10 time-tested techniques for boosting productivity.
By Jeff Fernandez
Global-market competition and other business factors such as the rising cost of healthcare have accelerated the need for companies to be more productive.
CIOs, CLOs, and HROs may look far and wide for ways to increase employee productivity. But the solutions they’re searching for may be closer at hand than they think.
Training employees to make better use of existing technology investments may be the shortest route to impressive gains in productivity and return on investment. A classic (2006) report from The Gartner Group demonstrated that untrained workers take up to six times as long to accomplish work compared with employees who are properly trained. But most people can intuit that training improves productivity, even if they can’t identify exactly how much faster the work gets done. And beyond specific productivity gains, training shows employees you’re willing to invest in their future.
Here are 10 proven ways that an HR-led training program can boost productivity, reduce support costs, and increase employee job satisfaction and retention:
1. Take advantage of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend.
With the proliferation of smart phones and tablets, employees increasingly want to train on their own devices. Many employees would rather train by watching a 60-second video at their leisure than being tethered to an office computer.
A solution that reflects the increased mobility of on-the- go employees puts staff in control of their own learning experience. A 15- to 30-minute lunch break or during a commute to and from work can become a productive and desired way to master new skills.
2. Look for opportunities for ‘hyper-attentive’ learning.
With the ever-increasing trend of companies trying to do more with less, they look to streamline every area of their business, including learning.
In 2014 and beyond, short-form learning will have a greater role to play, and seminars, conferences, workshops, and webinars will continue to decline. Research has shown that hyper-attentive learning increases knowledge transfer by as much as 17 percent.
With hyper-attentive learning, you can provide individualized learning faster while still delivering at scale. It’s less disruptive, easier to fit into busy work schedules, and helps eliminate information overload.
3. Start training on day one.
While employees are being onboarded, the first few weeks can be frustrating for candidates and unproductive for the company. It is much more productive for the company and satisfying for new employees when they receive training their first day on the job.
Giving new employees a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan during their first week on the job puts their work ahead in proper perspective and gives them a better understanding of what they need to accomplish to be successful in their new job.
4. Allow people and departments to perform at optimum competency.
An IT department’s expertise is not in training; its core competency is knowledge of systems and software. So avoid making training the responsibility of IT, except where it concerns “how to” complete an IT-related task.
As HR departments are well aware, their core responsibility is making sure people can do their job effectively. They understand best how people work and how to train them to work more productively. An organization functions most productively when everybody does what he or she does best.
5. Require training for productivity-boosting mobile apps.
With mobile devices increasingly dominating the future of employee training and development, organizations can increase productivity by training staff on how to navigate the world of productivity-boosting mobile apps.
Skype is ideal for face-to-face, two-way communication within the company or across the country. Dropbox, an online cloud-based application, facilitates the sharing of ideas and documents, promoting teamwork.
Organizations that train employees on how to use the most essential mobile apps will gain a competitive edge over competition that fail to train staff on how to use these time- and money-saving apps most productively.
6. Offer supplemental training materials that provide ongoing advice.
Downloadable PDFs allow employees to brush-up and improve their performance on skills they may not have mastered in their initial training sessions. Supplemental training materials give employees the option to learn “how to” instructions whenever the need arises.
Simple tests given at the end of video lessons act as memory refreshers that identify what an employee has learned and what they still has to master.
7. Take full advantage of developing trends like cloud computing enterprise software.
In 2014, cloud technology will become more commonplace and employee cloud training presents an opportunity for increased productivity. Organizations should take advantage of the rapid advancements in online and mobile technology to help employees work whenever and wherever they desire.
The change from local-only to cloud software will increase productivity, reduce cost, facilitate collaboration, and provide more flexible work options.
8. Explore ‘rapid content’ deployment.
The shelf life of training content is growing shorter and shorter. Rapid content deployment (RCD) embraces short- form and object-oriented content; it simplifies and speeds up the sharing of fresh, updated information.
RCD will help avoid company-wide training sessions every time Google Drive issues an update. RCD helps reduce ongoing content needs and training costs by simplifying content changes.
When information needs to be updated, RCD tools let you remove and update content seamlessly. Training departments can even update content already deployed, enabling true rapid learning changes.
9. Put learners in charge of their own learning experience.
On-demand training is efficient and effective. Staff can access the information they need whenever and wherever they want. There’s no need to wait for a scheduled class or for an instructor or trainer to come to their aid. Its always on, always available, and constant. When online training is offered on-demand, it can help solve immediate problems and concerns as they arise. When knowledge is not available at the critical moment of need, it results in decreased performance and productivity.
Also, since voluntary on-demand training can be taken during off-hours when employees are off-premises, it extends hours worked without adding to your payroll.
10. Offer training to all levels of your organization.
In some organizations, there is a tendency to offer the majority of training to the most experienced staff, often neglecting to offer a robust training program to younger employees.
Making training available on a more equitable basis benefits all levels of your organization. Young workers especially view training and development as critical to their job satisfaction; they welcome the opportunity to learn skills that will make them more valuable to the company. Job satisfaction pays short- and long-term dividends in productivity and employee retention.
Jeff Fernandez is co-founder and CEO of online-learning platform Grovo.