Hello English Podium E01: Implementing L&D initiatives during a pandemic

Hello English Podium hosted Mamta Saikia from Bharti Foundation, Sridevi Parthasarathy from Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited, Tanu Srivastava from AirAsia and Anjalli Ravi Kumar from Unilever to discuss the future readiness of L&D initiatives. Attended by 200+ HR Leaders, CXOs, CHROs, L&D Managers across industries, the virtual panel discussion focussed on understanding how leading organizations are implementing L&D initiatives during this pandemic.


As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to escalate and businesses are working hard to keep moving forward where possible, the L&D profession is under increasing pressure to build a resilient, virtual learning ecosystem at speed.

Today we are facing a global pandemic of colossal magnitude. There is much uncertainty surrounding this crisis, but what we do know is that we need to adapt and change and do so with agility. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt daily life across the globe, businesses across industries are struggling to keep up.

Read the blog to know how organisations are coping up with these changing dynamics, managing employee motivation, and engagement, and how the L&D function’s importance has become evident more than ever.

Empathize with employees and connect with them regularly

“We’re an essential service and our employees are required to be present at our branches to ensure that these services reach our customers”, says Sridevi. A major challenge faced by organisations providing essential services is to keep their employees safe and motivated to go out to work everyday. It’s important for organisations to recognise these employees by making them feel safer about coming to work and set reasonable expectations from them.

Unilever has a large portfolio of essentials and due to growing demand for products such as soaps and sanitizers, it has put pressure on the workforce to continue to manufacture at plants, distribute products across stores in the country. Anjalli shares how connecting regularly with employees has helped them keep their workforce motivated and not affect their productivity in these uncertain times. From organising weekly town halls by the senior leadership at Unilever to AirAsia’s available on video policy – organisations have managed to increase internal communication through regular virtual connects for meetings and fun activities.


Leverage digital tools to scale training across teams, locations

“Never let a good crisis go to waste”, a quote by Winston Churchill inspired AirAsia to record a whopping 2.5 lakh hours of training in just one month since lockdown. Tanu shared how AirAsia managed to execute their annual learning plans by leveraging digital tools and engaging their workforce effectively.

“Even with no one to monitor the students, digital initiatives at Bharti Foundation’s schools have seen tremendous traction among the students”, says Mamta. She further shares that engagement of students enrolled in the Hello English program has gone up to 37,000 hours from 14,000 hours and activities from 2 lakhs to 5 lakhs units.

While these organisations have managed to leverage digital tools for learning many attendees raised questions on how to introduce digital learning and what platforms to choose. Well, while choosing an online learning tool make sure that the tool is personalised, scalable, fun, engaging, and provides measurable results.


Set reasonable performance expectations and encourage creative solutions

As organisations are shifting from offline to online learning they often raise concerns over employee participation in these initiatives. Anjalli and Tanu suggested promoting these trainings through newsletters, webinars from senior leaders, and setting KPIs to ensure maximum participation.

Teachers at the Bharti Foundation came up with an easy yet effective solution to make online groups to communicate with the students and make sure that their learning is on track. While organisations are trying to ensure that their workforce is productive at home, they also need to encourage their employees to come up with creative solutions for their problems.

That was all from the first episode from Hello English. We want to applaud these women leaders for their efforts to ensure business continuity in such unprecedented times. We hope that their candid insights and experience would have inspired you and nudged you to think out of the box. Catch the recording of the episode here –


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