Employees are demanding more immersive and frequent training, forcing organizations to transform their L&D programs.
By Doug Stephen
As the labor market tightens and the skills gap for highly technical roles widens, companies need to find new ways to secure the capabilities they are lacking—without having to completely re-staff. Data shows that the solution is to ensure learning and development (L&D) plays a much more central role in the employee journey.
By empowering current talent with the continuous skills training required to excel in today’s business landscape, organizations can remain competitive in their respective industries.
The employee journey begins with the job description, and while salary is certainly a key consideration when an employee decides to accept a new job, it’s not the only factor. Training and development programs are also important to an employee’s career path and satisfaction. Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold 12 to 15 jobs in their lifetime. From the perception of the employees, employer-provided training opportunities are critical to accepting a position. Nearly one-third of workers surveyed in a recent CGS workforce study said that L&D is the most important attribute and benefit they consider when evaluating a new position. In the retail industry, findings show that training and development is just as important to employees as salary, signifying the growing employee demand for access to up-to-date learning in the workplace.
And employees are not just receptive to L&D opportunities; they are proactively seeking out learning programs. The study found that employees are eager for more frequent, diverse training. This suggests that investment in L&D from recruitment to leadership benefits the bottom line and can help organizations improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
In the telecommunications industry in particular, the workforce study shows that nearly 40 percent of employees feel they have to tackle day-to-day technical skills building on their own because their employers do not offer this type of training. Above that, 50 percent of employees in the retail, telecommunications, and hospitality industries cited that they are concerned about their current level of technical skills. Clearly, organizations need to involve employees and find new ways to support their needs and interests by offering technical skills training.
Improving Retention with L&D
If business leaders don’t meet the need for enhanced training, organizations will be at risk of high employee turnover. While HR is at the front line of employee turnover, it affects the entire organization—from operations managers and finance to product and customer service. The level of attrition varies across industries, with the retail industry suffering from a higher level of churn compared to the U.S. average (60 percent versus 15 percent, respectively). Learning programs are especially critical to retaining retail workers, with 40 percent of employees noting that they care about salary and learning opportunities equally.
Adapting L&D Frequency
Across industries, employees say their organizations frequently roll out new procedures and policies. More than 25 percent of workers see these types of changes weekly and 49 percent experienced new procedures and policies monthly. But skills-building training programs are delivered much less often, with 44 percent of companies doing so on an annual basis.
In an attempt to balance new initiatives with ongoing job responsibilities, employees are looking to their companies for guidance and training on the skills that will help them with current and future daily tasks. To navigate this challenge and be successful in their core roles, employees require support from leadership.
Aligning Employers’ and Employees’ Expectations
In terms of learning formats, research shows that there is a major disconnect between employers and employees. While 37 percent of employees find instructor-led training to be the most engaging, only 13 percent of L&D leaders plan to increase investment in this format. Pointing to even more misalignment, 22 percent of L&D leaders plan to reduce instructor-led efforts this year.
HR leaders should consider that employees aren’t just looking for more immersive formats, they also want new topics. While workers in the retail industry feel they have plenty of access to leadership training, they crave new learning opportunities in problem-solving and emerging technology. When reviewing an L&D strategy, organizations must take both delivery method and content into consideration to better serve employee training needs.
A Look Ahead at Global L&D
As the global workforce transforms, more industries will need to adapt their training and development strategies to accommodate the modern workforce. To better serve the growing population of remote or “deskless workers,” including nurses and engineers, organizations will need to reevaluate or find alternatives to existing courses to better suit the work style of these employees. This can include implementing mobile training that workers can easily access on their phones or tablets.
It’s common for deskless workers to thrive with interactive training such as augmented reality, giving them the opportunity to problem solve real-world scenarios. With the adoption of these interactive training formats, deskless workers can, for example, learn how to use or fix expensive non-mobile equipment. Yet there’s no replacement for shoulder-to-shoulder knowledge transfer and there are many digital options for providing e-coaching and mentoring from internal subject-matter experts.
There is no one-size-fits-all program that will guarantee alignment between employers and employees of all industries. Each organization has a specific set of skills that is relevant to achieve optimal business results. It’s up to HR leaders across industries to identify high-demand skills and promote programs that will help employees perform their jobs better and more efficiently to enhance the company’s bottom line.
Doug Stephen is senior vice president of the learning division of CGS.