Learning COVID-19 Recording: Mastercard's Sarah Gretczko & Commvault's Joe Ilvento 4-30-20

In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help Learning and Development leaders navigate this unpredictable time.

This week’s Learning and Development action call hosted two special guests: Sarah Gretczko, Senior Vice President, Chief Learning and Insights Officer at Mastercard, and Joe Ilvento, Chief Learning Officer and WW Director of Talent Development at Commvault. They were interviewed by Kevin Oakes, CEO and co-founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), and new survey data was presented on the issue of collaborative overload during this coronavirus pandemic period. Here are four key themes that emerged:

1.     Return to the workplace planning is here. Two weeks ago an i4cp survey found that 65% of organizations had a team or task force working on their “return to the workplace” strategy, and likely that number has only increased since then. At the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) we have been curating a lot of resources on this, and this week we launched a new Return to Work and the Workplace page at our Coronavirus Employer Resource Center. This page includes i4cp’s new and robust Return to the Workplace Checklist, as well as over a dozen links to best practice articles and corporate practice guides, toolkits, and playbooks.  

2.     Learning and Development will have an important role to play. While some organizations might rely on their corporate communications team to simply provide information to employees on what has changed in the workplace, many will rely on the function is best able to help educate employees and change behavior: the Learning and Development team. Trainers, instructional designers, and L&D leaders are dedicated to learning, training, and behavior change.

Both Ilvento from Commvault and Gretczko from Mastercard stressed that their L&D teams will be very involved in designing content for the return to the workplace process, using various modalities from short training modules, to frequent digital reminders, and more, to both educate employees on new recommendations and requirements for their workplace life and help cement real behavior change. Leveraging the existing L&D infrastructure (LMS platforms, content creation tools, learning models, etc.) also gives organizations a measure of legal coverage that strong compliance programs can provide.  

3.     The pros and cons of collaboration during the pandemic. The latest i4cp survey of several hundred HR leaders was on the topic of collaboration and collaborative overload during the pandemic period. The largest percentage of respondents (39%) said that their level of collaboration with colleagues was at this point about the same as prior to COVID-19 and any shift in work that has taken place. But 29% said that the amount of time they spend collaborating with others is much higher than before, and they are feeling overloaded as a result. One major cause of this is the number of meetings (almost all virtual today), as 44% indicated they are in five or more meetings a day, and 20% said they are in seven or more a day. On the other hand, 17% of respondents said they are collaborating more now but that they feel energized by it rather than overloaded, and 9% said they are currently underutilized and would welcome more collaboration time.

4.     Shift in L&D training approaches and topics. Both Gretczko and Ilvento shared how their organizations’ L&D functions have pivoted to best support the needs of their learners. As discussed on previous calls, there has been a clear increase in both virtual classroom (synchronous) training and self-paced eLearning (asynchronous) use. Gretczko described that a central focus of her team’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has been to provide curated digital learning experiences, with new topics of emphasis including stress management, working remotely, digital fluency more broadly. Leveraging the Degreed platform and in partnership with the business they are creating learning pathways in these and other areas, and see learning as a primary driver of employee experience and engagement.

Ilvento noted many L&D innovations at Commvault during this COVID-19 period, all aligned to their culture and values and with an emphasis on agility. Examples included leveraging text messaging as part of pre-boarding and for managers to drive engagement; modifying 60-90 minute training modules into smaller segments; using drop campaigns for some content reinforcement; and greater use of quickly assembled solutions as needed.

In addition to the recording above, please see the many resources at our i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center.