News story

The genie is out of the bottle - COVID-19 has changed corporate learning forever

LondonLearning NewsFuse Universal

Fuse Universal has seen so much positivity from their customers over the last few months, when many of their worlds have been turned upside down. Fuse CEO & Chief Storyteller Steve Dineen wanted to capture some of the incredible ways their customers are transforming their L&D.


Fuse Universal's CEO Steve Dineen was keen to share some of the successes and new ways of working by many of their customers. What is clear from these examples below is that now is a time where everyone can make a huge positive difference, especially if they learn at an accelerated pace from each other.

Undoubtedly this is one of the most challenging times individuals, companies and society have faced. People are having to rapidly adjust their personal and professional lives, with almost no precedent or experience to leverage. Having to learn faster than ever before and create a new way of working, but at the same time, the "learning" industry has an opportunity to add greater impact to their people and their organisations than ever before.

To give context, to this article, Fuse Universal saw a huge increase in engagement across their customer base. With traffic doubling from a million views a week to 2 million from the 2nd week of March onwards, Fuse wanted to dig into the data to understand what their customers and learners were doing differently. They wanted to see if there were valuable lessons to learn, capture and share for everyone to benefit from.

1. Digital leadership engagement means people engagement

Fuse Universal has seen a huge upsurge in leaders connecting with their people in more frequent and digital ways, for example, Seasalt, a lifestyle retailer who has very high levels of people engagement (over 90% monthly active usage) is seeing its leadership team connect and engage with its people in a variety of ways. During these days of social distancing, people engagement is even more key to mental health, sense of connection and the maintenance of company cultures.

Seasalt's CEO Paul Hayes, published an article recently in the online fashion site "Drapers" eloquently saying - "During this time, I think it's more important than ever for leaders of retail businesses to remain connected to their employees and to be visible. Communications are transparent and regular at Seasalt. We post a daily update on our recently introduced app, The Anchor (Fuse), which has proven invaluable at this time and can be accessed by all of our employees. I also send a weekly message to the entire business. We're running a whole range of internal initiatives, including posting video content, mindfulness and opportunities to participate in activities from home."

Paul and his team don't see themselves as simply stakeholders in connecting with their people; they understand the need to be the biggest active advocates of people connectivity. Right now, people are scared, and social distancing magnifies that fear. People need leaders to be heard regularly and in a human way.

Steve Dineen said, "Work with your leaders to create, short regular videos, where people can see and emotionally feel them and take strength from them, it's far more powerful than emails or newsletters written for them. They create a sense of security and oneness. People need to feel they have been informed honestly in uncertain times."

2. Crowdsource change

As a tech startup/scale-up, Fuse Universal is used to constant change, and having to "pivot" business direction is a part of their normal world, but even for those that are set up for rapid change, they are also shocked by the severity. For many larger companies though they have been thrust into a world where they need to pivot like a startup and learn to work and collaborate purely through digital technology for the first time. What is evident is that to survive and thrive, companies can't just wait for the normal command and control instructions and ideas generated from yesteryear to come from the top, as experience is less relevant in an unprecedented pandemic and new ideas are of higher value than ever before.

One company that has broken the notion of ideas only coming through the top is Rockwool, and a great example was how they crowdsourced ideas from the whole collective intelligence of their organisation, in the area of sustainability. Rockwool created a campaign where new ideas were encouraged & captured in videos across the organisation, discussed in an open fashion and the top 7 being celebrated company-wide, which the short 1-minute video beneath by Rockwool illustrates.

Right now, it feels like there needs to be lots more of this, more harnessing of ideas from across organisations, leveraging the best thing they have -"Their People". Undoubtedly there are so many latent great ideas within organisations which if aired, given visibility, openly discussed and celebrated will help them come out of the current crisis stronger than when they entered it, and Rockwool's examples is a perfect role model of this.

3. Accelerating policy change 

In this new world, companies have had to change policies fast, like Ocado, who are helping keep everyone fed with their groceries in the UK. They have been brilliant in rapidly digitising new knowledge and getting into the hands and minds of their delivery teams. As soon as the outbreak started, Ocado's people were fully informed on new ways to interact with their customers and make them feel safe, as well as making sure their staff are safe and as new policies are created, they are then brought to life, shared, consumed and tracked for the impact the same day out to everyone's mobile device.

