Fostering the success of a robust learning and development (L&D) program is crucial for any organization. Through the empowerment of workers equipped with specific skills and specialized training, companies can drive business performance and increase productivity. The absence of a successful L&D program can be the difference between a high-performing employee and a struggling one.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted workplace dynamics over the last three months, companies have been forced to redesign and retool their development programs to align with this new work-from-home model. We asked Francine Miller, the Training Content Manager at Paychex, Inc. with more than 30 years of recruiting and L&D experience, to share her thoughts in our latest webinar. Francine chatted with our host, Kristen Lampert, and discussed the many ways that companies can engage and elevate their employees, even in this new virtual setting.

If you missed the webinar, don’t worry – we’ve got your back! We compiled the highlights below with four key takeaways that will help organizations to improve the effectiveness of their training methods and processes:

1. Lead with empathy

For companies who work hand-in-hand with small businesses, these last few months have been incredibly difficult. The small business struggles in America have been well-documented, as many have encountered serious trouble in generating sales, paying their employees, and simply staying afloat. Front-line workers have been forced to adjust their conversations with these customers. It is important for companies to properly instruct and train their employees on the importance of being attentive listeners and showing compassion with a client in crisis. By honing in on emotional intelligence and empathy training, employees can better connect with struggling small businesses and others impacted by COVID-19.

2. Cater training to the modern learner

As advancements in technology have contributed to shorter attention spans in younger generations, companies need to adapt training to align with the needs of the modern learner. Long meetings and extended lectures of over an hour in length have proven to be unproductive, especially in a virtual setting. In order to boost attendance and participation in workplace training, companies must cut down on their content. Rather than inundating employees with material, create a goal of allowing people to leave each meeting with one or two important takeaways that they can learn from. This will ultimately lead to increased engagement and more effective outcomes for all.

3. No commute time? More learning time!

As millions of Americans are now working from home, the absence of morning and afternoon commutes has opened up precious time in the workday. Companies should take advantage of this opportunity to invest in their workers by promoting professional growth and development. Some organizations have even thought to incentivize employee participation in these facilitated training sessions. By substituting a 30-minute drive to the office with an educational webinar or instructional video, our workforce could take strides to enhance their skills and become more well-rounded.

4. Believe in virtual learning

If you’re one who is hesitant to invest in virtual learning, you’re not alone. There are dozens of companies that aren’t yet ready to jump in and test the virtual waters – don’t be one of them! By investing in virtual L&D programs, be confident that feedback will be positive from your workers. Train your employees with a mindset of involvement. Be fun and creative to foster a sense of community within your company. Experiment with different virtual events to keep employees engaged. This alone will make a huge difference in maintaining a sense of corporate culture, even without a physical workplace to do so.

If you’d like to watch the full “Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Front-Line Training During COVID-19” webinar, you can access it here.

To learn more about how to more effectively train your workforce in a virtual environment, visit the TalentRise Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you have further questions from the webinar, don’t hesitate to reach out to Kristen Lampert, the webinar’s host, on LinkedIn. You can connect with the webinar’s featured guest, Francine Miller, on LinkedIn.