Hackernoon logoValuable Employee Training Programs To Get Back on Track in 2021 by@gabriellesadeh

Valuable Employee Training Programs To Get Back on Track in 2021

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@gabriellesadehGabrielle Sadeh

Digital Marketing Consultant | Passionate Writer | Cat Enthusiast

When there’s a lack of clarity about the future, often the business initiatives that drive value over longer periods of time can seem less important. Many business leaders fell into this trap over the course of 2020, de-emphasizing things like tech infrastructure overhauls, brand awareness-focused marketing efforts and yes, employee training.

As flawed as they might have been, these priority shifts make sense. Unless it was a short-term must-do — like ensuring people were getting paid, keeping team members somewhat productive on a remote basis during lockdowns, or securing immediate revenue for the business — tasks fell by the wayside in an effort to cope with an ever-shifting business landscape. 

Many managers found it effectively impossible to feel any sort of confidence about what might happen in the following months, as governments applied a varied response to a global pandemic and consumer behavior altered erratically. 

It isn’t 2020 anymore 

So 2021, what’s changed? While there is an end in sight with vaccines, there are still challenges. For one, remote work has proven itself as worth keeping in the playbook, and two, most companies have accepted that they can’t continue thinking about short-term effects only. 

As McKinsey’s Mark Staples noted in his 2021 report of how COVID-19 would impact businesses, now “the priority is to re-energize organizations—to act rather than react. Even as the uncertainties of the COVID-19 crisis multiply, the goal must be to rebuild for the longer term.”

Today, businesses need to find a way to reintroduce long-term projects in a way that makes sense, or they will suffer. While it’s easy to continue focusing on short-term gains, this kind of business myopia can stagnate your growth and increase your vulnerability to more sudden disruption, falling behind competitors who invested in their future earlier. 

What does this mean for employee training in 2021? While it’s at least somewhat possible to go back to old methods and systems, that might not be entirely possible given how long offices are likely to remain closed. And besides, this regrouping time is a great opportunity for businesses to look towards the future and implement new strategies. Here are four ways to do so.

Refocus On Value Over Style

Are your pre-pandemic training programs focused on appealing to tactical, visual, and text-based learners alike? Turns out, it’s a myth that everyone has a different learning style that must be met to unlock new skills. 

University of Wisconsin Psychology Professor Tesia Marshik explained in her TEDx Talk that “if you believe in learning styles, you’re actually wrong” because“ those preferences don’t actually enhance your learning when we test them in experimental conditions”. 

Instead of offering individuals diverse learning options, it makes much more sense to focus on the information that’s being learned, and present that information in the way that makes the most sense. In the case of learning new skills, the key is simply to make it interactive. Without interactivity, you risk losing people’s attention.

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This is good news; it’s also a more effective way for companies to offer the learning materials they offer. It’s not necessary to provide written, visual and lecture-based content for employee training. Instead, focus on building a repertoire of employee training in an interactive, engaging style.

Employees will experience greater skill retention and will probably enjoy the training more, too.

Prioritize the skills that drive benefits

No matter what industry businesses operate in, it’s necessary to recognize that soft skills underpin all technical skills. 

The results of LinkedIn’s 2020 survey of the most in-demand skills showed that "leadership & management" was the most in-demand skill, with 57% of respondents identifying it as a priority. Next was creative thinking and problem solving, followed by communication.

By focusing the training on skills that both the business and the employees will find valuable, employees gain higher job satisfaction and are more likely to remain with the company long-term. 

“More skills invariably improve both the quality and quantity of employees’ work,” notes WalkMe in their guide to employee training. “Yet training also increases employee engagement levels and reduces turnover.” 

Reconsider Your Own Motivations

If you’re going to invest in offering employee training, it makes sense to ensure it’s worthwhile. Don’t treat it as a box to tick – instead, try to view it as a value-driving endeavour that empowers executives and their employees alike to boost job performance.

Pamay Bassey, Kraft and Heinz’s Chief Learning Officer, recommends a top-down approach. “First, seek out high impact learning experiences,” she says, “Second, commit to a learning practice. And, the third, encourage others to do the same. If managers and leaders commit to those three things every day, then they can transform a learning culture.”

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Take a moment and reflect on what will actually motivate employees to complete the training.  This is also a great way to help your employees understand their development is your priority because you’re putting more emphasis on results rather than just completion. 

Embrace Remote Learning

Of course, the difficulty with employee training in 2021 is that for many businesses, it will be remote by necessity. With remote learning, it’s harder to get people to pay attention – what’s to stop employees from cooking, doing laundry, and watching TV while they have a training seminar on a screen?

Apty’s Revanth Periyasamy identifies maintaining engagement and distractions at home as two of the top five remote work challenges, along with social isolation, lack of information, and not enough face-to-face contact. These challenges especially hold true in the case of employee training.

To avoid those pitfalls, it’s paramount that businesses demonstrate how committed they are to employee training. Part of this is tracking performance to ensure employees understand the benefit for themselves and the business, as mentioned in step three, but it’s also recommended to incentivize participation, with rewards for employees who successfully complete training.

Employee Training as a New-Old Priority 

In 2021, there’s both a need and an opportunity for employee training. The need is to regroup and reprioritize it for your company. The opportunity is to take advantage of new approaches that make it less of a box to tick and more of an asset for both your employees and your company.

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