Career development and continued training rank near the top of almost every poll that cites employment desires and expectations. A 2018 report on workforce activity shows that 40 percent of departing employees list lack of career development as a dissatisfying factor in their job, and according to a Gallup study, 87 percent of millennials say that professional training and career growth are very important. So not only is training important for performance and productivity, it’s also important in attracting and retaining talent.
So as you update and rework your training program to move remote, make sure to put an emphasis on training as part of the company culture. Show your employees that you are invested in their futures as well as their present performance—it’s a win-win for both employer and employee!
Below are some things each group within the company can do to help build and foster a learning culture.
Human Resources / Learning & Development
Make Learning Visible and Accessible
Employees shouldn’t have to go digging for professional development. You’ve put in a lot of time, money, and effort into the creation and delivery of the content, so make it accessible! One of the biggest mistakes a training department can make is thinking their responsibility is to simply create the training content. Although that is a major component of providing training, it’s also important to facilitate.
All companies have some form of training resources—but where do they live? Are they original documents in a folder in someone’s office just waiting to be photocopied and handed out to a fresh group of new recruits? Do you have an eLearning course built and available but only by request?
Make sure to regularly market development opportunities and upcoming courses. Create a content library that users can browse and discover new training. If you don’t, employees will seek that information elsewhere, which could lead to improper training or even the loss of that employee as they seek the professional development they desire.
In addition to being visible, your content needs to be accessible. Training happens at different times and in different ways across your organization. Make sure that your training resources are available anytime—not just at the office or in the classroom.
Mobile learning apps like Capillary give your entire organization access to key information and just-in-time training resources anywhere, at any time. Social learning facilitates training between employees and can be successfully implemented using a messaging service like Slack or Google Hangouts. The important thing is to make sure that you are matching up your training goals with the unique strengths of potential technology solutions.
Gather Data and Establish Consistent and Honest Feedback Opportunities
One of the benefits of all these technological solutions is the ability to track user data to better understand what works and what doesn’t. If your marketing efforts are meant to drive participation in a particular course, how many people signed up? Were your efforts successful? Set up analytics to track the data you want to collect to better inform your training efforts.
But data doesn’t always tell the whole story. Make sure you’re conducting surveys and offering easy and honest lanes of communication for employee feedback. If you make feedback a natural and consistent part of employee workflows, you’ll be surprised at the kinds of honest answers and information you’ll receive.
Get Involved with Training
Congratulations! You did it. You’re a manager so you know everything.
Sure, that attitude may be a caricature, but you’d be surprised how many people in management think their training is done. With near-constant advancements in technology and new, useful ways to increase efficiency seeming to come week after week, managers need to consistently refine their skills and stay ahead of the curve. Not only will that make for a more-informed manager, but getting buy-in from upper management is one of the quickest ways to establish a learning culture across your organization. Management sets the tone for their team, so set the right one with an emphasis on making training and continued development a core value.
Link Professional Development to Company Goals
One of the best ways to keep employees engaged and informed is to clearly map out the kinds of professional development offered with potential advancement opportunities. What does a perfect sales manager look like to your organization? Catalog those skills and offer sales associates the kind of training that builds their knowledge towards those skills you’ve identified. An employee is more likely to stick around if their advancement opportunities are clearly defined and your training reflects the path to get there successfully.
A great way to show employees this is a priority is by creating specific learning plans. Meet with each individual quarterly or yearly—whatever works best—and discuss their ambitions. Get a good sense of what interests them, align it with however it best benefits your operation, and put together a personalized plan to achieve it. You’ll be surprised at how effective a concrete plan and a little bit of encouragement can be in fostering an environment for individuals to succeed.
Take Advantage of the Training Opportunities Offered
Although employees are the subject of most of the training mentioned here, there are still things employees can do to help themselves in their training and professional development. For starters, employees have to show initiative toward their own development. Think long and hard about your own interests and career goals and make a plan. Human resources can offer training, and management can help steer you in the right direction, but the onus is ultimately on you to participate in the training and advocate for yourself.
Volunteer to Teach or Mentor Your Peers & Coworkers
Social learning—or learning that happens between peers and coworkers, whether formally or informally—is a great way to not only participate in training but actively relay those skills across your team to help combat the forgetting curve and retain knowledge. After all, your coworkers are on the same team; you succeed when everyone succeeds.
A great way to show management your worth is to display your mastery by teaching others. Volunteer to mentor a new employee to help bring them up to speed. Lead a breakout professional development session with a smaller group—your team, ideally—to make sure you’re all working at the same level. Create documentation to distribute anytime someone needs extra help. There are tons of ways to participate in helping establish a learning culture, and you’ll stand out among your peers by embracing this strategy.
Training and professional development are some of the most important aspects of business development. Companies often neglect it in favor of quick wins and short-term productivity—as its returns aren’t often immediately evident—but establishing a learning culture across your organization can elevate the entire operation and ensure success as a group.