Effective Employee Training Must Support Personal Growth

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As job functions continue to evolve, employees have come to expect more from the training programs designed to advance their skills. While these programs provide employees with the knowledge necessary to fulfill their roles, employees also crave engaging lessons that empower them to grow and develop along their personal career path. By establishing programs that sustain individual improvement, leaders demonstrate their investment in both the business and their employees, for they understand that each staff member supports the company's overall mission and bottom line. But what should these programs look like moving into 2016?
Employee Engagement Strategies

As job functions continue to evolve, employees have come to expect more from the training programs designed to advance their skills. While these programs provide employees with the knowledge necessary to fulfill their roles, employees also crave engaging lessons that empower them to grow and develop along their personal career path. By establishing programs that sustain individual improvement, leaders demonstrate their investment in both the business and their employees, for they understand that each staff member supports the company's overall mission and bottom line. But what should these programs look like moving into 2016?Here, we speak with Luis Ramirez, director of marketing for digital media at InterCall, to examine what employees seek from their training experience and how companies can meet or exceed these expectations in the coming year:

1to1 Media: Why does training play an important role in so many employees' decision to stay with their current company? Why are their expectations so high?

Luis Ramirez: Employees want to increase their opportunities for success by improving their skills and knowledge, and for their employer to share their goals for professional development. Training is one way a company can show it's invested in an employee's continued growth in and outside of the organization. When training is effective, it not only benefits the company, but also can help employees advance toward their long-term career goals, improve their job satisfaction, and increase productivity.

The vast majority of organizations today offer some type of training, so employees expect their company to also invest in them. This is especially true for younger employees who value continued learning opportunities more than their older counterparts. Millennials are new to the workforce and are eager to learn more skills and move up the corporate ladder. Training is seen as one way to do this.

1to1: Why do so many employees feel their company's current training programs aren't a productive use of their time?

LR: Too many companies make the mistake of creating a general, "one size fits all" training program that isn't relevant to every employee's specific job, role, or career path. Offering training just for the sake of offering training is a waste of everyone's time. In addition to being relevant, training needs to be engaging or the information presented will not stick. Although offering interactive and customized training requires greater investment, its impact will be much greater. Today's online tools make it easier and more affordable for companies to create individual and interactive learning paths.

1to1: What elements do employees seek from these training programs? How can companies make their programs more interactive and engaging?

LR: Employees want training that is customized to their job function or career path. In addition, employees often prefer the freedom and flexibility to consume training on their own schedule and at their own pace. The majority of employees also want their training to be more interactive and engaging. Multimedia tools like video, quizzes, gamification, and Q&A sessions encourage engagement with the content and promote retention of information. With virtual classrooms, rapid authoring, and other online tools, learning professionals can update and create content quickly. Virtual learning environments simplify the development and distribution of customized learning paths that can include a variety of learning modalities specific to an employee's role or individual goals.

1to1: How do employee training programs impact engagement and long-term retention? What challenges will companies have to face moving forward?

LR: One of the main goals of employee training is often professional development. When employees believe the training is in line with their career paths, they'll perceive value that's in addition to, and can even exceed, financial compensation. Relevant training initiatives can demonstrate to employees that they're valued and that the company is invested in their future. This can ultimately increase employee engagement and productivity.

It can be challenging for companies, particularly large ones, to determine whether training content is engaging and achieving the desired effects. Subjective input to this question can be obtained by continually seeking feedback from employees after each training session. For qualitative metrics, look to online tools like virtual learning environments that track a learner's activity during the event, such as how much of the course was completed and when, content consumption patterns, interactions like Q&A and chats, and test results. This information can be integrated into a formal feedback loop to continually improve training programs.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION