How do companies know if their training program has fallen into a static, routine rhythm? In most cases, unless a company is properly evaluating and tracking the training, it already has. As an industry that’s ranked the third most important business priority in the world, why wouldn’t more emphasis be placed on evolving and improving training programs to increase employee productivity, success and perhaps most importantly, retention?

It’s recently been reported that employees who feel their company has poor training opportunities are more than three times as likely to want to leave their job than those whose organizations have excellent training programs. Despite this very clear mandate, most companies still undervalue training and hold fast to the “it’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. They check the learning and development box and continue on the same path, which often includes employee self-assessments to determine pre-requisite knowledge and the skills they need to develop. While an employee may have a general sense of their strengths and weaknesses, this is not an effective way to measure an employee’s skills.

Employees then complete a one-size-fits-all training program and complete a basic satisfaction survey that simply rates the experience from the employee’s perspective. The analytics and insights from these antiquated programs miss the mark and focus on the training experience, not whether the user understood the information and can apply it on the job. Yet, comprehension is the key to career growth. And for millennials in particular, who, by 2020, will make up 50 percent of the global workforce, the existence of personal development opportunities was the most influential factor when choosing their current job.

Acquire and Retain the Best

Companies need to re-think their training needs. Employees are demanding tools that foster personal career growth and improve their job performance. The good news is, it’s easier than it may seem. When re-evaluating a training program and identifying areas for improvement, companies should consider the following:

Start training on an employee’s first day. The proper onboarding training can identify the skill sets new employees need to grow before they even start. From the beginning, an employee’s knowledge and performance needs to be properly measured and tracked in order to adapt the content. Without this measurement, an employee can become discouraged because of lackluster job performance and an inability to comprehend the material.

Track an employee’s performance as they make their way through training. With this data, companies can determine what content can be bypassed and what content should be reviewed more closely. Offering a static pathway through training not only doesn’t take into account an employee’s existing expertise, but it also will never effectively accommodate each employee’s own learning style.

Use the right analytics to measure success and comprehension. Though some organizations claim they already measure the success of their training programs using analytics, they more than likely aren’t using the right analytics—which brings us back to the misguided focus on training satisfaction versus comprehension. If an organization expects to impact an employee’s success, their performance during the training and retention of the material needs to be analyzed and addressed. Otherwise, an organization risks unnecessarily losing a talented employee.

Tailor content to the employee’s learning style using predictive analytics. E-learning technologies are now coming to market that apply advanced algorithms and predictive analytics to training. Organizations can now have real-time access to easy-to-understand data analysis that will result in training programs that improve engagement, foster a willingness to learn, and aid in employee retention.

Adapt content to better align with business objectives. Predictive analytics, along with machine learning, can be used to predict key future events for employees, including whether or not an employee will pass a course, and whether or not their engagement is about to drop. The data collected can then identify key behavioral traits and patterns that correlate to success in a course. Armed with these insights, new strategies can be developed to improve future performance.

Actively investing in engaging and impactful training, particularly during onboarding, keeps an employee invested. Successful training programs have proven to increase job satisfaction and motivation at work and employees with high levels of engagement on the job tend to be top performers. Making the investment in this type of training shows employees that their company is actively engaged in their personal growth and in helping them progress in their careers. 

Jim Walker is executive chairman of Zoomi, Inc.