Today’s business environment is as diverse, challenging, fast-paced, and exciting as ever. Across continents and time zones companies manage to do incredible things on a daily basis. But no matter their size, the industry they are active in, nor the scope of their existence, every business faces the same challenges:
- attract the best talent
- retain it
- continuously develop it
Technology can be of great assistance when surmounting these challenges:
Personal laptops and widespread internet connections mean that many people can work from basically anywhere in the world, which comes in pretty handy during a global pandemic. Besides, this offers companies access to a wider pool of candidates whenever they need to fill a new position. Skills and competencies, rather than geography and physical distance, are finally the number one aspect on the recruitment agenda.
Then, the various communication and collaboration tools, as well as many more industry-specific software and online tools, support employees in their performance at work. What’s more, the same personal computers and widespread internet contribute to a degree of flexibility so sought-after in the struggle of managing the work-life balance. All this makes people stay longer with the same employer.
Finally, learning technologies allow companies to create continuously more personalized learning experiences for each employee, no matter how seasoned they are, how long their job tenure is, or on which hierarchical step they are in the company. Continuous professional development is paramount for company success.
Providing a flexible working environment
Today’s employees are very much aware that the knowledge and passion they bring to work every day makes them more than a cog in a business machine. They know they are important in the success of their team and they have their own expectations from their employers. One of these expectations is a flexible working environment.
The world around us is in constant change and so is the work environment. The cubicle has become a thing of the past and the 9-to-5 schedule is going there as well. The modern employee requires more and more flexibility, both in how they perform their work and where they do so. Up to 70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half the week, according to a recent study by the International Workplace Group.
The reasons behind these figures vary:
- young parents returning from maternity or paternity leave need more flexibility once they get back to the professional world;
- so do those who have to care for an older family member;
- people who just need long stretches of uninterrupted time to focus on a big task are happy to escape the constant interruptions of the office space and work from home once in a while;
- employees who simply live and work in a different country than that of their company’s headquarters because it makes business sense for them to be active in a different time zone, just go without saying.
However, at the end of the (business) day is it doesn’t really matter why employees work remotely because they are more engaged in their work and therefore are more productive.
A flexible working environment — and the technology that supports it — is known to attract talent (especially younger people) and it also contributes to lower employee turnover rates. This addresses the first two challenges every business has to overcome. What about the third one?
Turning to online training
A strong training program needs to reflect the reality of today’s workplace, so ignoring the online is not an option. Online learning technologies may not replace face-to-face training anytime soon but they can boost L&D results if implemented right.
Here are a few tips on how to implement online training so that all employees, regardless of where they work, benefit from it.
Design training courses that are relevant
A training needs assessment is the first step in identifying what relevant training actually means. After conducting it, it’s always a good idea to check things constantly with employees. For example, maybe it’s best to also include a module of all the online tools needed to perform a job in the onboarding program instead of letting new employees discover them one by one.
Read more: The need for a Training Needs Analysis
Also, never make all training courses mandatory, as some employees may not actually need to take all of them. The most important thing to remember is that trainees will always be more willing to enroll — and also finish — an online training course if they understand its benefits.
Set the stage for asynchronous learning
The entire point of providing training online is so the attendees are no longer caged by the rigid setting of classroom training. By contrast, when an employee is able to decide when they learn, how much they learn, or what course or module they’ll take, they’ll be more invested in each training activity and learn better. After all, they only need to be in-sync with themselves, not with anyone else.
Encourage collaboration instead of competition
A little bit of competition can move a team a little bit forward; but moving forward constantly is done by people who work together, not against each other. It may be a challenge to ensure collaboration can happen easily within an international or remote team — both generally and specifically during training — but chat tools and various other software can go a long way.
Use video whenever possible
Creating videos nowadays is very easy. Whether we’re talking about delivering feedback to employees regarding their training or actually delivering training, opting for a video format is always a good idea. Videos can be superior in terms of retention rates to long blocks of text.
Another thing that should be kept in mind is that learning at work also happens informally and video calls (instead of basic voice calls) can spice things up a bit between employees and help them communicate better, especially if we’re talking about an international team.
Make the most of an LMS
A Learning Management System can be a complete solution to designing and delivering online training and reach all employees, across departments, work experience, tenure, location, and so on. Instructors can do all the things mentioned above — and so much more.
An LMS usually comes with a comprehensive set of features, especially designed to support online training, and it can also integrate with almost any third-party tool that may be needed for the good functioning of a business organization, supporting employees in improving their overall work performance.
Companies big and small need to invest and implement an effective training plan using technology to facilitate continuous learning and development for each of their employees, working on the premises or remotely. Providing a flexible working environment and implementing online training are two very efficient ways to meet the needs of today’s employees and set them up on the way to professional success.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and MATRIX. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.