Workforce enablement is the sum total of interactions and communications in an organization that help workers do their job better. It includes learning and development (L&D), knowledge management, internal policies, and employee communications and marketing. Research shows that companies with an effective workforce enablement strategy outperform companies with an ineffective (or no) workforce enablement strategy.
Once you’ve embarked on developing a workforce enablement strategy for your organization, what’s next? How can you take your workforce enablement program to the next level?
The answer integrates enablement throughout the course of workers’ day, delivering support when, where and in the format they need it. This support can be in the form of formal or informal training and can occur at any of the 5 Moments of Need™.
When employees are learning to perform a new task for the first time (the “new” moment of need), they often require formal training to do it successfully. This type of training might involve, for example, a formal virtual workshop for new managers on how to provide feedback, a series of self-paced eLearning modules for salespeople regarding a new product offering or a microlearning video for technicians on how to fix a piece of machinery they’ve never used before.
Another time employees need formal training is when they have learned the basics of a topic and are expanding their knowledge, or when they are experienced with a skill in one context but need to learn how to use it in a different context (the “more” moment of need). Again, this training can take the form of many different approaches, but it involves setting aside some time to consume content or participate in a course.
The majority of the learning and workforce enablement and experiences come in the form of informal and on-the-job training and content development and optimization— what is often called “learning in the flow of work.” This enablement is critical for workers experiencing the “apply,” “solve” and “change” moments of need — when they are learning to apply what they’ve learned in formal training, solve an unexpected problem, or change the way they were previously performing a task or completing a process.
In this case, enablement comes in a variety of formats. It might look like a sales manager listening in on a sales call and then providing some feedback to the sales agent. It might look like an employee’s performance review with a manager (or even an informal performance conversation). It might look like internal communications regarding a change initiative, a new technology platform or a point solution within a client application. It might look like a repository of content such as FAQs, product sheets and other job aids. It might look like an internal social network for workers to ask each other questions and share success stories or lessons learned. Regardless of the format, effective informal learning is easy to access and effective in helping workers find what they need, when they need it.
Putting It Together
These types of formal and informal learning and performance support create a three-pronged approach to workforce enablement: performing, adapting and interacting.
“Performing” refers to supporting and improving worker performance. By enabling worker self-sufficiency, providing formal learning and curated content, and coordinating human resources (HR) initiatives such as performance management, workforce enablement teams can develop high-performing employees and, therefore, a high-performing organization.
“Adapting” refers to the internal work involved in organizational change and other internal initiatives. When organizations coordinate internal communications and internal marketing, policies and governance, and change leadership and management, they more cohesively and effectively give workers the information they need, when they need it.
“Interacting” refers to the important collaboration and social relationships that occur spontaneously and deliberately within an organization. From the technology that supports virtual communication to the social and collaborative learning programs that boost learning outcomes, after 2020, we know more than ever the importance of building connections across the business.