Today’s rapidly evolving workplace requires employees to constantly upgrade their skills. They must be equipped to find knowledge quickly, be proficient with technology and be able to interact and collaborate using a variety of communication tools.
Forward-thinking training initiatives can help employees be successful in a rapidly evolving environment. Yet many companies continue to use old-school training methods that have failed to keep pace with major trends affecting the workplace.
A survey by Boston Consulting Group found that companies spend tens of billions of dollars globally each year to train employees, but the money often is wasted because “the training is not geared to drive business results.” It also discovered that business leadership training and talent development often overlook frontline leaders, who create value for customers and that the training employees do receive often doesn't have a meaningful impact on business results.
According to "The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance," a 2013 report by Harvard Business Review Analytical Services, having a highly engaged workforce “not only maximizes a company’s investment in human capital and improves productivity, but it can also significantly reduce costs, such as turnover, that directly impact the bottom line."
Yet only about 32 percent of employees in the U.S. are engaged, involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace, according to recent surveys by Gallup. That means more than two-thirds of employees are not engaged.
Meanwhile, Millennials and Gen Xers are a growing majority of the workforce. Millennials last year surpassed Gen X as the largest cohort of the U.S. labor force.
These trends are driving many companies to take a hard look at costly, ineffective and time-consuming traditional training - the kind involving daylong workshops and “death by Powerpoint” presentations. Today’s employees want opportunities for on-demand, on-the-job training and feedback.
Progressive companies are opting for a more immersive, interactive and ongoing training approach that typically involves technology. Toward this purpose, many are utilizing microlearning - delivering training content in a bite-sized, on-demand format.
Microlearning can include anything from simple methods, such as directing employees to research topics online and reporting what they discover, to customized digital libraries that offer leaders and employees on-demand access to a constantly evolving set of topics.
Companies that utilize microlearning effectively focus on providing rich content in a variety of formats so learners can focus on the right knowledge and skills in multiple ways. Here are some tips for building more agile, effective and efficient training.
Offer flexible options.
Learners are no longer tied to their laptop or PC. They use Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and other social media networks to get information. Give them specific skill-building content they can use in a moment of need via social media or other online tools.
Provide both short and long learning opportunities.
These can range from a 30-second video available on their phones, focusing on a specific job challenge, to in-depth e-learning courses and one-on-one coaching.
Make it practical and interactive.
Effective training shows employees the connection between what they are being asked to do and why. It should connect them with the specific skills and information they need to do their jobs, and give them opportunities to learn, practice and get feedback.
Make it social, and fun.
Including a social element that involves community sharing and learning, and perhaps gaming elements, will intrigue learners to return frequently.
The new reality of training is the 70-20-10 model, in which learners get 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others and 10 percent from formal educational events.
I expect interactive, on-demand, on-the-job learning solutions will remain critical to helping companies remain agile and adapt to rapidly changing business environments, though the form of these solutions will undoubtedly continue to evolve. Be open to experimenting with new modalities to ensure learners get what they need.