Like many aspects in business, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of time and energy needed to develop a plan for workforce development. In addition, once a plan is in place, it’s common for both management and employees to find themselves at odds over training being offered (or not), unclear expectations and conflicting priorities.
The learning and development (L&D) needs of today’s workforce are different from even one year ago. So what should companies do in order to provide the most appropriate training courses to their corporate employees – training courses that will add value and ROI to their bottom lines? Here are a few suggestions.
Establish Educational Objectives
The most important part of the corporate training decision process is to establish your educational objectives. First, divide your objectives into two tracks: the corporate track and the personal track.
The corporate track will include objectives that are common for all employees, regardless of job title. This might include outcomes related to diversity, workplace communication, laws and regulations, and other topics that have shared value across your organization.
When it comes to the personal track, monitor objectives customized for each individual employee’s personal and career goals. This will require commitment on the part of the human resource professional, and an established, positive relationship with the employees you serve.
Consider, too, the sort of skills that will improve performance and personal professional satisfaction. This will include consideration of both hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are more likely to be important in the corporate track, but not exclusively so. The same can be said about soft skills in the personal track – they are more likely to be transferable across job changes – but, again, be open to the possibility that they may be more appropriately considered in the corporate track.
Regularly update your company’s educational objectives as necessary, especially in regard to the corporate track. New laws and technologies may make it necessary to add new training opportunities or change previous offerings. As culture changes – in the world and in business – you may have things to review.
Additionally, maintain detailed reports for each of your individual workers that clearly show short-, middle- and long-term developmental goals, and track completed courses and how they connect to the worker’s plans. In this way, the established educational objectives can be articulated frequently and used to build a workforce that’s beneficial to both the company and the individuals employed there.
Understand Learning Styles
There’s still a lot for us to learn when it comes to learning styles. Educators and trainers still debate about which learning styles are “real,” and which are something else entirely.
Still, we all understand that we learn differently from each other, and there are modes in which we learn better than others. For example, some of us learn better by reading. Others, by listening to lectures. Educational philosopher John Dewey understood that many of us “learn by doing.”
As you work through the sorts of courses you’ll offer, take time to consider the learning styles they use, and deliberately target multiple learning styles. In other words, find courses that have the same learning objectives, but approach instruction in different ways. That way, you can match each employee with the style they find most powerful.
There are numerous online tests that help people discover which learning style works best for them. Encourage employees to self-evaluate and work through the tests; they may be surprised to find out they don’t really learn the way they thought.
Understand, too, that some people excel at learning by using more than one approach, so organize your training accordingly. You’ll find the concept of Multiple Intelligences useful here. In short, psychologist Howard Gardner has theorized that each one of us excel in a few different modalities of learning. According to him, those intelligences are:
- Naturalist (nature smart)
- Musical (sound smart)
- Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
- Existential (life smart)
- Interpersonal (people smart)
- Bodily-kinesthetic (body smart)
- Linguistic (word smart)
- Intra-personal (self smart)
- Spatial (picture smart)
Once again, you’ll find any number of online quizzes that will help your workforce identify which of the Multiple Intelligences they most identify with. The key will be to take into account the members of your staff’s individual learning styles and preferred modalities as you plan the training courses you’ll provide. Seek variety, and let employees make choices that suit them from a menu of options.
Consider Delivery Options
Speaking of options, you must also consider the potentially varied ways content might be delivered.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many training companies transitioned to online-only training courses. These courses may have been offered in an asynchronous fashion, meaning that access to the content was not time-dependent and students could work on material at the time that worked best for them, or in a real-time delivery system, making use of technology like Skype or Zoom to bring everyone together, at least in a virtual sense.
Now that businesses affected by the pandemic are making a move toward normalcy, you can expect to see training companies do the same and begin offering opportunities for face-to-face learning once again.
This could present a situation where human resource professionals are given the chance to choose between traditional content delivery and virtual instruction. It’s still unclear which pandemic-inspired changes will remain permanent. The main concern you should have is finding delivery options that best match the educational objectives you and your management team have established, and as best you can, find delivery options that take into account the learning styles of your workforce.
Evaluate the Commitment You Expect From Employees
While planning which corporate training courses to provide to your employees, be honest and transparent in the commitment you expect employees to make to the training. Even if time is given during work hours to complete training exercises, consider the day-to-day responsibilities your workers still have. Having too much on their plates can potentially cause stress to your people, which can impact productivity, as well as the efficacy of your training.
Establish – and broadcast – expectations for time spent training, courses completed and overall success rates for your training program. Make sure your decisions on course offerings provide opportunity for your employees to meet these expectations.
This part of the process will need to be undertaken in partnership with your employees, so expect to solicit feedback and encourage negotiation. Once the employees’ commitment has been established, you can begin to explore the sort of commitment the company will make.
Evaluate the Commitment You Expect From the Company
The company’s commitment will be reflected in the tangible ways the company supports training successes. Paid time off – either to complete training or as a reward for completion – salary increases, bonuses and advancement opportunities are all ways a company can make their commitment to continued workforce development visible.
As a human resource manager, you should advocate for a program that fairly assigns value to the courses you elect to provide and transparently rewards success in training.
That means you’d be best-served by providing course options that have measurable deliverables that take the guesswork out of assigning success to the workers’ training efforts.
It’s a common saying in education and training circles: “What gets measured gets done.” Commit to measuring the success your employees have in training and reward that success, and you’ll find more employees seeking more training, and doing better at it, than ever before. That’s good for your people, and good for business.
Potential Course Offerings
Finally, let’s consider what courses might work within this planning framework.
Nearly every business can benefit from training that incorporates soft skills. Focus on communication courses that emphasize the challenges and benefits of communicating in a diverse environment. Additionally, courses that discuss workplace harassment, like this one, can be an effective way of having a conversation about an uncomfortable topic.
When it comes to hard skills, it’s difficult to make recommendations that suit every business’ needs. But look closely at your latest equipment and technology additions; chances are, more training in these will be useful. Maybe even more valuable will be courses aimed at the next technological advance that you’re looking to implement. Ask the experts in your company what’s on the horizon, and seek training opportunities that take those into account.
Making The Right Corporate Training Choices
Choosing the right training courses to offer your employees can be a challenge, but establishing a process for selection can make the decision easier. Follow the suggestions above and partner with your workforce to select courses that meet the needs of all the stakeholders involved.
You’ll be able to brag about your training program, and that will attract employees with a passion for learning. That’s a benefit to any business, in any field.
KnowledgeCity is proud to offer a number of free courses that can jumpstart your corporate training efforts. Simply click here to see what’s available. You’re sure to find something that matches your educational goals.
Good and helpful..