The business world has changed fundamentally in the past decade due to the increase in mobile device usage. The internet is nowadays a commodity as essential as electricity – living without it pretty much feels like going back in time.
Information is just a swipe of the screen away, whether it is the forecast for the Azores in May or the name of that big-nosed French actor who played Alexandre Dumas. Seriously, if you google ‘big nosed French actor’ you’ll find several pictures and a biography.
Companies have to keep up with the accelerated technological advance as well as with the shift in employee behaviour.
Knowing your employees
Millennials now make up for the majority of the corporate workforce and they are very different from the generations who preceded them. Raised on technology and with a strong sense of personal worth, they no longer target a forty-year static career ending in a toast-giving reception and a golden watch. Their personal life, time and space is of the utmost importance to them and if they find that the workload is too heavy or too boring they won’t hesitate to look for other employment options. Sooner, rather than later.
According to a PwC whitepaper on Best practices for retaining new employees, one in three people leave their company within the first year and seven out of ten say that training and development opportunities influence their decision to stay.
Studies show that if you offer them a say in the way, the place, and the hours they work, they will stay and deliver. This is what HR directors should mainly care about, as the cost of losing an employee in the first year can add up to three times the person’s salary.
Engaging people by empowering them is the path to take if companies want to achieve higher retention rates and lower labour turnover.
Traditional training: empowerment or frustration?
Even if the overwhelming majority of the above mentioned HR directors believe training and development to be an essential business enabler, they aren’t doing enough to increase and improve employee training opportunities. This mainly happens because traditional corporate training is equally time and resource costly.
Taking people out of the work environment for a day or two of classroom training often proves to be both challenging and utterly ineffective. In a world where information is gained instantly at the time when it is needed it seems terribly obsolete to go over tens of slides with textbook material, watch awkward short films of an obviously intended but dubious didactic value and have to laugh at the occasional stale joke.
Of course there are the coffee breaks, lunch breaks, opportunities to meet and talk to people from different departments within the organisation; those, however, are not the real objectives of a training session.
Then there are the ice-breakers: having to talk about oneself, role-plays, games, case studies, team exercises and giving of (usually at least three) examples from personal or professional experience. Most people dread at least one of those but they all have to be integrated so as to touch upon every possible learning style in the room.
The result is that instead of giving your employees a sense of empowerment and self-growth, these experiences most often leave them frustrated that they had to attend something that they don’t even consider valuable or useful.
Empowering employees with mobile learning
Mobile learning shifts the focus from the content to the learner, allowing for a personal, flexible, non-invasive learning experience. This has particular appeal to millennials, who want to be able to use the same technology at work as they do in their personal lives.
Accessible from virtually anywhere and at any given time, mobile learning makes it easy for employees to learn what they want, when they need it. It is a lot more manageable to navigate mobile modules than long powerpoint presentations or written notes, so if one requires one particular piece of information or statistic, it’s only a rapid search away.
Speed and efficiency are paramount to those who deeply value their time so dividing units into bite-size modules also works wonderfully for them and on a portable device.
This up-to-date approach to learning lets people have a say in how they want to develop or improve skills – some may choose to read the academic literature, some the case studies and some may skip to the animated synopsis. Individualized learning technology solves the issues found in traditional training design because participants can be taught about new information in a way that allows them to maximize their full potential. Regardless if the learning style is visual, auditory or hands-on, different people engaging in the same program will have completely divergent but equally fulfilling and, yes, empowering, experiences.
Presenting training content in a way that perfectly suits particular learning styles by taking into account cognitive, behavioural and engagement preferences leads to facile and pleasant acquiring of information. And since mobile learning provides a widely social and collaborative platform there’s also an opportunity for experience sharing and making professional connections.
The key to happy, loyal employees is empowerment and the key to that is equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge while at the same time allowing them to access it when, where and how they see fit.
Ultimately, they will efficiently work for you as long as it works for them.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.