Janet Man, senior director of talent and diversity at McDonald’s Corporation

We are living in the digital space and are always “on-the-go”. In the past decade, mobile application technology, social media, digital platforms and channels have significantly transformed our lifestyle. Nowadays, one person on average owns at least two digital devices. We use our mobile/digital device for almost everything because it delivers what we need instantaneously at our fingertips. It enables us to socialise and shop, search for information and directions, source and play music and entertainment or do our personal banking in seconds. It entirely reshapes how we live our life and connect with one another. Thus, it is time for us, HR and training professionals to acknowledge, relate and embrace our work with the digital happenings. Are we offering a relevant learning and development solution that suits fast-paced business trends as well as meeting the needs of our employees? We can also leverage technology to deliver learning and development in the same direct, fast and cost-effective manner. Recognising people’s lifestyle changes, we launched a “webinar series” in 2012 to offer a different form of training to our employees. Through the use of a virtual interactive platform, we provide a learning experience that simulates face-to-face settings. We redesigned our training curriculum to engage participants in real-time discussions with other colleagues using features such as poll questions, whiteboards, videos and group chat rooms. Offering virtual learning does not mean the traditional approach of in-person learning will become obsolete or can be replaced. In fact, the effectiveness of an employee’s learning is actually enhanced through adding the digital component to it. Instead of a one-off training session, we are now able to create a “learning journey” for our employees. Prior to participants meeting on-site at the training centre, we engage them in learning via a virtual introductory session. They start to know the group, receive some theoretical knowledge as well as pre-work. We optimise the use of on-site face-time for them to interact with one another, ask clarifying questions and practise applications. After the on-site sessions, we are also able to follow up on participants’ learning and applications through regrouping them in the virtual platform. We reinforce the key concepts while they reflect on their learning, share with each other’s successes and challenges of their own applications. Employees are more and more welcome to virtual learning as it can be provided more frequently than traditional classes. We are able to address learning topics that are timely for their needs. Because we record our webinar sessions, employees can take their learning any time anywhere and conveniently through their digital devices. They can always go back and replay or refer other colleagues to listen to the recording. The ownership and accountability of learning has now shifted to the hands of the employees.

We all live a busy life and hope to optimise our time to be as efficient and productive as we can be. It is only natural that employees prefer learning options which are convenient and can be easily completed through a digital device. Virtual collaborations, sharing, presentations and discussions can be easily organised, recorded and archived. Digital learnings can be accessible via online/offline recordings. It is available around the clock and across geographical borders. It is scalable and reaches out to a much broader audience offering learning to a bigger population (compared with face-to-face) at one time. Virtual learning is the answer to the new learning preference and work-life style that most people have nowadays.