Align your employee training strategy with the strategy of your business

Business leaders know that it’s critical to see how important employee learning and development is to their organization. What they may not know is that the days of 40-hour classes are gone. The one-size-fits-all approach to learning is being scrapped in favor of new ways of training.

The benefits are many: higher morale, productivity and profit, to name a few. Employees are likely to be better equipped to adjust to changes and challenges.

“Training used to be the first thing cut from the budget,” says Beth Thomas, executive vice president and managing director of Consulting Services for Sequent. “Now if you can show the value it has in alignment to the business goals, it should be the last thing cut from the budget.”

Smart Business spoke with Thomas about new ways to train employees through prescriptive approaches.

What is the workforce looking for regarding development?

Millennials are coming to work looking for development even more than compensation. They want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’ or ‘How are you going to get me to the next level?’ They are interested in growing their career, but it is a two-way street. It is not just that the organization has that responsibility. The employee does as well.

It’s critical to maximize the on-the-job experiences and create a learning culture where development is expected and mentorships are offered for which leaders and managers understand how to teach and coach employees.

What is a prescriptive approach to employee training and development?

It is targeting training based on what the business needs and what each employee needs.

To get to this point, the company performs an assessment to get an understanding of what the organization actually requires, particularly to determine how the employees learn best.

People want to learn lessons from short snippets of business scenarios that they can apply immediately. They want to be trained on the job in an informal way through storytelling, coaching and gamification — learning through goal-oriented games that entertain as they train.

How effective for most employees is this type of training?

Many people I have interviewed said the best learning they have had was not from a classroom; it was from stretch assignments that push people beyond their current skill set.

These types of assignments, combined with succinct training tools, lead to higher application rates.

An example is the use of mobile devices for learning. With mobile technology on the floor through a tablet or smartphone, employees can implement new learning immediately. This allows for in-the-moment customized training, providing consistency, better retention and metrics that help ensure ROI.

How does a company invent a new training process?

When an organization is looking to create, turn around or customize its learning strategy, it has to do an assessment. It needs a broad-based survey as well as interviews with key stakeholders, highly motivated talent, people who are early in their career all the way to those tenured to determine what development is needed for the current talent pool.

This would help the talent move the business forward based on the company goals and to decide how to help employees grow their careers.

By developing your employees, it will help recruit, retain and prepare your talent and your bench strength in order to support your business for increased profitability.

It is so critical for organizations to get this right. Not only will it help recruit better talent, it will also help keep talent and develop those with high potential to the next level.

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