The corporate learning environment is changing. We are learning more about how people consume and retain knowledge and adapting to different kinds of people entering the workplace. Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse in gender, race, ethnicity and age, meaning training must be adaptable and multifaceted to be effective. In addition, remote work is on the rise, making it tougher than ever to gather a group of employees into a classroom setting for one-size-fits-all training sessions.
These changes require a new approach to hiring for your training team. Once, you may have sought out a charismatic classroom trainer who could keep people engaged, alert and informed through hours or days of textbook training. Now, you may be more focused on finding learning and development professionals who can write questions and answers for a chatbot or design an augmented reality program to give new employees a nearly hands-on onboarding experience.
Here are some developments to keep in mind:
According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent percent of Americans own smartphones, up from 35 percent in 2011. Smartphones give workers the flexibility to learn on the go, on their own time and at their own pace. Mobile access presents new challenges to instructional designers, who must keep screen size and user experience in mind as they develop training. Many employers believe accessing a desktop website on mobile is adequate. However, to develop mobile-friendly training, it’s important to make sentences brief, integrate video and audio correctly, and replace links with buttons. In other words, develop training specifically for mobile first, rather than focusing on the desktop and shrinking it to mobile size.
For many workers, the ideal learning method is tapping into always-available resources through mobile devices. They can easily jump in for 10- to 15-minute increments in the back of a Lyft, in a coffee shop or while waiting in line. Younger employees, members of the millennial or Gen Z generations, are the common target for this type of training, but also consider multitasking Gen Xers or professionals trying to level-up their careers with side gigs.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR has a growing place among skilled and semi-skilled trades. Why turn a new employee loose on an expensive and potentially dangerous piece of equipment, like a forklift, when he or she could gain a measure of comfort in a VR environment first? Of course, hands-on training is an essential next step, but training in VR first can reduce risk to the worker, other employees and your equipment. VR also allows new workers to ramp up quickly without tying up a machine to practice.
When people think about gamification, they tend to envision millennials and Gen Zers who grew up playing Halo or Mario Brothers. They may be surprised to learn that almost 40 percent of Candy Crush players are over the age of 35 or fail to consider the number of Jeopardy viewers playing along at home. People learn better when it’s fun. Whether it’s as simple as making quizzes that learners can take on a smartphone or as involved as an immersive virtual reality experience, gamification increases engagement and retention. In other words, they learn faster and remember it longer.
The most old-fashioned method of learning is making a comeback in the latest learning technologies. Training that follows a narrative thread is more logical, memorable and understandable. Storytelling can take the form of sharing real-life examples in instruction or creating a clear narrative in training modalities such as VR, AR or games.
Your 2019 Learning and Development Team
Which people and roles do you need to add to your team to keep up with these L&D innovations? There’s a wide range. According to HR Technologist, machine learning engineers and machine learning specialists are among the top five most in-demand jobs for 2019. Both positions are instrumental in AI and other learning technologies that are increasingly important to corporate training.
Other roles that are a part of this changing landscape include:
- App developers
- E-learning developers
- Content specialists
- Multimedia developers
- Digital learning consultants
How Can You Get Your Team Up to Speed?
Chances are your need for L&D professionals is in constant flux. Whether you tend to onboard large groups who require extra hands-on trainers or need a developer to create an app that learners can access on demand, you probably don’t need to add a large number of L&D professionals to your full-time staff. When that’s the case, flexible solutions may be effective.
Contracted consultants can be a cost-effective option, allowing you to ramp up and scale down as needed without adjusting your internal staff. This approach provides flexibility and significant cost savings, allowing you to focus on a specific project and your company’s long-term goals. Consulting can control costs while ensuring that you can access the talent you require quickly.
Also consider outsourcing and insourcing for additional flexibility. By outsourcing training to a third party, you’ll have access to highly specialized professionals as needed. Insourcing can be a win-win, because you can tap internal talent as required, and those employees gain the opportunity to take on new roles that add to their professional development.
Partnering with a Training Company
Training is a lot for a company to take on, particularly when there are more pressing priorities. It’s common for training and development to be pushed to the back burner in organizations focused on competing in the marketplace and minding their bottom line. For this reason, many businesses outsource training to learning and development experts: A training development company is singularly focused on L&D. It has the expertise and resources to remain focused on your business while developing and retaining your best people.