Certain training programs may apply to everyone in a company, like HR procedures or emergency drills. However, just as the job duties of the marketer differ from that of an operations manager, your training and development initiatives should reflect the needs of each specific role as well.
Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report shows that 85 percent of employees are not engaged in their job. Irrelevant, one-size-fits-all learning programs lend to this lack of engagement and are a surefire way to bore employees and waste everyone’s time and resources.
When done correctly, learning can work to your advantage. According to a Udemy report, 42 percent of employees believe that feeling empowered to learn new skills would make them more engaged in their work. What’s more, customized learning programs can help to retain talent. Millennials would stay in their current position if there were career training and development opportunities.
Use the following strategies to create learning programs that are accessible to all employees and valuable for all teams.
Collaborate on program development
If you already have training programs in place, gather feedback from employees on current efforts. Send an anonymous poll or survey so everyone is comfortable offering honest and candid feedback. To get the most from your feedback, ask specific questions on what is working and what isn’t.
Use this as an opportunity to figure out what employees want to learn about, or where they feel they need to improve on in their job. It’s likely that when responses from employees on the same will align with similar goals and needs.
Another benefit to surveying employees is reminding them that their opinion matters. At the end of the day, the training is for them, so what they need is of utmost importance to the value of the materials.
Implement department-specific training
According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 50 percent of talent developers agree that role-specific skills are a top priority for learning and development programs. Armed with data and feedback from your staff, work with your department heads and managers to customize learning and development programs for each department.
Break up learning for large teams into smaller, or more niche sections, allowing you to focus on job-specific training that will offer immediate results in their current positions.
Provide blended learning opportunities
No matter the job, each individual employee retains knowledge differently. Some people learn better from in-class, hands-on training, while others prefer watching digital content or videos. Create a blended learning environment that combines different formats to appeal to different learning preferences.
In Blended Learning ROI, talent acquisition expert, Lisa Burke, explains why the process works: “Blending online instruction with in-person interaction results in a more dynamic learning experience and helps employees retain the information much faster. A classroom session with in-person discussion and activities serves to solidify information in the learner’s mind since employees will be taking an active and interactive role in the instructional process.”
Use the offline portion of your learning for collaborating, knowledge-sharing and mentoring. This is a valuable opportunity to bring in local experts who can elaborate on specific topics, providing real-world context to what employees have just learned.
Incorporate coaching and mentoring
Enlisting managers and senior employees as coaches or mentors can significantly improve your learning programs. First and foremost, this type of support can encourage overall involvement from employees. The LinkedIn Workplace report found that 56 percent of employees would take a manager suggested course.
Coaches can also help individualize the process, ensuring that each employee has someone to champion them along the way. According to the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Job Skills Survey, 63 percent of workers agree that supervisor support encourages career development. Luckily, you have the talent in-house already, you just need to pair employees together for a formal coaching or mentoring program.
Encourage post-training feedback and check-ins
Always get post-training feedback from employees to understand their experience and identify where there’s room for growth. Beyond feedback on the training itself, ask mentors and coaches to check in with staff about their successes or challenges with integrating the new skills into their workflow. Certain pieces of training might seem valuable in theory but not in practice. Keeping track of the progress of each team will help you hone and optimize your learning programs.
Customize your learning programs to optimize your talent
As the Gallup Workplace report states: “The new workforce is looking for things like purpose, opportunities to develop, ongoing conversations, a coach rather than a boss, and a manager who leverages their strengths.” Individualized, dynamic learning programs provide just that. Customized training will allow staff to best use their skills and grow in their career. Once you develop the right programs, and figure out what works best for your employees, you’ll start seeing greater ROI from training, which benefits everyone.
Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and small business owner. She’s been writing about business, management and HR for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes and FastCompany. She also writes for Business Insider, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.