Technology is constantly changing, so it comes as no surprise that there’s a constant need for training. What people learnt ten years ago may no longer be relevant. The systems put in place five years ago have now changed. It seems like only yesterday that your team was using Microsoft Lync, and now your business has deployed Skype for Business or maybe even Microsoft Teams. Other platforms, like Sharepoint and Yammer, may have been introduced too.
Add to that a multi-generational workforce and a mix of preferred ways of working. It’s no wonder staff may be overwhelmed by all the new and existing platforms. Even applications like Microsoft Word and Excel are not being fully utilised to help maximise output and increase efficiency.
Technology training isn’t just a matter of organisations and HR departments being given a budget and selecting a few training events over the course of a year. This tick-box approach rarely results in a genuine change in how people use the technology.
The key to successful staff training is to see training as an ongoing process, not an event.
Training as a process, not an event
Think of the way performance appraisals are changing. They used to be a one-off, sit-down chat each year. Now performance management is an ongoing process of support and appraisal. The same should be applied to training, particularly technology training.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, US companies invest big bucks in employee training and education — $160 billion in the US and close to $356 billion globally in 2015 alone. But, the article says, these companies are not getting a good return on their investment. The training doesn’t result in improved performance because employees quickly revert to their usual ways of doing things.
HR leaders need to take a strategic approach to training, so it’s no longer a one-off, tick-box event, but an ongoing process of coaching, assessment and skill development that involves senior leaders and managers. Training needs should be based on organisational need and aligned with identified and monitored business outcomes.
There’s one very good reason why training needs to be an ongoing exercise without an end date, and that’s technology. Technology continues to disrupt the modern workforce and will continue to do so.
With all this change, organisations need to ensure staff can use the tools they have, maximise quick and handy shortcuts to help and increase productivity and efficiency.
To remain relevant, organisations need knowledgeable and skilled employees who are creative and innovative, continuously learning, and thinking about how to be more effective in the workplace.
Remember – employee productivity isn’t about how long or hard people work. It comes down to the conditions in which they are able to get work done, using technology as effectively as possible. According to Microsoft, employees feel twice as productive if the business has a strong digital culture. This is because the conditions are in place to get work done more efficiently and effectively.
Keeping training front of mind
Based on our first-hand experiences we’ve put together some tips to help you ensure training is front of mind for your organisation.
1. Always follow up
Good training always requires follow-up. You need a resource to answer employee questions, to enable them to review their learning and reinforce skills. This could be printed or online or could be in the form of additional training opportunities to test whether that new knowledge has stuck.
2. Coaching is essential
Successful training means a change in behaviour – as in, employees will use their new knowledge in their daily work, not go back to their old ways of doing things. Training should also achieve a pre-determined outcome, perhaps an improvement in employee productivity or efficiency. It’s vital that supervisors and management participate in training to show the company is committed to increasing digital IQ. Studies show that good training can increase effectiveness of the learner by around 30 percent. Training, combined with follow up and coaching, increases effectiveness by over 80 percent.
3. Build on knowledge
The problem with treating training as a one-time event is that performance will peak shortly after the training and then fall off as the months pass by. But with good follow-up training and coaching, employees can embrace their learning and improve performance. It opens their eyes to opportunities never before imagined and that may have passed unnoticed for many years. Plus, employees become advocates for training – sharing their knowledge and helping others.
4. Training should stem from business needs
Another mistake some organisations make is to create training initiatives for the sake of training – perhaps because a budget has been set aside. But successful training stems from an organisation’s business needs. Look at existing gaps in knowledge. Provide an avenue – perhaps a survey – for staff to share what training they think they need. Organisations need to make wise investments in training and follow through to determine how successful the session was. Measure performance and monitor it regularly – leaders need to know what’s changed as a result of a training session.
From our perspective, training should never be regarded as a one-off event. Successful training is a continuing, ever-evolving process. Organisations need to empower employees and build a culture where training is the norm and is ongoing. It should be viewed as supportive and essential to building up the team, supporting staff growth and developing skills.
If you’re interested in finding out how you can make training an ongoing process in your organisation, visit CorrectED to find out more.