The competitive advantage that companies have coming out of [the COVID-19 crisis] is going to depend on their talent.

Cat Ward in “To Defend Budgets in a Downturn, L&D Must Focus on the Future”

Published may. 19, 2020

JFFLabs Managing Director Cat Ward recently spoke to HR Dive about the importance of investing resources in corporate talent development and training programs even though many companies are being forced to make budget cuts during the economic downturn driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quoted extensively throughout the May 19 article, Ward argued that it is important for employers to focus on the future and maintain learning and development (L&D) operations so they can stay competitive as the economy begins to recover.

“The competitive advantage that companies have coming out of this is going to depend on their talent,” Ward told HR Dive. “We’re moving into a pretty fluid environment here.”

The key is to think about preparing employees for the future of work—and embracing the future of training—instead of returning to business as usual. By forcing many companies to pivot to remote working arrangements, the COVID-19 crisis has hastened the digital transformation of American business. That means corporate training departments must migrate to digital learning platforms and offer employees more distance learning opportunities, especially in cases where on-site operations remain suspended because of ongoing public health concerns.

“It’s a business advantage that your entire workforce is able to keep their skill sets fresh and stay competitive,” Ward argued.

She also noted that technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality will make remote learning platforms more effective, and she said new training in soft skills will be especially important as people adjust to web-based communication.

“If you want your business to be competitive,” she said, “you need to be preparing your workforce for these changes.”