Make employee training more interesting, less formal, and more relevant to employees’ work and careers.
Offering employee training doesn’t automatically mean it will be successful. There are many reasons why training efforts might fail, including:
- Employees aren’t told why it’s relevant to them
- It isn’t engaging
- It’s too time-consuming
- It’s restricted to a classroom, and
- It isn’t reinforced with post-training follow-up.
Luckily, there are many ways to make training more interesting, less formal, and relevant to your employees’ work and careers. Here are some tips you can use to get more out of your company’s training efforts and better empower your employees to build skills that will benefit them and the business.
Turn employee training into professional development opportunities
According to 2018 research from Randstad, a limited career path is the second most common reason employees leave a job. Instead of simply offering employee training as a way to build and maintain company culture or keep compliant, find ways of also turning it into career and ongoing professional development opportunities for your employees.
Eighty-five percent of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. With today’s employees now facing the prospect of careers spanning 60-70 years, they expect employers to help them reinvent themselves. Turning employee training into professional and career development opportunities demonstrates that you are committed to investing in your employees, and that’s a great way to keep them engaged in the workplace; 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
Focus on skills of the future
The half-life of a learned skill is now only five years. If you really want to engage your employees through training, focus on giving them skills that will help them keep up in our fast-evolving, increasingly digital world.
The 2017 Job Skills Training and Career Development Survey from the American Psychological Association found that “As talk of automation, artificial intelligence and skills retraining dominate conversations about the future of jobs, 43 percent of employed Americans say they are concerned about the changing nature of work.” Indeed, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, up to 375 million workers will need to switch occupational categories due to automation by 2030.
Make learning more impactful by focusing on the future of work as it relates to your business, a specific team’s line of work, or your employees’ particular roles; according to PwC, 74 percent of people are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in order to remain employable in the future.
Make employee training collaborative
Learning doesn’t need to be a solo venture for your employees. Eighty percent of all corporate learning takes place through on-the-job interactions.
If you offer your employees self-led learning opportunities, it may be wise to test collaborative training options as well, leveraging things like online discussion groups, social media-inspired activity feeds and video tools to foster virtual training collaboration across your organization. Gauge their receptiveness to different kinds of collaborative learning opportunities with surveys, allowing you to determine what works best for your team.
Check out this video on how you can use an activity feed to improve employee engagement.
Encourage better supervisor support
Supervisor support is a major factor in whether employees feel they’re learning and developing within their career. The American Psychological Association’s 2017 Job Skills Survey also found that 63 percent of working Americans strongly agree that supervisor support encourages career development. Without this supervisor support, only 48 percent of employees are motivated to do their best, versus 88 percent of employees who do experience that support.
Instead of thinking of training as a one-time learning opportunity, look to everyday experiences with team leads as a way to making learning continuous. Regular feedback is key for millennial workers, for example, millennial’s crave coaching and want feedback 50 percent more often than other employees. If needed, consider leadership training for members of your management team to ensure they’re able to provide the development support your employees are looking for.
Create a culture of modern learning
Don’t just offer learning as a side benefit of being an employee at your company. Instead, build it into your culture and make it a core part of your corporate DNA. A survey from B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm Clutch found that 32 percent of employees value learning opportunities in the workplace.
To make this possible, focus on providing employees with training whenever possible, on demand, rather than doing just one or two big training sessions annually. There are many ways to do that:
- Empowering employees to facilitate their own peer-to-peer training sessions
- Lunch and learns where employees watch a presentation or training and lunch is provided
- Mentoring programs that allow employees to learn from more experienced peers, and
- Leveraging a modern learning platform to offer employees bite-sized learning opportunities at the point of need.
Providing role-specific training is also an effective means of engaging your employees. Here are a few data-driven tips to make this specific employee learning successful for a few key roles within your organization.
Focus on generating traffic and leads with your marketing team
Marketers wear a lot of hats, from content strategist to analytics expert. When developing learning opportunities for your marketing team, focus on their top challenge. According to Hubspot’s 2018 State of Inbound report, that is: generating traffic and leads.
This can be an opportunity to bring sales and marketing together for training that focus on the psychology of selling and attracting potential customers. Don’t forget to offer technical training on new features within tools they’re using—this allows them to more with what you already have.
Focus on prospecting follow up with your sales team
Prospecting is one of the most important skills your sales team can have, yet, according to the same 2018 Hubspot report, 40 percent of sales professionals say that getting a response from prospects is their biggest challenge. With that in mind, offering effective sales enablement is important. With a training focus on prospect follow up, you’re not only making your employees more confident in their jobs, but you have an opportunity to truly impact the bottom line. As your sales team gets better at this critical aspect of their job, you earn more customers, and the business grows.
Use a blended learning method for developers
Developers are a critical part of your company and they need to keep up with the latest advances in technology to make sure the website is running properly, that your digital assets are secure, and so much more. However, according to the 2018 Developer Learning Survey from Developer Academy, this team has very specific learning preferences.
Their top preferences for learning include reading, instructor-led training, and video. Training with a blend of these three modes, offline and online, can be effective in keeping them engaged and making learning more successful, particularly when facilitating more ready access to peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring opportunities, as well as online technical or video libraries.
Make learning successful
Use these data-driven tips to drive change within your company’s learning and training efforts. Your employees will get more out of it, becoming better at what they do and therefore improving the business overall.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is a small business owner. She’s been featured in Forbes and Business Insider and has written for Virgin, Salesforce and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jthiefels and connect on LinkedIn.