Developing and training your staff should be one of your top priorities. The threat of AI automating and replacing some job functions means there is now more pressure on businesses to train staff. According to a World Economic Forum report, more than half of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling in just three years due to evolving technology, demands and the nature of work.

In order to pipeline for the future, employers are leaning towards re-designing jobs using existing staff than the costly and time-consuming exercise of hiring new staff. However, training should mean more than this. Keeping your workforce fully trained not only ensures they have up-to-date current skills and knowledge, but it also demonstrates your commitment to them – boosting retention.

Training needs no longer be a one-off annual workshop (which is soon forgotten) or purely a tick-box exercise. There are numerous options and ways in which you can keep your staff learning and developing continually.

Here are five ways you can make sure your training scheme is a success:

1. Start with an audit

In order to understand what training your team needs, you need to understand where the gaps lie. Take into account what they should know, and where you would like them to be ideally. Assessing the overall picture will give you a great starting point, rather than sending individuals off on random training courses, you gain a bird’s eye view of how skilled your staff are, and where you can go next. A staff survey is an excellent way to gauge the development needs of your workforce. You can use it to find out where they see their skills lie, and where they would like to take them. Use the results to set up a strategic programme. Read our guide to staff surveys for tips on how to use them.

2. Set goals

Once you have identified where the gaps lie, you can then set the goals (with timescales) on where your staff need to get to. This will help you to understand what type of training they will need, and for how long. Tie in the training with their performance development review or appraisal so that they can see the path that is mapped out for them as your employee. Be sure to review along the way and don’t be afraid to change direction if one approach is not suitable or not working.

3. Explore different types of learning

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to training. Each staff member may prefer to learn in different ways. Luckily, there are many options available so you should be able to tailor training plans to the staff individually. Do they prefer online / distance learning or would they like to attend a session in person? Do some of the training needs overlap? Can you combine some of the training to save on cost?

Just some of the trends in workplace learning to be aware of are:

  • Gamification

Although not a new concept, gamification has been a buzz-word in learning and development this year. Some believe the hype will die down, whilst others see it as the future of learning. It is driven by the concept that employees will be motivated by online rewards (such as leader boards, badges and the general competition against colleagues).

This method of training is seen as particularly useful for the younger generation of workers, typically classed as having shorter attention spans and an appetite for technology.

  • Virtual reality

For some sectors, particularly healthcare, the use of virtual reality in training scenarios can be extremely useful. Think of care workers and nurses using the VR set-up to allow them to step into the place of a dementia sufferer to truly understand how their patients experience life.

  • AI

The use of AI in predicting the training needs of staff (based on their experience and past behaviour) is also on the rise. This can help to create personalised, automated paths for learners. Likewise, AI can be used to teach staff soft skills (see below), to overcome the fear of public speaking, communicating with colleagues and First Aid training.

  • Soft skills training

A LinkedIn report from 2016 identified that soft skills are the number one training priority among CEOs, with communication at the top of the list. With an emerging workforce well equipped with tech knowledge and skills comes the issue of a lack of soft skills.

  • Mentoring / employee-led training

Many businesses are realising the value in using the existing experience and expertise in the company to train others. Mentoring or buddying staff is nothing new, but can be an extremely valuable resource where both parties will benefit from cross-mentoring (learning from each other’s very different experiences). There has also been a rise in employee-led training whereby staff design their own plans, motivating them and helping them shape their own career path within the business.

4. Train continually & accessibly

A recent LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report revealed the top challenge for learning and development was lack of time. Finding the time for training is a challenge in itself. Therefore, continuous training in chunks, and from the phone or desktop, which fits in with schedules may work better, depending on your business.

What’s more, a Raconteur report found that just 15% of the global workforce are engaged in their jobs (Source: Gallop). By providing continuous and accessible training and development opportunities you will boost engagement.

5. Use your training scheme as a recruitment tool

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report “people now rate the opportunity to learn as among their top reasons for taking a job.” A robust and innovative training and development programme should be a massive selling point for your business. Include it within your job advertisement, job description and during the interview process. Gather testimonials from existing staff on your training and promote them. Shout about your successes and what you can do differently.

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