5 Critical Corporate Training Mistakes to Avoid in 2021

2020 was a dynamic year that required workers and leaders to adapt rapidly to crisis and change. While we appear to be looking ahead to calmer seas on which to sail for the rest of 2021, the changes that were made over the last year will most certainly stick around. 

Serious African American businessman analyzing documents while working on a laptop in a modern office.

Because of the pandemic, the digitization of workplace learning and development programs took off at rates higher than previously expected, so technology firmly takes center stage in terms of how we learn and engage in corporate development. Neglecting routine and comprehensive training opportunities for employees can mean that your business may fall behind the other top performers in your industry because your workforce will not have adequate soft and hard skills training to keep them competitive, invigorated, motivated and creative in their own roles. 

As you look ahead and develop corporate training for the rest of the year, be sure to avoid these common training pitfalls.

Workforce Training Mistakes Will Cost You

Perhaps the biggest lesson we’ve learned as a result of the pandemic in terms of how it affects workplace engagement is that technology is now a mainstay with regards how we communicate and function in our roles at work. 

According to a Gallup poll conducted in July of 2020, employee engagement reached an all-time high of 40 percent. Researchers believe that the crisis forced improvements with communication at work between employees and leaders. HR and management teams were forced to turn their focus to maintaining motivation, giving and receiving routine and effective feedback, keeping remote workers engaged, etc. They also had to make rapid changes if something wasn’t going well to keep businesses afloat and productive in such a chaotic time. 

One full year into the pandemic, and experts are now predicting that one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a wave of job churn in which up to 20 percent of our current workforce will seek out new employment opportunities. Job expectations changed rapidly over the past year, burnout rates soared and people’s personal values shifted, so this necessarily impacts how people are viewing their work. 

Corporate Training Mistakes

Turnover in the workplace can be costly. Replacing hourly workers, for example, can cost around $1500 per employee due to paid overtime for employees who have to help cover shifts, materials and training costs for new hires, etc. 70 percent of employees who left a job in recent years say they did so because their employer wasn’t offering adequate career development. Keeping employees engaged through regular training and upskilling efforts can help reduce the effects of post-pandemic turnover, saving your organization money. Your organization will also remain competitive, allowing you to drive increased profits and reach in your industry. 

Common Corporate Training Mistakes 

In recent years, businesses have spent around $83 billion on corporate training, but much of this money has been wasted due to a lack of follow-up. Now, considering the impacts made by the pandemic, researchers are expecting the eLearning software market to grow 16.2 percent by 2027. The major restraint to this growth will be lack of employee engagement and motivation, so it’s crucial for leadership teams to make sure that their corporate training programs are as effective as possible to make the money spent on training worthwhile. 

Here are the five most common mistakes employers make when providing learning and development programs and how to avoid making these mistakes with your own teams

1. Lack of preparation 

When leaders decide to provide a specific training to their employees, they can get caught up in the pressure of making the logistics work to actually carry out the program. However, to have an impactful learning event occur, employees need to know what to expect and be prepared themselves. Simply sending them a Zoom invite for corporate training doesn’t give them enough of what they really need to show up ready to learn.  Instead, employees may see training as just another routine meeting in their day. 

To account for this, create a checklist of the things that need to be done, and make sure this involves checking in with employees to ensure they know what to expect and are able to come prepared to learn new information. Have backup presenters/presentation materials prepared, as well, so that the training can be carried out as intended, even if there are logistic issues that come up day-of. 

2. Planning for diverse learning styles

Experts talk a lot about engaging learners in corporate training programs, but are they really taking into account the diverse learning styles that your group of employees will have? Creating a successful employee training program means anticipating a variety of learning styles and needs being present. This means tailoring the content to your team’s interests as best you can. 

Use micro-learning and AI to ensure that information is absorbed appropriately. If you notice that employees aren’t fully engaged during the event, make an effort to find out why so that you can improve your engagement next time. 

Remember that engaging your team will be a highly individualized process, so it’s up to you as the leader to know what they need and how you can deliver appropriate and impactful content to them. This can also include offering asynchronous learning opportunities via online courses that employees can complete when the timing is right for them. It’s important that we meet our team members in a place that allows them to learn well. 

3. Failing to gather feedback on trainings

Establishing a system in which you receive regular feedback on all training opportunities will help you understand your team’s needs. If you’ve sourced your training materials from outside providers, be sure to share the feedback with them, as well. They will be able to help you further personalize your training framework. 

You can also gather important metrics on training completion and effectiveness that will help inform how your business navigates certain processes. To start improving here, incorporate feedback forms into your training programs, and keep feedback anonymous so that employees feel safe to share their true thoughts. Make sure to give employees ample time to complete this feedback so that they don’t feel too rushed to be able to provide honest and thorough information.

4. Failing to adapt to employee needs

If there’s anything we’ve learned during the pandemic, it’s that employees have unique needs that require consideration. Some employees may struggle to navigate more technical aspects of training, especially if you start leaning very heavily on AI. Be sure to provide simple user interfaces, especially if you are providing asynchronous training. You can also designate a point of contact that employees know they can go to if they’re encountering technical issues. 

The best thing you can do to adapt to employee needs is to take their feedback seriously and make sure they know they’re supported in their learning process. If they need accommodations, they should feel safe enough to ask for that. Keeping training materials engaging via gamification and rewards can also help. Building opportunities for a sense of accomplishment to result throughout training for the learners is helpful, as well, as it promotes motivation.

5. Viewing training as one-off events

Training should rarely be seen as one-off events that employees will just show up to or complete and then forget. Thinking of training more as development opportunities will help employees remember that even information that doesn’t change needs to be revisited routinely to ensure that key details aren’t being forgotten or misremembered. 

For example, if you work in an educational setting, Title IX training will not change rapidly or frequently. However, you certainly would not want your employees to forget key details that they will need in the moment simply because they haven’t had to think about it recently. 

Regularly engage employees with upskilling and training opportunities, and try to incorporate the use of that knowledge into their day-to-day routines as much as you can. Remember, you lose money if you don’t help employees actually retain what you’re teaching them. 

Overcoming Training Pitfalls

As you work to ensure that your corporate training programs are engaging and meeting your employees’ needs, you will want to ensure that you have the most up-to-date knowledge in front of you so that you don’t fall behind. Just as routinely providing learning and development options for your employees is crucial to your business’s success, as a leader, you should also be committed to routine development efforts. 

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