Undoubtedly, the old ways of spending 12 weeks building a course and rolling it electronically or face to face seem antiquated with the practical need that everyone must respond to now. It will be interesting to see whether the organisations who are moving to the ways that Ocado have been using for a while will ever fully go back to the old ways.

Interesting, chatting with a local Ocado driver, Steve Dineen asked them how else they use the Fuse Universal app, and the driver found the social engagement piece key or as she said "I used it to keep up with the gossip as well", which would have been a side benefit a month ago but is likely more important during the weeks and months ahead to be able to facilitate that emotional peer to peer connection digitally.

4. Surviving and thriving through rapid re-skilling

For Fuse Universal, It's also been interesting to see how other smart companies like Vodafone have been able to pivot so quickly because of their experience of their teams in digital learning and communication. Although Vodafone operates many different business lines, their retail stores are a key channel to connect to existing customers and onboard new ones, but with shops being forced to shut they pivoted quickly and in days, they were able to re-train their retail staff. The thousands of staff everyone is used to seeing in their stores are now supporting their customers via live chat taking on board the knowledge and understanding gained almost overnight. It's phenomenal to think both the content creation, learning experience design, consumption and change was all done within a week, and Vodafone's customers are receiving that benefit. 

Right now, there are many organisations figuring how to rapidly re-skill their people with their face to face delivery mechanisms removed and the standard 12-week course build times no longer relevant. As Darwin said - "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." 

5. Simplicity keeps people safe

It's no surprise that the most popular topic consumed by Fuse Universal's customers has been COVID-19. What is interesting is that there is a 300% difference in engagement depending on which tactic is employed to create, signpost and share this information.

It was clear from the data that those who put all the content related to the subject in a simple to access topic/playlist and signpost it clearly get significantly more people to read and watch rather than individual content pieces shared within social feeds or hidden away in an e-learning library somewhere.

In essence, simply created or curated content on this topic that is easily signposted such as the one below from Fuse customer, Medivet's new site are seeing significantly higher engagement and likely to lead to better behaviours.

An argument often made, is that simply watching videos or reading articles does not change behaviour but that is likely too vague a statement because context, as in the case of the Coronavirus, is a huge variable. Steve Dineen said, "What I can say is watching a video of how to wash your hands in the same way as doctors and nurses do, has led my family and me to change our behaviour and daily habits."

Undoubtedly everyone now has a powerful motivation to do so but a simple video illustrating the what and the how, was key to the change in clearly changing Steve Dineen's behaviour, as has been other behaviours that his family and his company team have adopted with simple access to signposted knowledge during the quarantine. The average of 300% more is a huge difference and especially on such an important topic.
So create or curate useful content about COVID-19, but make every effort to signpost it, place it with related content, and keep it bite-sized for quick consumption.

6. Learning from home and the need to accelerate to digital

Face to face training will always have relevance and even the most progressive of L&D departments such as Fuse customer, Hilti, use it for great impact, but right now that tool is temporarily not in anyone's arsenal but learning most go on. Over the last few weeks, L&D teams like Hilti's have gone into overdrive moving their face to face programs to digital, using a combination of virtual training software and Fuse and hitting around 60% monthly active engagement whilst their audience learns from home. 60% monthly active user engagement with a company with 30,000+ is truly impressive. Other learning leaders like Matt Donovan at GP Strategies have helped re-retrain their trainers within a week to become virtual facilitators, and Ocado moved their re-onboarding to digital within a week as well. Agility and learning from home are becoming the new L&D thing - led by these game-changers.

Also, Interestingly, because Hilti is a genuine leader in learning and development, they are able to showcase that capability as a recruitment tool to attract great talent who want to learn from Hilti's best, which their social media posts on LinkedIn exemplify.

What is evident is that although over the coming month's everyone will hopefully start to see the world return to one, everyone slowly starts to recognise. Industries like construction and manufacturing will re-open first, face to face events training, like trade shows, will return towards the end of the road back to normal and those that have been agile and pivoted their L&D like a startup will have offered their people a greater connection during the era of social distancing as well as giving their companies a competitive advantage out the other side.