It’s the time of year for human resources professionals to look back on employee performance and begin planning their training needs for 2019. To any business, human capital is its greatest asset and the biggest key to achieving business goals. How can you better prepare your teams to perform in a highly competitive environment? Through training.
Learning and technology walk hand in hand. As high-tech innovations accelerate, so does the opportunity to create better corporate training programs and delivery methods. As the president and CEO of one of the largest learning and development providers in the United States, I have learned that organizations need personalized training that incorporates cutting-edge technology, supports professional development and encourages employee engagement. More than ever, training is effectively providing skills that match the way we learn in a high-tech world. Here are seven of the top training trends you should pay attention to in 2019.
1. C-suite and HR work together better to align goals.
The biggest mistake I see that keeps an organization’s learning and development efforts from reaching their full potential is a lack of planning and commitment from the C-suite. Leaders who don’t plan exactly what they want their training to accomplish are wasting resources. In a learning culture, management and HR work together to define the values, processes and practices that employees, departments and the organization can use to increase their performance and competencies. The knowledge and skills acquired and applied by employees is shared freely in a learning culture, creating a sustainable and adaptable organization.
2. Develop competencies for future organizational goals.
To maintain the continued health of your company, management must target employees who can take over future leadership roles. For current employees, immediately begin training on leadership development, communication and problem-solving skills. If they aren’t already, HR can target job candidates with leadership potential in all their talent acquisition efforts. Management can help develop future leaders and managers as soon as new employees enter the door by providing mentors and helping them build professional networks. Improving your leadership development program helps you build teams that are agile and capable of evolving with the times.
3. Emphasize communication skills.
As organizations become more diverse and broaden their reach, company leaders see the value in developing their employees’ soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, collaboration and negotiation. In fact, more than 90% of respondents to a 2016 Deloitte survey rated soft skills a “critical priority.” They also indicated that soft skills can foster employee retention, improve leadership and build a meaningful culture.
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However, there is widespread concern among recruiters that the soft skills gap is widening with the technologically savvy but soft-skill-poor Gen Z employees entering the workforce. Learning and development personnel can overcome this challenge by offering soft skills training to employees and encouraging them to refine their social skills. An introduction to soft skills training may include holding brainstorm sessions where employees list the possible uses for various soft skills or helping them role play to discover different situational outcomes.
4. Increase the gamification of training.
There is a misunderstanding about gamification and training programs in the real world. Unwitting business owners will scoff at the notion of gamification because they believe it means turning their training programs into video games. Understandably, they feel that their critical and potentially life-saving OSHA-compliance training should not be equivalent to Donkey Kong. What they don’t realize is that gamification is simply a process of building a progressive reward system into training that imitates modern video games.
Badges, points, leaderboards and community involvement incentivize the online training experience for even the most jaded learner. Learners who lack the passion and drive to participate can use these tools as a springboard until their core motivation kicks in.
5. View training as an employee benefit and bait for talent acquisition.
Training can be a key differentiator between companies competing for talent. Employees want to work for organizations that provide personal and professional development, and they consider it a deciding factor when looking for new employment or determining if they should stay with their current employer. Learning and development plays a critical role in engaging — and retaining — employees. Leverage your training as an employee incentive, and add it to your existing benefits package alongside retirement and health and wellness options.
6. Weigh learner-centric against content-oriented training.
Training in the past that focused solely on content was “one size fits all,” which made it difficult to engage with the learner. Today, we must zero in on the learner, including his or her experience, work environment, performance and technological fluency, to create a training program. Any effective training program is one developed for the individual and offers social activities to share their experiences.
As you train, think of your employees as consumers. They are used to getting 500,000 results per search on Google, YouTube automatically playing related videos based on what they’ve just watched, and Netflix suggesting content matches based on viewing pattern algorithms. For the learning consumer, training clips on your YouTube channel, a classroom training session, a MOOC (massive online open course) or a post shared on Facebook Workplace are elements that can be turned into learning content.
7. Digital and mobile content and delivery are more critical than ever.
According to a 2018 study by LinkedIn, the biggest challenge for talent development is getting employees to make time for learning. Employees would agree that they don’t have the time to take away from their primary jobs to get the training. Delivering your training on multiple platforms, such as classroom, mobile and on-demand, can help eliminate the time crunch for busy employees.
These seven learning and development trends provide a good indication of where the training industry is heading. It is about personalization, ongoing support and making the most of today's cutting-edge technologies. It also gives your employees the incentives and social interactions they need to actively engage.
Cameron Bishop is the CEO/President of SkillPath, a leading provider of learning and development solutions for business professionals.
Published on Forbes.com