Too many companies focus on office perks like fitness memberships or standing desks over career development. However, organizational learning has a much bigger impact on adaptability, efficiency, engagement, and retention. To meet employee expectations and boost business, leaders should consider what digital learning tools and experiences are available.
Employee experience has been of concern for years now — and for good reason. It directly impacts employee engagement, and higher engagement levels often translate into increased productivity, innovation, retention rates, revenue, and a host of other benefits. However, most companies focus much of their attention on office perks. Fitness memberships, free meals, standing desks, and childcare assistance often top the list.
While each has its merits, employee experience is actually the sum of all experiences, including that of career development. Studies have shown strong organizational learning cultures influence everything from knowledge sharing and leadership development to adaptability and efficiency. In fact, companies with strong learning cultures experience 15% higher engagement rates and 30% to 50% higher retention rates.
Learning opportunities simply benefit employers and employees alike. Besides, people want professional development these days. One study found that 68% of employees would stay at a company that upskilled them, while another 52% felt they needed to learn new skills within the next year to continue in their careers.
Being in the digital age, technology has naturally become the enabler of today’s learning and development opportunities — especially when 89% of employees want access to training anytime, anywhere. They also want to choose their training schedule (85%) and believe regular training is more important than “traditional” workplace training.
With that in mind, the question is: How do learning and development leaders go about designing the right digital learning experiences that employees seek?
- Customizable Learning Modules
Many traditional training programs don’t do much to improve employee skills, as they’re often way too basic, way too broad, and way too boring. A one-size-fits-all approach to training and development no longer works — if it ever truly worked at all. Today, employees seek learning experiences tailored to their individual needs, strengths, and education levels.
Short, focused, and interactive modules delivered through digital channels allow team members to learn at their own pace. They’re also easily customizable and ensure that training contains the most relevant and meaningful content to the skill, job, or organization. Think of it as “snackable” learning that can easily fit into almost any employee’s schedule.
More importantly, digital microlearning modules can be made easily accessible. Employees can choose when and where they learn — and in the manner they prefer (i.e., desktop, laptop, mobile phone, and so on). The flexibility and convenience will improve engagement and participation rates among the team. It’s also a lower-pressure environment for those resistant to learning.
- Gamification Training Elements
Gamification is more than simply designing training modules to mimic the games people already play — though that’s a component and increases engagement in learning new skills. Gamifying training is actually the application of all gameplay elements to the entire employee development process, much of it through digital tools.
Take something like feedback, for example. Instead of providing input at the end of a training course, gamification allows learning and development leaders to offer it throughout. It’s much like the tutorials given through almost any video game. Training prompts, so to speak, allow people to learn the basics and build on them. This helps ensure everyone is learning what they need to during each session and can help employees digest more complex concepts.
Learning can also be gamified. For instance, employees can learn and earn with Audo. The same can be said for deadlines or training courses. Try awarding employees as they complete each section and advance in the “game.” If an organization needed to hit certain KPIs, for example, learning and development leaders could create a digital leaderboard to track progress. A little healthy competition can do teams some good, and the gamification options are almost endless.
- Development via Simulation
Simulation is a form of employee training and development gaining popularity in even the most traditional workplaces, where work-related situations are used to impart practical knowledge and develop job-specific skills among employees. Rather than a static piece of content, individuals interact with an application — sometimes the written word, other times digital scenarios. It all depends on the type of training.
For onboarding purposes, a company may choose to simulate some of the most common day-to-day challenges customer service reps run into that require a little more finesse. In that same vein, an organization could pair GPS with a mobile device to deliver training content based on a team member’s location in the building. Manufacturing, for instance, might opt to go this route — that, or to all companies to familiarize new workers with other divisions in operations.
With all the digital tools now available, learning and development leaders are doing teams a disservice by not utilizing at least a few of them. Take the time to review what’s available, and then determine which options make the most sense. It’s as simple as that.
Written by Milan Kordestani.
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