As the world of work continues to evolve, training must adapt to keep pace. Enhancing the efficiency of the tools and methods learning leaders use to assess knowledge and deliver training is necessary to develop relevant and accessible learning solutions for today’s employees.

At the spring Training Industry Conference & Expo (TICE), Ken Taylor, Training Industry’s chief executive officer, shared key insights on emerging industry trends and how they will impact the way we work and learn. Let’s explore some of the pressing questions that learning leaders just like you asked about current trends, with expert insights from Ken Taylor.

Question: For a traditional organization, would you advise to follow the trend to implement a learning experience platform (LXP) or would you advise to use a learning management system (LMS) that has LXP capabilities?

Answer: The decision on whether to purchase an LXP, LMS or both depends on the needs of the organization, the nature of the training being provided and the experience you want for the learners.

For example, if your team has a substantial percent of the training provided to employees in the compliance realm, you will need an LMS for shareable content object reference model (SCORM) capabilities in course monitoring to know whether they saw the slides or passed the in-course knowledge checks.

With that said, if just tracking completion is all that matters, LXP may be the way to go. The real decision, after compliance needs, is the nature of the training you provide and what type of user experience you want the learner to have.

If your programs offer multimodal experiences (e.g., video, eLearning, virtual instructor-led training, etc.) or journeys that the user needs to be encouraged to complete and has the freedom to select the order, then LXP is the way to go. If your programs are rather simple, often single modality, and perhaps role or department specific, you’ll be fine with an LMS.

Question: Any suggestions on fighting the survey/assessment fatigue in the virtual/hybrid world?

Answer: That’s a super hard one because we need learner input but everyone is getting pinged all the time. My big piece of advice is to shorten the survey: asking the most important questions, not all the questions. I think if you’re mindful of people’s time and have a reputation of being mindful of people’s time, people will likely fill out your surveys.

Question: Speaking of surveys, what are your thoughts about net promotor scores (NPS) for training? Do you think this will be sustainable?

Answer: The NPS really sets the bar for your training programs – where you are striving to get to the point where people are recommending your programs. To me, that’s the game changer. When you are talking about a service of any kind in your organization to your external customers, you want to be the organization that people refer, that people recommend, and that’s a really high bar.

Some days you come in and you’re like “man, we’re all in neutral.” And in some situations that probably is the best you could have done. But setting the bar where you and your organization want to be is a great place to drive improvement. I’m a big believer in using that as a metric.

Question: What are thoughts on a “real world” assessment for training that shows some type of return on investment (ROI) to the business (e.g., increase in sales following a sales training or increase in retention after soft skills/leadership training, etc.)?

Answer: I love the notion of assessing the impact of a program against some other corporate goal. And that’s the high order of evaluation — you are trying to find the lever that you are trying to move by doing the training program. It can be done, and it has to be done before the program is created. You have to think about where you want to get to and then track your progress toward that.

Oftentimes, I think we fail to remember that the biggest impact of ROI on a program is the relevance of the program. There’s nothing worse than taking employees’ time away from their jobs and not giving them something that is significant in return. So, don’t forget that getting the employee back to work quickly with the skills they need has a much bigger impact on our ROI than even the outcome for the organization.

I just think that we often forget that we just took an employee off the job for two days and if that training wasn’t super relevant, then that was an expensive two days.

Question: With the “lack of people wanting to work” and the need to have workers, I see a trend in manufacturing to forgo assessments just to get bodies in to run the lines. Any tips on getting over that hurdle? That’s what I constantly struggle with.

Answer: It’s interesting right, because I’m not convinced that giving up on assessing where they are is necessarily tied to whether or not you are going to hire the employee. It is a super tough market to find employees for all kinds of jobs, and this is the heart of that trend: Organizations are bringing in people who are not necessarily fully skilled. Organizations are doing it everywhere.

I was reading this piece that was talking about the fact that most organizations feel that employees are lacking 25% of the skills to be perfectly efficient in their jobs. So if you think about that holistically, inside of all companies, that same issue you are experiencing exists in every department. But the important thing is to understand where they are and not give them unnecessary training, so they can take the time to invest in the training that they do need. That will get them proficient the quickest, so they aren’t wasting time on the things they already know. That’s why it’s important to give that preliminary assessment before you jump in to training.

Question: What artificial reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) platforms are available for practicing proper behaviors/actions?

Answer: There are many training providers that have the capability to build that and make it available. I think most of the programs are being developed in a technology called Unity. That seems to be the dominant technology, at least in the learning space at this point. So I would be looking for a company that can help you with some Unity programming. And again, there are some companies, like Immerse, that are actually starting to build libraries of virtual reality content with the idea that they may just have to customize it opposed to designing it from scratch.

And it’s really cool to see the soft skills application for the technology. For example, I recently went through a demo on empathy training for branch managers. It creates a safe place to practice skills that would be really tricky to practice in other situations.

Question: Would you share your view on the transformative importance of training professionals as thought leaders within our businesses and corporations?

Answer: The front cover of Training Industry’s 2022 Trends e-book illustrates this notion of a table with a seat added to it. The great thing is when you look at the key trends we talk about, concepts like retention and upskilling employees, these are super important objectives for companies everywhere. In the 16 years I’ve been with Training Industry, it’s never been more obvious that training is critical to a majority of companies – whether it’s retaining employees, getting them to efficiently perform their jobs, or training new employees who don’t have the necessary skills.

Many of the major challenges that organizations are going through right now have a link back to training. That’s the big change here. I think CEOs across the board are talking about how critical learning and development is to them reaching their goals. So, the exciting thing is, in this community you are a part of — this event and events like this — there are so many great ideas and people who are so willing to share them.