Get training right by embracing new learning platforms, or risk throwing money down the drain
Businesses invest thousands of pounds on training every year, but the question remains: are employees ever really engaged or does it go in one ear and out the other? Employee engagement is considered one of the major challenges in delivering training in today’s workplace; evidently there is work to be done.
The Department for Business is keen to address the issue and commissioned businessman and author David MacLeod together with Nita Clarke to take an in-depth look at employee engagement. The MacLeod report: Engaging for Success: enhancing performance through employee engagement, highlighted the potential benefits to organisations and employees. My thoughts on MacLeod’s insightful report are as follows.
Firstly, it’s essential that employees apply their learning to their individual roles. But if the training is poor quality, too theoretical, monotonous or long, it may be overlooked completely – meaning you could be throwing money down the drain. With the nation undergoing unprecedented challenges, it is crucial that businesses invest wisely. If staff are engaged, they will perform better and feel a sense of self-satisfaction, which leads to healthier financial prospects.
So where are businesses going wrong? Why are training managers still finding employee engagement a challenge? Some argue that standards of education are slipping and that the workforce’s general learning ability is diminishing. Or is it how the subject matter is being delivered? Many businesses are not taking advantage of alternative learning platforms which can deliver more effective training.
With Facebook users reaching 900 million, clearly the public has an insatiable appetite for collaborating and sharing with like-minded people.
Despite social media typically being used for leisure, many businesses are missing out as they can also provide a fresh approach to training. Employees who use social media to communicate with family and friends now expect to communicate with their colleagues in the same way. When it comes to learning, businesses should take the same approach.
This is especially true when considering a 2010 American Society for Training and Development study, which found that today’s tech-savvy workers recognise the value of using social media for learning and development. More than 80 per cent expect to see social tools adopted by their organisation’s learning group within the next three years.
But before integrating social media networking principles into training systems, businesses must know their workforce inside-out. This means capitalising on topics that already interest them and tailoring each programme accordingly. The one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work when it comes to training, as learners have individual needs, skill-bases and learning styles.
Once training has been developed it needs to be transformed from a solitary event to a community-orientated experience. Employees should then be encouraged to share socially by commenting, rating and making recommendations for fellow learners. Therefore, tools need to be both easy to use and powerful with clear learning objectives as well as being unified, friendly, intuitive and highly visual.
It’s also important that the training can be accessed anywhere, as many aspects of life are becoming increasingly mobile. Successful businesses need to empower employees, allowing them to fit learning around busy lifestyles.
For businesses that engage their employees, the benefits are clear: improved staff morale, polishing of existing skills and higher performance levels. However, the important lesson for businesses is that they should always put their workforce first, by continuing to keep them engaged through innovative learning platforms.