State of Training and Staff Development Before and After COVID-19

The results are in from the latest Relias training and staff development survey. If there ever was a year that proved the importance of being well trained and well prepared, this is it.

Every few years, Relias surveys industry leaders and staff development officers to identify changes in business needs, shifts in training budgets, and trends in staff development best practices.

In February, Hanover Research partnered with Relias to take the pulse of more than 5,000 leaders who oversee and deliver training as well as executives who drive organizational performance across the healthcare industry and public safety.

Because this year was different with the novel coronavirus spreading across the country and the world, we conducted a follow-up survey in June to determine how COVID-19 had changed business operations and training needs in those sectors.

Five Key Areas of Focus

The initial 2020 survey was designed to get a national perspective on five broad staff development and training issues in healthcare, human services, and public safety organizations:

  • The perceived business alignment, value, and impact of today’s staff development and training programs.
  • Principal training drivers and emerging influences.
  • Stakeholder perceptions about the strengths and weaknesses of existing training programs.
  • Current common practices in training management and delivery.
  • Current budgets and the economics of staff development and training.

The results are discussed in the Relias 2020 State of Training and Staff Development Report, which breaks down the findings by organizations with a public safety focus and those serving the following healthcare sectors: acute and pre-acute care, health and human services, payers and insurers, and post-acute care.

Because Relias conducted similar surveys in 2017 and 2015, we can identify trends and future areas of focus.

Growth of Online Learning

One key finding showed that the use of online training methods has increased substantially in both healthcare and public safety sectors.

Training Done Online

Sector 2020 2017
Healthcare 39.2% 27.3%
Public Safety 27.8% 14.6%

Percentage of respondents choosing rating of 6 or 7 for amount of training, with 7 being “all of it.”

With stay at home orders and social distancing becoming prevalent during the pandemic, those numbers increased even higher. In the COVID-19 follow-up survey, respondents choosing a 6 or 7 rating bumped up to 42.5% in healthcare and 37% in public safety. During the pandemic, 60.4% of healthcare organizations said they conducted the bulk of their training online, and 52.7% of public safety organizations held most of their training online.

Methods of Tracking Training

Along with the convenience afforded by online learning, organizations seem to be recognizing the ability to better track their training completions with online systems.

In healthcare, 47% used a learning management system for tracking training early in 2020, compared with 39.7% in 2017. The COVID-19 follow-up survey showed that tendency increasing even more, with 24% saying they had started using an LMS to track training since the pandemic hit.

In public safety, an LMS was used to track training by 44% early in 2020, up from 33.3% in 2017. Amid COVID-19, 21% started using an LMS to track their training.

Showing Return on Investment

Tracking course completions is a step in the right direction if you want to show results from your training investment, but more is needed.

Many respondents were not confident that they had effective systems in place to evaluate how well their training is implemented. Only 41% in healthcare and in public safety indicated that they had positive or well-developed methods to determine how well training was put in practice on the job.

Planning and Then Pivoting

When providing care to patients and clients in healthcare sectors and working to ensure public safety, competence and confidence are key to being effective in your job. The coronavirus pandemic put those areas to the test in unforeseeable ways.

In our follow-up COVID-19 survey, most healthcare respondents rated their organization’s preparation positively in terms of delivering online training (84%), management and leadership (76%), readiness to deliver relevant training material and content (73%), staff readiness (71%), and ability to deliver virtual training (69%).

Public safety respondents said their organizations were best prepared to deliver online training (77%) but least prepared to deliver virtual live training (55%) amid the pandemic.

Looking at areas of increased need for training during COVID-19, healthcare organizations placed a priority on infection control, pandemic planning, employee wellness and self-care, and telehealth. Public safety organizations were prioritizing employee wellness and self-care, pandemic planning and response, and infection control.

Taking a Deeper Dive

These are just a few snapshots of the data analyzed in the Relias 2020 State of Training and Staff Development Report. The report includes findings broken out by acute and pre-acute care, post-acute care, health and human services organizations providing behavioral health and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, payers and insurers, and public safety.

The survey results are intended to help you consider areas of potential improvement in your own staff education programs. If you would like to explore more insights from the survey, watch the  presentation by Natasha Fisher, Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Relias, as she shares three need-to-know trends identified by analyzing the data. The discussion will examine:

  • The visibility of training results throughout your organization.
  • The use of individualized learning plans.
  • How COVID-19 has affected training budgets.
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Natasha Fisher

Director of Strategic Marketing, Relias

Natasha has more than 15 years of experience working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, serving in a variety of roles including direct care, service coordination, quality assurance and administration. She has worked in a self-advocate committee start-up and also has direct experience with CARF and CQL accreditation processes. Natasha currently serves as a board member for ANCOR Foundation.

Terrey L. Hatcher

Content Marketing Manager, Relias

Terrey Hatcher is a Content Marketing Manager at Relias. She has worked in professional development and curriculum design organizations for more than 20 years. At Relias, she has collaborated with physicians, nurses, curriculum designers, writers, and other staff members to shape healthcare content designed to improve clinical practice, staff expertise, and patient outcomes. Besides her current focus on healthcare solutions, Terrey’s experience includes sharing best practices in education, IT, and international business.

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