Employee EngagementLearning & DevelopmentLearning & Development

Proactive Skills Development

By shifting from a content-centric focus to a learner-centric model for L&D, organizations can ease the skills gap and address talent shortages.

By Maggie Mancini

As organizations grapple with the impacts of continued talent shortages and the shrinking lifespan of skills, HR leaders are renewing their focus on learning and development programs with the hope of cultivating an agile, future-ready workforce. This comes as a recent report from TalentLMS and Vyond finds that 66% of employees believe they need to develop new skills to be successful in their current position.

Christina Gialleli, director of people operations at Epignosis, the parent company behind TalentLMS, says that employers should prioritize proactive skills development to retain top talent and meet business needs throughout 2024. This approach is crucial because there is a clear link between learning and success. The steeper the learning curve, she says, the sharper the curve of success. 

“Employers should shift their workplace learning to a more holistic approach that focuses on the employee as a whole,” says Gialleli. “Given that 68% of employees think non-work-related training will be important in 2024, it’s essential for employers to broaden the scope of learning and development to include aspects like mental health, mindfulness, financial wellness, and career management.” 

Gialleli adds that this kind of change requires moving from a content-centric focus to a learner-centric model. By doing so, companies can cater to their employees’ diverse needs and preferences, enabling them to choose and engage in learning experiences that are not just job-related but also contribute to their overall personal development. As a result, this strategy often leads to better learning outcomes, more effective work, and healthier work-life balance.

The study reveals that workplace training significantly boosts employee retention. In fact, without such training opportunities, 41% of employees will look for another job in 2024. Additionally, eight in 10 employees emphasize the need for more enriched and extensive training programs in 2024. Considering this, Gialleli recommends that organizations fast-track skills development, promote continuous training, and avoid the reactive approach of offering training only when a skills gap becomes evident.

66% of employees believe they need to develop new skills to be successful in their current position.

Similarly, 68% of employees would like to have access to more data about their training to measure and analyze their progress, according to the study. By taking a data-driven, results-oriented approach to training, business leaders can boost employee motivation and enrich their learning experience. 

“There’s a great opportunity for businesses to enhance internal hiring, which is currently overlooked, as only 10% of jobs are filled this way,” Gialleli says. “The key lies in leveraging learning and development programs to bridge internal skills gaps. Our research indicates that 77% of employees agree it’ll be important for their companies to offer training that will help them transition into new roles.” 

To take advantage of this untapped potential, Gialleli says leaders can start by thoroughly evaluating the skills of current employees to identify areas where they need improvement. Based on these insights, they can develop training programs focused on both—introducing new skills and enhancing old ones. This approach will give employees all they need to thrive and climb the ladder, making it a win-win for both them and the company. 

“Training is often pushed to the background as something important but not urgent, especially when work and learning are treated as separate activities,” Gialleli says. “To change this, it’s effective to integrate training into everyday work projects. This way, employees will remember and use new skills in their regular tracks.” 

Research from TalentLMS indicates that employees are interested in receiving more learning opportunities, but they don’t want these to be lengthy or dull. When designing training, companies should make sure to align with employees’ workflow, individual preferences, and learning styles. Incorporating interactive activities, hands-on sessions, and real-life scenarios will keep employees engaged in their learning journey. 

“In this era where emerging technology, especially AI, is at the forefront, the impact on industries, domains, and job roles is huge,” Gialleli says. “This digital transformation has created a pressing need for new skill sets, as 43% of HR managers think their company will face a skills gap due to the rise of AI. In response, organizations are turning to learning and development programs.” 

The survey reveals some of the key elements of highly engaging training experiences. 

  1. Shortening training sessions can help make learning opportunities more user-friendly and captivating for employees.
  2. Incorporating visual elements, like short-form videos, can keep employees more engaged with learning materials and help encourage long-term conceptual knowledge. 
  3. Providing flexibility in choosing training topics and timing training courses can provide more autonomy for workers. 
  4. Using storytelling and humor in learning sessions can imbue training with a human touch, keeping employees engaged and helping them remember key concepts. 

This pivot towards training aligns with the rising enthusiasm among employees to keep up with AI advancements. In fact, training in 2023 has already made 71% of workers feel ready for the ongoing technological shifts. Plus, there’s a strong interest specifically in AI training, with 67% of employees eager to learn how to use AI tools.

With widely available AI tools spreading like wildfire, upskilling and reskilling initiatives will carry a lot of weight in 2024. 

Tags: January February 2024

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