The pandemic has changed the way many people view their jobs and career progression. Previously, salary and wages were a priority, but the landscape has shifted focus to flexible working and upskilling opportunities. There are many ways businesses can get ahead of the game with what they’re offering employees in this modern landscape.
Learning and development programs for example, are not only an attractive benefit for new hires, but also very impactful for employee retention. If a career path is clearly visible, employees are far more likely to stay with a company.
Surveying employees is one thing, but it’s quite another to ask them directly how the organisation can better support its workforce
Making new and pre-existing employees alike feel valued and optimistic through L&D opportunities is being progressively prioritised by business leaders. So how can companies better use L&D, with hiring and employee retention in mind?
Evaluate your needs
A thorough evaluation of both the employees’ and the organisation’s needs is necessary before any kind of learning program is developed. Both weaknesses and strengths of the staff must be considered, as well as the skills they currently lack and those that would improve productivity.
Surveying employees is one thing, but it’s quite another to ask them directly how the organisation can better support its workforce. Asking the right questions not only displays a level of consideration for team members but will also help to pinpoint exactly what training is needed and where.
L&D programs shouldn’t revolve solely around the company’s needs, however. Employers that provide opportunities for personal development - even if the skills don’t directly relate to job performance - will display a belief that personal growth is on par with the importance of productivity within the company; an outlook that will be paid back in loyalty.
Customise your training
More focused and accessible L&D opportunities are becoming increasingly sought after; gradually replacing the expensive, often multiday, training events of days gone by. From short videos and online training to regular mentoring sessions, there are multiple options that will suit everyone.
It’s the freedom of choice found in personalised training that holds a large portion of the appeal. Working with employees to identify a format that matches their learning style will allow for tailor-made training that applies to the individual’s role, as well as their professional development.
Not everyone likes to appear on camera for Zoom or Google Teams meetings, for example. Therefore, it’s great to be able to provide them with personalised training that can help them to overcome their worries and feel more comfortable in their position.
It takes around 50 to 60 repetitions to truly learn a new skill
Re-evaluate your company culture
As well as providing further clarity of what’s truly important to an organisation, the pandemic has also left employees with an updated outlook of how work fits into their lives. Through the various lockdowns, the great majority of us took a hard look at what gives us purpose and how we would like to spend our time. This has ultimately led to a global shift in what the average employee expects from their employer.
Organisations are able to represent their culture through the L&D programs they offer. Aside from signalling how highly they value the growth of their employees, companies can use their programs to create a welcoming environment for existing and new staff alike. This will, in turn, aid in the identification of new hires, as employees will be far more likely to recommend working at their company if they’re granted a strong sense of belonging.
Don’t forget managerial training
A great deal of L&D programs focus on transitioning employees to management positions, but it’s important to remember that higher-ranking workers still have more to learn.
In fact, further training for managers is critical due to its impact on employee retention. Following the pandemic, management has changed a great deal, and there are plenty out there who never received training on leading remote or hybrid teams.
New challenges have arisen in terms of effective communication and performance management, for example. Where simply asking, in person, for an update or a quick job to be done was once taken for granted, the current necessity to send requests via email or direct message may result in anything from tone to guidance being lost in translation.
The same can be said for any difficult conversations that may need to be had. With this in mind, managers must put a great emphasis on trust and employee welfare. Proactive training can help managers navigate the nuances of the online landscape and improve overall efficiency.
Focus on learning, not just training
It’s very important to note that new skills and behaviours take time to learn. By putting a focus on voluntary learning over training, an employee's outlook is more likely to shift from completing a mandatory course to a genuine interest in understanding what’s being taught.
This is much easier to achieve when training is catered to the individual, following a discussion of how they would like to develop their skills.
Putting what's been learned into practice is an essential element to completing any course of training. It takes around 50 to 60 repetitions to truly learn a new skill, after all, and if an employee has little interest in what they’re learning, this may be a fruitless expectation.
Employers can learn a lot about how the lessons were perceived and what can be improved by simply observing employees after a training session, but whilst useful, this information isn’t enough to guarantee that the training actually worked.
Successful training will result in the acquisition and application of new skills and the adoption of new behaviours. This can take time, but when achieved, the improvements should be observable and measurable.
Measure real results
With any investment, business leaders will be keen to see results. The same applies to whichever employee development programs they choose to implement.
How this is measured is entirely dependent on the type of training and the stated goal. The metrics of team performance - conversion rates or sales growth, for example - can be linked directly to functional training. Customer feedback and peer reviews, on the other hand, can allow soft-skill training to shine through.
There’s no doubt that some organisations hold the misconception that L&D as expensive and time-consuming
There’s no doubt that some organisations hold the misconception that L&D as expensive and time-consuming. However, thanks to online learning, employee training is now more affordable and accessible than ever.
With the future of the workplace becoming harder and harder to predict for many workers - particularly those from younger generations - providing obvious paths to advancement and growth will be sincerely appreciated by many.
The clear way to highlight such paths is to personalise them based on the needs of the individual. Training for the challenges of today and tomorrow should be available to an employee, at their time of need. Following this, they can practice their new skills in a safe environment; giving them the confidence to continuously try new things and grow as a dedicated member of the team.
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