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While at-work training and educational programs have always been important, they’re becoming even more important than ever as we move deeper into 2020. Especially given the economic unsureness that today’s employees are facing amid the coronavirus pandemic, entrepreneurs have to change their approaches to professional knowledge acquisition in order to keep teams engaged.
Spearheading this trend, of course, are millennials. Unlike previous generations, they don’t just want a paycheck and hefty benefits. One recent Gallup poll concluded that “Millennials are not pursuing job satisfaction – they are pursuing development.” Among many other things, this means they want to feel like they’re moving onward and upwards in their careers and, most importantly, learning new things.
A study by Deloitte backs this up, finding that 55% of millennials would leave a job within two years, and 71% within five years, if an employer doesn’t support their professional development.
Another factor pushing the evolution of on-the-job training is the skills gap. Research by PWC found that this is one of the top three threats to CEOs today, holding them back in a number of ways:
- 55% of CEOs say the lack of key skills availability is preventing them from innovating effectively
- 47% say it’s impacting quality standards
- 44% were unable to pursue a market opportunity because of it
Savvier CEOs vastly prefer to upskill and retrain existing staff than to hire new talent to close the skills gap, since the costs and effort are significantly lower. In a recent conversation with Hite Digital founder JC Hite, I asked him why he prefers to fill positions internally rather than hire external candidates, “our positions are often filled internally because we chose to invest in constant training for our staff; many of our hires are promoted within a year or less. When we hire internal we already know the person is a good fit for our company culture, and they have the right attitude that will enable be a good long-term fit. Hiring externally is often a much bigger gamble.”
Finally, corporate culture plays an increasingly important role in the workplace today. A Glassdoor survey discovered that 77% of employees consider a company’s culture before applying for a job, and 56% say company culture is more important than salary.
The only way to promote a positive company culture, align employees with your business vision, and communicate the impact of their work is through effective educational programs. Enterprises need a new approach to professional knowledge acquisition to keep up with the new demands, close the skills gap, and enhance employee engagement in general.
- Learning in the flow of work
One of the big new trends for professional training programs is to dramatically shift the style and format of learning from frontal, classroom-style teaching to learning in the flow of work. This is when training is integrated into your employees’ regular work tasks so that they acquire skills actively instead of listening to someone describe how to do it. People learn faster through active learning than from a lecture or demonstration, and they can apply it immediately to help improve memory retrieval.
Learning in the flow of work requires new types of programs that are accessible on-demand and provide personalized, interactive training. In one recent blog post about training remote workers to identify dangerous phishing emails, InfoSec Institute’s Daniel Brecht writes that “continuous, hands-on employee education can be engaging, more effective than any theoretical approach and give measurable feedback to the company that can see which attacks remote workers are most susceptible to.”
That’s why the most effective phishing email simulation solutions dispatch messages that appear naturally and unexpectedly in employees’ inboxes, along with their regular emails. These programs test and train employees in real-world situations, improving their ability to recognize potential dangers. Training is constantly reinforced with new simulations, advancing each employee’s abilities at their own pace.
- Interactive multimedia learning
Social and collaborative learning supports passive learners and enables employees to draw on collective wisdom. New tech offers interactive tools to encourage communal learning, enticing employees to share their ideas and opinions in order to further everyone’s knowledge.
A case study by ClickMeeting explored the impact of introducing better forums for interactive, communal learning sessions. International gaming company G2A used ClickMeeting for online management meetings that encouraged idea-sharing and opinions. Stakeholders on G2A’s side were thrilled to find that “The busy departments that rarely had time to attend a traditional business meeting suddenly became available and willing to share opinions and ideas online,” as the videoconferencing platform’s Jakub Zielinski puts it.
These interactive learning sessions helped G2A to connect employees so that they can share their projects, documents, and content, and ask for advice or input from their colleagues. As a result, the company’s leadership was able to align disparate departments and to streamline corporate culture, ensuring everyone is on the same page, and helping everybody to share their thoughts.
- Soft skills learning
In 2020, business departments are more fluid and teams cross department lines far more often than they used too. Employees need to draw on a wider range of skills. It’s more important than ever to train all your employees to know how to create readable reports, for example, or analyze a data table.
Transmitting and training employees in a range of soft skills demands tools that are more flexible and versatile than straightforward training vehicles of yesterday. Companies also rely on employees to help improve their brand reputation across social media, so it’s necessary to guide them in skills like social media management, content curation, and thought leadership positioning.
Millennial employees who want to develop their personal brands look to their employers for support and training in areas like time management, asset management, public speaking, and more, all of which benefit the company as well as the individual employee.
Evolving to meet the needs of today’s enterprise
New professional education trends like learning in the flow of work, educating employees in soft skills, and interactive multimedia learning are on the rise. These new approaches help corporations to meet millennial demands for ongoing professional and personal development, help CEOs bridge the skills gap, and help all businesses to improve corporate culture and maintain their competitive edge in 2020.