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A learning evolution

Learning under changed conditions - New approaches must also be found for knowledge exchange and employee training

The coronavirus pandemic is transforming global trade, the economy, and even how we work. Employees are leaving the office to work from home and personal communication has gone digital. This calls for new approaches, including for exchanging knowledge and training employees. Niko Zdravkovic, Department Head DACHSER Academy, explains how content is being communicated in this exceptional time and how employees can stay on top of their jobs.

Mr. Zdravkovic, thinking back to the beginning of last year when the first signs of the coronavirus crisis emerged, what were the challenges facing in-house training at DACHSER?

Protecting our employees has always been our top priority, so we had to cancel almost all in-person training events. This also meant that our trainers who work abroad as essential knowledge multipliers were no longer able to fully carry out their duties. Our entire training culture was turned upside down practically overnight Learning from and with colleagues on the job and the personal exchange of knowledge between branches always were and will be key parts of DACHSER life. The outbreak of the pandemic and the many restrictions that came with it suddenly made this all but impossible. Then we had the task of reconciling the rules, which varied tremendously from region to region, with our own measures and regulations. And because our food logistics business makes us a provider of essential services, it was and remains absolutely crucial that we train our employees working in this division on the specific hygiene regulations. All this had to be arranged immediately.

How did you and your team at the DACHSER Academy respond?

Luckily, we have many years of experience in digital learning. For instance, we have a small “digital learning solution” team as well as our own leaning management system that is available worldwide. But prior to the pandemic, the majority of training was done either in person or using blended learning formats. When the restrictions came in, we had to find a good way of developing digital formats and we helped our trainers adapt their materials accordingly. The Achilles heel of any digital learning opportunity is the technology. As it was clear that people would be learning not only in offices and classrooms, but also within their own four walls, we had to modify the technical infrastructure considerably. We also had to alter the way knowledge was transferred and develop a variety of solutions, for instance to promote interaction among participants with a view to enhancing their attention span for digital learning formats. All in all, we developed 34 DACHSER-specific training programs and rolled these out in our core languages.

Generally speaking, how has learning evolved in response to the changes wrought by the coronavirus pandemic?

Learning has become inherently more digital and as a result, people must take a much larger role in shaping the learning process. There has also been a major shift in where and when people learn. Trainers are required to rediscover digital learning methods and tools and use them effectively.

But there is a positive side to the changes that have resulted from the pandemic. The many necessary adjustments have meant that employees have learned something new, and that the learning process took place on many levels—sometimes even unconsciously. Everybody learned how to successfully tailor the transfer of knowledge to their own requirements. Training is a deeply individual process in which the value of social interaction—now missing—has generally been overlooked. Again and again, we hear how many colleagues are missing the personal components of knowledge transfer.

At DACHSER too, the future of knowledge transfer lies in a hybrid approach that combines in-person and digital learning formats. It will be interesting to see exactly what this portfolio of learning opportunities will look like.

Thank you for speaking with us.

Interview with: Niko Zdravkovic

Niko Zdravkovic is Department Head DACHSER Academy 

Contact Natalia Olawella