to make learning an integral part of the organization’s culture.

In truth, the steps companies should take to engage learners in this new environment are not fundamentally different from before the pandemic. Learners want access to the information and knowledge they need to be successful. They want to know “what’s in it for me” when it comes to training programs. They need relevancy, context and an understanding of the expected outcomes. Once you’re able to establish these things, it comes down to selecting and deploying the tools and technologies to make it happen.

Additionally, L&D teams have to make sure they are not overloading their learners. Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Preferred Provider EI Design has deep expertise in helping companies maximize learner engagement without overwhelming them. A few key strategies they focus on:

  • Gaining a deep understanding of learner needs and how to integrate them into the program
  • Helping companies build a mindset for growth and learning/develop lifelong learners
  • Building great learner and learning experiences to feed that growth mindset
  • Ensuring that training is engaging and immersive training, mitigating the increasing number of distractions in the new learning environment
  • Supporting learning and performance on the job through just-in-time learning and performance supportby integrating learning into the workflow
  • Providing the connections between formal and informal learning that drives continuous learning and development

There are many other strategies to consider but what it important is to start thinking through this lens. In the wake of the pandemic, L&D teams were anxious to push out an array of training opportunities at once, overloading an already overwhelmed workforce. A more measured approach, with a holistic focus on the employee experience, is what is needed in today’s complex, uncertain environment.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

 About Brandon Hall Group Inc. 

Brandon Hall Group is the only professional development company that offers data, research, insights and certification to Learning and Talent executives and organizations. The best minds in Human Capital Management (HCM) choose Brandon Hall Group to help them create future-proof employee development plans for the new era. For over 28 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world influencing the development of over 10,000,000 employees and executives. Our HCM Excellence Awards was the first to recognize organizations for learning and talent and is the gold standard, known as the “Academy Awards of Human Capital Management.” Our cloud-based platform delivers evidence-based insights in the areas of Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Diversity and Inclusion, Talent Acquisition and HR/Workforce Management for corporate organizations and HCM solution providers. To learn more, visit For information on Brandon Hall Group’s research and how we can assist your organization, please visit

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David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.