The world has come out of lockdown with mixed results. Some industries thrived, and others didn’t. Some businesses have been able to adapt, while others were hit with supply chain issues or other barriers and had to shut down. Now, inflation, rumors of recession, talent shortages, hiring freezes and more are constantly causing upheaval. At times, it feels like the only thing you can count on anymore is uncertainty.
As businesses struggle to plan in a constantly changing world, everyone is looking for ways to future-proof their organization. One of the best ways to make sure your team is ready for anything is a solid training program embedded in a strong culture of learning, innovation and adaptability.
Learning for the sake of learning is a great life skill, but it’s not always the best way to propel the goals of a company forward. To really prepare your workforce for an uncertain future, there may be some shifts that need to happen in the way you think about training.
Based on decades of experience in the eLearning industry and conversations with training experts across different industries, consider the following list of the top four things I believe companies should consider as they factor learning into their business strategy moving forward.
1. Training has to happen in a different way.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t keep operating under the same business model that has worked for decades. Workers are demanding more flexible options, so pulling your team into a conference room and teaching them in person may no longer work in some cases.
Fortunately, technology is evolving almost as quickly as work, so companies have more options than ever before on how to get training done. It’s also increasingly possible to deliver knowledge at the point of need –– employees can look for the information they need from an app on their smartphone anytime, anywhere.
There will always be a time and a place for in-person training, but it makes sense now more than ever for executives to explore new technologies and see where they fit in. Virtual reality (VR), video practice and coaching, gamification and a variety of other solutions can help create exceptional learning experiences that can enable workers to take charge of their own learning and development (L&D).
2. Plan for the long term.
When times get hard, management often targets training programs for budget cuts, because it doesn’t seem like an immediate need. In reality, cutting the budget for learning is a short-term solution with long-term effects.
Successful businesses need competent, skilled employees in order to keep innovating, stay current in their fields and push the company forward. It isn’t always easy to measure the return on investment when it comes to training, but it’s obvious to see the stagnation left when an organization stops focusing on learning new things.
Instead of slashing training altogether, think strategically about how courses fit in with the objectives of the business. What is driving the most revenue and growth? Is it sales, new products, repeat customers or something else? Put limited dollars behind the training that will help further these skills and align employees with these goals.
3. Data matters.
One of the major advantages of digital spaces is that everything is (usually) recorded. As a result, companies are able to capture meaningful data in a way that is unprecedented. eLearning programs can determine who completed what, who is responding in impactful ways, how engaged your workforce as a whole is, and what motivates them individually.
Not only that, but smart learning solutions can take that data and help craft a personalized journey for each employee that allows them to work on areas where they are weak, bypass courses they have already mastered, and follow interests that fit in with their career goals. If you don’t have the capacity within your own L&D team to create high-level courses like this, outsourcing the project may give you a better return on your investment.
eLearning can actually help improve the quality of training if the business’ goals and data drive what employees learn.
4. Train for the skills you need.
It’s easy to set up an onboarding process that gives workers an overview, and then never think about that process again. But the skills that your employees need are going to change over time.
Training programs have to be constantly reassessed and updated to match the needs of your organization. To truly be future proof, L&D should focus on skills of the future. If you are moving toward a metaverse model, employees may need mastery of 3-D concepts like virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). If you hope to have more automation, employees need to be trained to work with robots or upskilled to different roles once their current job is managed by artificial intelligence (AI). If you want to be most sustainable, there are skills and knowledge that can help drive that. If your team is learning for the future, your company is on track to grow and change with whatever comes next.
Learning has to have a place in your organization’s future plans. Workers can’t be expected to adapt quickly if they aren’t given tools to learn and acquire new skills and do things they’ve never done before. The way you train workers will change with time, but the need for training never goes away. Luckily, with the right technology and a good plan, learning can be an efficient, fulfilling part of company culture that allows your team to take on the future –– with all of its uncertainty.