Your learners are busy, with long to-do lists and competing priorities in a quickly changing workplace environment.

And that was true before the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there will always be a place for virtual and in-person training programs, workshops and seminars, your organization needs a strategy that supports workers when they need it and where they need it the most. That strategy needs to encompass all of the communications and information shared with workers throughout the organization, and it needs to be unified, cohesive and aligned with your business goals.

The solution you’re looking for is workforce enablement.

What Is Workforce Enablement?

“Workforce enablement” is a term that encompasses the full spectrum of interactions and communications between a worker and a company that support the worker’s job performance. It includes learning and development (L&D), knowledge management, internal policies, and employee communications and marketing.

Workforce enablement might include:

  • A virtual instructor-led training (VILT) course.
  • A five-minute video on how to use a helpful feature of a new software tool.
  • An email from the chief executive officer explaining a new company policy or initiative.
  • One-on-one meetings between managers and workers.

In short, workforce enablement includes almost any content or communication aimed at helping workers succeed on the job. What’s more, recent research by Training Industry, Inc. and Conduent found that an effective and unified workforce enablement distinguishes high-performing companies from their less successful peers.

What Does Effective Workforce Enablement Look Like?

One critical element of an effective workforce enablement strategy is that workers see it as unified and seamless, not disjointed or siloed. The messages they receive through communications and training are consistent, not contradictory or mixed. This cohesive approach to workforce enablement requires coordination across multiple teams, but it pays off in improved employee satisfaction, motivation and retention; company culture; and ability to adapt to change.

To achieve these benefits from your workforce enablement strategy, follow these three tips:

1. Offer Multimodal Training

Different training methods offer different benefits — and combining them maximizes the return on your investment. The best workforce enablement strategies incorporate a variety of learning methods, meeting the learning preferences of a broad range of workers and creating engaging training across the board.

These methods include — but are certainly not limited to — on-the-job training (OJT), VILT, in-person instructor-led training (ILT), self-paced eLearning, and augmented and virtual reality training and simulations (AR/VR).

For example, upon launching a new product, a company needs to train its sales and customer support teams on the product. The L&D team begins with a VILT session to introduce the product and its features. Following that session, the sales team receives access to a series of short self-paced micro-eLearning modules and job aids that help them dive deeper into key features and the benefits to their customers. The customer support team also receives a series of VR simulation exercises, sharing examples of expected customer questions and how to address them in a role-play. Finally, the L&D team prepares sales and customer support managers through a virtual coach and on-the-job training (OTJ) training with their team members as questions and challenges arise in real time regarding the new product.

2. Use a Combination of Communication Channels

According to research, high-performing companies not only use a mix of channels to communicate with workers — they leverage them all:

  • Employee portals
  • Mobile communication
  • Company events and launches
  • Company website
  • Chat tools
  • Notice boards
  • Email

By using all of these communication channels, you can ensure that your message reaches all of your workers, regardless of where they work or what they do. However, it’s important to do so in a strategic, cohesive way. In other words, it won’t matter that you use both text messaging and the company website to share a new policy with workers if the messages provided on those platforms are contradictory or confusing.

3. Deliver a Comprehensive Enablement Experience

Similarly, by using all forms of enablement — knowledge management tools, communications, L&D, policy, and internal marketing — you can reach all workers and support them as they do their work. Here’s an example for a health and safety initiative:

  • The company might add to its internal knowledge base a description of a new policy, an FAQ document, a video demonstrating the consequences of not following the policy and a checklist for carrying out the policy on the job.
  • The chief executive officer might send an email to all workers announcing the initiative and explaining why he or she believed it to be important to the company.
  • The company would update all compliance and human resources (HR) policy documents related to any new policies to ensure consistency.
  • A multimodal training program on the new policy might include a live virtual introduction, videos demonstrating new safety practices and the awarding of certificates upon successful completion of the program.
  • An internal marketing campaign could include communications about the initiative and associated training requirements and public recognition of employees who demonstrate safe practices.

Workforces are becoming dispersed, change is becoming more constant and worker enablement is becoming more important than ever. By creating a cohesive, comprehensive workforce enablement strategy, you can position your organization for success now and in the future — whatever comes next.