How can L&D respond to times of crisis?

We are all in the middle of a situation that we don’t fully understand, and it’s really hard. Any sense of what is “normal” just completely changed for many of us. For some, this means uncertainty about the future, and for those of us fortunate enough to still be working – we now realize and understand that we need to find a new path forward. The learning and development role just fundamentally changed for many companies. We are all adjusting to working at home, working around our families, teaching our children, while also concerned that our families and friends stay safe and healthy. Many of us in the L&D world now face an entirely new reality and need to figure out how we can help our employees during uncertain times. 

What can we do to help

We need to remember that every person is likely still adjusting to changes in work and the new reality of life in general. Each person will have a unique response to these stressors. So what can we as L&D professionals do to help our employees and their families? 

Our role during these times is to help ensure employees are safe, healthy, and know they have the support of the company. Many employees will find their workload significantly increased, while others may need to transition into a temporary new role or take on different responsibilities that are new to them. Things will change for many of us, and our job is to try to anticipate the needs of employees as we and our companies adapt to this new (hopefully short-lived) normal. 

At OpenSesame, we want to ensure our employees feel the support they need to be successful and productive through these trying times. Here are some of the ways we’ve addressed this within our own (and new) work environment:

Physical health and safety:

    • Released an elearning course package educating our employees about COVID-19 and general best practices for staying healthy.
    • Implemented a mandatory work from home policy to ensure employee safety.
    • Redistributed budget to employees to purchase items if needed to work more comfortably at home, such as a desk or more supportive chair.

Mental Health:

    • Educated employees frequently about about available mental health and support resources through health insurance and local organizations. 
    • Released elearning courses about maintaining and discussing mental health at work 
    • More frequent and personal check-ins with employees. Sometimes a “How are you doing?”, or “How is your family doing?” makes a world of difference.
    • Created virtual socializing opportunities: morning meditation, daily stretches, virtual lunchroom, coffee breaks and happy hours using platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Human beings crave connection, some of your employees live alone and may be particularly needing this more than others or even you do  personally.


    • Reimbursement for home office setup. We don’t all have an office at home, and we need to make sure our employees have what they need to be productive.
    • Flexible hours. Now, more than ever, our employees need to know that they can be there for their family and friends when needed.
    • Elearning courses and resources on best remote work practices.
    • More frequent checkins in the form of 1:1s, daily standups, or other ways to over communicate to stay productive.

Roles/responsibility changes

    • Thinking ahead to anticipate training that will be needed for employees to take on new roles or responsibilities.
    • Provide opportunities for employees to let their skills shine. Provide the information your employees need to identify where their unique talents can help the company. 

We’re all in this together. If L&D can help us understand where the shifting needs of our employees might land, we can be ready to help support them at the right time. Outside of work, we’re all dealing with much more stress than normal. Now is not the time to overload our employees with training lacking intent. If we can try to anticipate the training and resources our employees need, then we can have it ready for them when they need it. Where L&D can shine now, is by being a source of support, care, and love for our employees. 

As the world grapples with the impact of coronavirus, we believe elearning can provide a critical and efficient path to rapidly educate employees about preventing the spread of coronavirus, how to work and manage remotely and the importance of social distancing. Our team has curated a list of courses about coronavirus preparedness and remote working for training your employees. These courses are made available free of charge through 15 June 2020. Please use them to help your employees reduce their exposure and spread of the virus. Immediate education and containment are key to saving lives.