HKIHRM HR Pulse Check: Learning and Development Practices Amid COVID-19
By the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management
  • The pulse check zeroes in on the digitisation of staff training in the new normal.

  • It looks at how organisations have reshaped employee learning under disruptions from COVID-19.


Conducted in January 2021, the HR Pulse Check on Learning and Development Practices Amid COVID-19 surveyed 120 Institute members and other HR professionals, whose completed questionnaires were featured in the analyses.

Employee training – ownership

When asked if they were responsible for employee training at their company, more than half of the interviewees said they were fully responsible while 30% said they were partly responsible.

Digital learning

Over 70% of the respondents stated they had deployed digital learning tools for employee training over the previous three years. Less than 30% said they hadn’t used such tools.

Among those that had deployed digital learning tools, the major challenges posed by the usage of digital tools to deliver employee training at their company were less interaction between trainer and staff (65%), distractions (50%), and a lack of networking interaction for participants (49%).

Training pre-COVID

Before the onset of COVID-19, the top three modes of training in most of the surveyed organisations were all physical – face to face, instructor led training (90%), on-the-job training (83%), and in-person coaching / mentoring (55%).

Training under COVID-19

Almost 60% of most interviewees said that the delivery of employee training at their company had been somewhat disrupted thanks to COVID-19. Almost 20% admitted that the level of disruptions had been significant.

Since the eruption of COVID-19, the top three modes of training in most of the surveyed organisations were on-the-job training (58%), virtual, instructor led training (58%), and hybrid learning (online & offline sessions) (55%) respectively.

In the midst of the public health situation, some of the surveyed organisations had provided a vast array of digital learning formats. Topping the list were webinars / virtual classroom delivered by instructor (81%), self-paced learning through digital portal / e-learning library (58%), and mobile enabled learning (36%).

Physical training – resumption

For the majority of the respondents, 50% said face-to-face, instructor led classroom training could be resumed at their company in 2021 Q3 or even later while 23% admitted it was hard to say.


Looking ahead, most of the respondents expected virtual, instructor led training (55%), on the job training (46%), and self-paced learning through digital portal / e-learning library (45%) to be the most popular training delivery methods deployed at their organisation in 2021. For the majority of the interviewees, they foresaw the top three focuses of their company’s employee training this year as change management (28%), communication / interpersonal skills (25%), and technology adoption / implementation (23%).

In the new normal, virtual learning will continue to be widely used across the sectors to provide employees with a safe environment to flourish in. Change management will dominate as a training area to arm staff with the viability necessary for handling the challenges brought by COVID-19.

Sharing L&D best practices with HR professionals

Barry Ip and Chester Tsang, Cochairpersons of the HKIHRM Learning and Development Committee, Annie Leung from Hong Kong Broadband Network, and Carmen Lo from UL shared the results of this HR Pulse Check and best practices in virtual learning and solutions through a webinar on 22 February. The session aimed to bolster our members’ skillsets and strategically formulate their learning plans under the new normal.