Employees across sales & business development, product development, marketing, HR, customer servicing, etc. are acquainting themselves with new technology and digital methods to complete tasks, collaborating amongst themselves, and staying closely connected with customers.

The current situation across the world facing the COVID-19 pandemic is a watershed moment in the annals of world history. In pre-COVID-19 times our normal day would start with an early morning breakfast, getting dressed for work, commuting to the office, collaborative work with colleagues, followed by meetings and before we know it, our 10-6 routine was complete. However, today, work-from-home and social distancing have become the new normal. The widespread concern combined with increased economic and financial stress has disrupted our lives and has caused businesses to alter operations and processes to remain functional through this phase of social distancing.

For most companies, their business continuity plans have now mandated employees to work remotely and adapt to the digital way of working. This has caused a wave of unnerving stress amongst the workforce due to uncertainty about how job functions may change and evolve along with way. This is especially true in the life insurance industry. Traditional in its approach, the sector depends heavily on the ‘street on feet’ method to reach its customers, which has been heavily altered in today’s times.

Employees across sales & business development, product development, marketing, HR, customer servicing, etc. are acquainting themselves with new technology and digital methods to complete tasks, collaborating amongst themselves, and staying closely connected with customers. From specialized online sales processes to Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls, and from WhatsApp connects to increased email interactions, the digitization of processes has meant employees have to be further agile and street smart to evolve with the situations.

However, at times there is a sense of anxiety amongst them caused by unfamiliar processes. As HR leaders, it is imperative to invoke trust and create a safe digital work environment for employees to operate within by creating an ecosystem that will ensure employees operate with efficiency and confidence. This can be achieved by empowering supervisors, encouraging a caring culture, implementing focused online learning and development strategies, strategically mapped out for different units. Here’s how HR heads can increase functionality and productivity of employees across some of the verticals by training them to lead with agility and quickly adapt to digital tools and techniques:

Sales, business development & customer servicing

As a domain, sales and business development have always relied heavily on extensive human interaction. With traditional methods of selling being disrupted, employees are left feeling not only disengaged but also eminently fearful of job losses. To thrive in a competitive and new working environment that requires contactless selling and business development, business and HR leaders can craft extensive training modules on digital selling techniques. While this can be different for each sector, the commonalities must focus on enabling sales representatives and customer care agents to adopt digital tools to connect with customers and smoothen their purchasing journey.

From integrated training and development modules to strengthening the workforce with cutting-edge software and hardware tools, companies must equip their frontline warriors with all the physical and mental arsenal to increase their efficiency in this new normal world of digitized interactions. Mentoring employees and sales agents on a war-footing and encouraging them to adopt new techniques and reaching out to their assigned leaders in case of confusion or inability to adopt will help a long way in instilling confidence into this workforce to serve the customer with agility.

Marketing & Communication

While the focus of marketing and communication professionals has moved towards spreading awareness and being compassionate in their communication strategy, the need for skilling still exists. Employees must keep up with new customer behaviour and attitude while searching for innovative ways to connect with them. This requires extensive knowledge about various platforms, its benefits, and its features. By mandating employees to attend webinars and virtual events relevant to their field or setting up online sessions with analytics experts within the organization to share insights on data extraction and analysis, HR heads can promote an ecosystem of cross-collaboration. Also by bringing industry experts onto the organisational platforms to interact with employees helps broaden the learning and development horizon of the employees and help them communicate better.

Financial management

Effective finance management during COVID-19 is essential. With finance teams working remotely, there is a greater need for process for better financial management and reporting to minimize risks. Through online learning guidelines and training modules, employees can ensure protocols are standardized while familiarizing themselves with digital billing, contracting, and signing to maximize efficiency.

To create a resilient workforce amid the ongoing crisis, it is essential to evolve with the changing dynamics of the work ecosystem. As employees work remotely, it is integral for businesses to offer support and enhance their current skillset to deliver better digital experiences. With this, learning & development should continue to remain a key priority for HR and business heads. While it enables employees to equip themselves with new techniques, it will also ensure they become an ever-ready workforce. Not only will this keep the business running as usual, but also boost productivity, increase engagement, and collaboration between teams.

While businesses are aligning themselves to enhance business outcomes, these outcomes are taking significantly more time than ever to fructify. Hence, in this challenging environment, it is imperative for HR leaders to institutionalize digital techniques through learning and development to create an on-dot workforce, which is aligned to organizational goals and gives in the best to achieve business success. It is important that we remind ourselves that this transition is also a culture change in many ways and its sustenance hinges on large scale awareness and adoption

This article originally appeared at http://bwpeople.businessworld.in/article/Learning-and-Development-In-The-New-Digital-World/22-06-2020-289876/