While perks like free snacks and unlimited vacation might be nice, one of the workplace benefits that provides the most job satisfaction is ongoing training. A LinkedIn study of 2,000 professionals found that those employees who spent time learning at work were 39 percent more likely to feel successful, 23 percent more ready to take on additional responsibilities, and 47 percent less likely to be stressed than their peers.
Conversely, a lack of ongoing training opportunities is a leading cause of job dissatisfaction. A 2017 study from the American Psychology Association found that a lack of opportunity for career growth or advancement was second only to low salaries as a top source of workplace stress.
Ongoing learning is key to keeping employees engaged and boosting productivity, but many companies still fail to make training a priority. The Harvard Business Journal reports that only about half of working Americans have adequate time in their workdays for training and development. And according to the 2018 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Study, two-thirds of employees say they need more training to stay up-to-date, and 40 percent say their employers haven’t offered them the necessary training opportunities or paid for upskilling.
The takeaway from these stats is clear: workers have a desire to improve and develop new skills through ongoing training, and what they need from their employers is on-demand access to relevant training materials. When employees can access learning and development resources at any time and on any device, they’re better able to fit training into their schedules— and to apply what they’ve learned to their roles in real time.
Below, we take a look at some of the types of ongoing training your company should offer to make sure employees keep learning and improving, along with a strategy you can use to make your training available on demand.
Two Critical Training Areas — Tech and Soft Skills
The 2017 workplace study from the American Psychological Association found that successfully navigating today’s ever-changing business world requires a workforce that can adapt to changing environments and acquire the skills necessary to be successful in the future. Employees need both technical skills to keep up with changing technology and processes as well as soft skills to work successfully with team members and customers.
Providing opportunities for employees to develop their technical and soft skills is one of the most important things an employer can do to build a better, more satisfied workforce.
Technical Skills Training
Technical (hard) skills include the know-how for using software and apps, coding, programming, data analysis, social media management, and more. These are essential for any employee education program, because technical skills help employees perform their jobs optimally.
Since technology is always changing, ongoing training is critical. Technical skills development programs should provide employees with demonstrations of new technology in action and give them the opportunity to put what they learn into practice.
For example, a team leader might conduct an in-office training session on a new software system their company is going to adopt and then assign team members to complete a specific task using the software. Testing out the software will help employees determine where there are still gaps in their knowledge and what questions they need to ask.
Soft Skills Training
Soft skills are personal attributes that enable employees to interact effectively, responsibly, and collaboratively with other people, including co-workers, management, and customers. Examples might include the communication and listening skills that a sales rep uses with a prospect or the dispute resolution skills a manager uses to address a workplace disagreement.
Making an investment in soft skills development can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. One study from Harvard University, Boston College, and the University of Michigan found that workers who received soft skills training were 12 percent more productive than those who did not, which led to a 256 percent net return on investment in nine months.
Topics to consider covering in soft skills training include communication skills, presentation skills, problem solving, time management, and conflict resolution.
Employee Training Program Options
Today, there is no shortage of formats in which to deliver training to employees. Methods include everything from videos to webinars to gamification. Here are a few other examples to consider:
- Mentorship Programs — Many companies’ best trainers are members of their current workforce. Employees with specific skill sets and interpersonal skills can become mentors, guiding their fellow employees to learn skills they currently need or should acquire to be considered for promotions.
- Brown Bag Lunch Training — Holding periodic sessions over the lunch hour allows companies to gather groups of employees together at a convenient time so they can gain new knowledge from internal subject-matter experts, product reps, or external consultants on specific subjects.
- Online Training Courses — These can take multiple forms, including video training series, written material and manuals, checkpoint quizzes, and gamification elements. One major benefit of providing online training is that it allows employees to access training materials from any location, at any time. Employees can review training materials at their own pace.
- Interactive Training Sessions — Many employees benefit from training that takes a hands-on, interactive format and gives them the opportunity to have small group discussions. Ways to make training interactive include asking participants open-ended questions, having participants work on a project in a group, or having participants complete a task using the knowledge that they just gained. Making your training interactive gives employees the chance to think critically and put new skills into practice.
Centralizing Ongoing Training to Make It On-Demand
When it comes to how training is delivered, the majority of employees agree that they should be able to access training materials anytime and anywhere they need it to do their jobs, and that they should be able to choose training times that fit their schedules.
One way to ensure that these needs are met is to add training materials, including video recordings of in-house training sessions, to a knowledge sharing platform. This gives employees several advantages, including easy access to training resources whenever they need them and keyword search functionality so they can find exactly what they are looking for within the knowledge base.
Training materials can take any format in knowledge sharing platforms, including video series, blog posts, handbooks, quizzes, presentations, games, and more. In fact, every form of training that takes place within a company should be documented in some format (e.g. video, audio, or slide deck) and added to the knowledge sharing platform. Even mentoring sessions, brown bag lunches, and interactive meetings are worth recording: the tacit knowledge surfaced in these sessions could be useful to employees who weren’t able to attend in person.
Preserving training materials in a knowledge sharing platform allows employees to benefit from any training that takes place anywhere in the company. That means they can learn at their own pace and identify the resources that will serve them best as they develop new skills. Not only does this help improve job satisfaction, it also helps companies improve productivity and maximize the value of their training resources.