Stay Focused on Training During COVID Craziness: The E&C Pulse - August 19, 2020

August 19, 2020
Ben DiPietro

Aug. 19, 2020

Stay Focused on Training During COVID Craziness

One of the questions organizations are confronting during the COVID-19 is whether to continue with the training and learning schedule they had in place before the pandemic sent people from their offices to their homes.


It was a topic of discussion last week in a webinar put on by Ethisphere Institute that featured LRN’s Jennifer Farthing, Workday’s Christine Fedrow, and Micron’s Jeff Sulman.


There were concerns that delaying training would only cause it to bump up against future training, or learnings from other business units, and they were up against fears that people needed time to adjust to their new work environments, and shouldn’t have the added burden of training with which to contend.


As it turns out, companies that delayed training into the summer, thinking the pandemic would be under control by now, are finding the opposite, said Farthing.


At Workday, an enterprise software firm with 12,500 employees, was about to roll out its annual ethics and compliance training when stay-at-home orders were issued. When this happened, “there was a lot of ‘Oh, no, what do we do now?” said Fedrow, the company’s senior director of ethics and compliance. “Do we delay? Do we continue?”


Part of the annual training was to include a video of senior leaders, so questions needed to be resolved about whether to proceed with them, and if so, how. 


Ultimately, the decision was made to push ahead with training. Fedrow said the methodology of the training was changed a bit to adjust for the unusual circumstances, and an extra week was given to complete the training, so as to allow workers better flexibility. If someone needed even more time, they could ask for an extension. Just five of 12,500 employees needed an extension, said Fedrow. 


“Compared to 2019, the training was completed faster, and fewer remained incomplete after the final due date,” said Fedrow. “In the end, it turned out to be a good experience. For us, it was the right decision.”


At Micron, where many workers are on factory floors and don’t have their own office computers or their own personal devices, the challenge was how to effectively deliver training to people on shift-work schedules who may need to come out of a clean-room environment to find a shared terminal on which to take training.


“How do we reach these people?” asked Sulman, the chief ethics and compliance officer.


COVID-19 didn’t much change how Micron delivered its training--the cadence and the types of training remained the same--but it did raise other questions. “It made us think about these issues and transition and evolve how we deliver training based on people’s personal situations,” said Sulman. 


The result is offering training in small, digestible bites, such as short infographics or other learning opportunities that can be consumed in short bursts, allowing for a chance to get training done right before the start of a shift. “To take existing training seems to me really not to be the more effective way to reach these workers,” he said.


Seeing what the realities are--that people don’t have large chunks of time, people are being pulled in different directions--the goal is to figure out what your work teams need to know, and how fast they need to know it, said Farthing. 


“Expect improvisation, be nimble, try new things,” she said. “Let’s look at a graphic, but then talk about it. If you are in a Zoom meeting, spend five, 10 minutes on an E&C topic. If you’re going to convene [a Zoom] meeting anyway, can we sneak something in? Be clever to find opportunities.”


                                                                                                        BEN DIPIETRO





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About the Author

Ben DiPietro

Joined LRN in October 2018 after 30 years as a journalist, including seven years at The Wall Street Journal, including Risk & Compliance Journal and was a creator of the WSJ Crisis of the Week column. In 2015 was named one of the 100 most influential people in business ethics by Ethisphere Institute. Spent 14 years as a reporter in Hawaii, 11 with The Associated Press.

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