How can you create a culture of learning that inspires growth in a hybrid work environment? Check these ideas on the TalentCulture blog

Learning Culture: Ideas for Nurturing Growth in a Hybrid Work Environment

TalentCulture Content Impact Award Winner - 2023
At what point in a career does learning stop? Hopefully, never! Most business and technical professionals realize that becoming proficient in a job and becoming more capable over time requires continuous learning. But this can be difficult for employers to support, particularly in a hybrid work environment. Here’s why…

The Business Challenge

According to research, 70% of employees feel inadequately trained for their current job. What’s more, 74% feel they could benefit from additional training. Yet, the U.S. economy loses an estimated $550 billion a year from workforce disengagement, due in part to a lack of learning opportunities.

Training is critical for employee retention. And retention is critical for organizational success, especially in difficult economic times when companies need to accomplish more with less. But in the wake of the pandemic, hybrid work is becoming more widespread, which further complicates employee development. It’s no longer enough to rely on classic learning strategies based on in-person classroom training, seminars, and conferences.

Although hybrid work creates new challenges for employee training, it also opens the door to fresh thinking. Effective training in a hybrid work environment requires an organization-wide learning culture that ensures equitable opportunities for in-person, remote, and hybrid workers, alike. That’s a tall order, but these ideas can help:

What is a Learning Culture?

“Learning culture” is a simple concept. It’s an understanding that professional growth and development are integral to daily work life and success. It’s also an active commitment to continuous improvement among individuals and teams within an organization.

A strong learning culture encourages and rewards people for developing and sharing knowledge and skills. That’s why employee training is often seen as a benefit, alongside retirement savings accounts, paid family leave, or medical and dental coverage. But a true learning culture isn’t just a perk. It’s a way of thinking and doing that enhances work experiences, while paving the way for future advancement.

This commitment is clearly good for employees — but it’s also good for business. In fact, statistics show that organizations with a strong learning culture enjoy 24% higher profit margins, on average. Also successful companies are nearly 5x more likely to have a healthy learning culture. So it’s worth the effort to improve the way your organization develops employee capabilities.

Despite the simplicity of this concept, a learning culture can be difficult to manage. In fact, ATD estimates that only 31% of organizations have a culture of learning. And now, as hybrid work environments take hold, fostering this kind of culture is becoming even tougher. Why?

The Social Learning Hurdle

Hybrid work complicates learning cultures because it introduces a different mode of remote engagement. This is a problem because many organizations still rely on more traditional methods of informal learning — what psychologist Albert Bandura called “social learning.” Specifically, he notes:

“Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling. From observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed. This coded information serves as a guide for action.”

In other words, we learn how to do our jobs largely by watching others perform similar tasks. As we watch, we pay attention to their expectations and responses, as well as the behaviors of others in our environment.

This is relatively easy to accomplish when people are located at the same place. But when work involves a mix of in-person, remote and hybrid experiences, social learning manifests itself in different ways. This can create problems — especially when our location is determined by factors like commute distance or personal preference, rather than our work role. Ultimately, these unpredictable work patterns can lead to social learning barriers and disconnects across an organization.

To attract and retain top talent, employers need to create a cohesive culture that overcomes these barriers by making continuous learning opportunities and reinforcement available wherever people are located.

Training Resources For Hybrid Work Settings

Bandura was clearly on to something with his social learning theory. Humans are social animals. We learn best from exposure to great teachers, whether they’re formal instructors, informal mentors, or peers. Keep this in mind when developing a training strategy for any hybrid environment. You don’t want to sacrifice the power of human interaction by focusing solely on classic modes of online learning, like asynchronous self-guided training modules. Otherwise you risk disconnecting people from one another.

Where should you focus instead? Hybrid is the keyword here. Invest in next-generation training experiences that bring in-office and remote workers together, with social learning as the glue. For example, consider these resources:

1. e-Learning platforms that support instructor-led breakout sessions, advanced gamification functionality, and in-training assessment and analysis. These capabilities support richer social experiences than isolated on-demand training modules.

2. VR and metaverse technologies that make it possible to create three-dimensional virtual spaces where social learning participants can engage within a shared digital environment.

3. Tools that enhance popular web meeting tools. For example, the Adobe Connect open architecture lets industry partners extend the platform’s core capabilities. Extensions include custom pods, learning management system integration, advanced authentication, login functionality, and much more.

4. Discussion and collaboration tools that function as standalone products or as features you can integrate into a learning management system.

5. Social tools that work within a digital learning environment to supplement and reinforce traditional onsite and online training. For example, Adobe Learning Manager offers built-in social learning tools that make it easy to informally share ideas, content and meaningful insights before, during or after people complete a course.

Supporting Learning Engagement in a Hybrid Work Environment

Of course, identifying helpful hybrid learning tools is one thing, but providing a culture that drives engagement and performance improvement is another. Here are some useful ideas:

1. Proactively encourage all team members to pursue learning opportunities on a regular basis. For example, allocate a particular number of hours each week to the pursuit of development goals. By making resources accessible across devices, platforms and locations, you can enable people to participate at their convenience.

2. Acknowledge and reward team members for the time and energy they invest in learning. This can take the form of financial incentives or team dinners. Even something as simple as a Slack shout-out can boost motivation when employees achieve development milestones.

3. Knowledge sharing is essential for a healthy learning culture. And when team members are rewarded for sharing knowledge, they become more invested in the learning process. So don’t overlook the deep expertise already available within your ranks. Think about how to empower individuals as subject matter experts. Establish methods for people to create, promote and recommend content, so you can get everyone more invested in collaborative learning, even across hybrid teams.

4. Measurement matters in any learning endeavor, so you can determine baseline benchmarks and track progress over time. Digital systems can automatically track training engagement, progress and completions. But you’ll want to track other metrics as well. For example, think ahead about the kind of feedback you want to gather from team discussions, post-learning quizzes, and organization-wide surveys. All of these can help you determine learning effectiveness and map the way forward.

5. Better culture starts with better conversations — especially in a hybrid work environment. That means open feedback channels are essential. What works? What doesn’t? How can your organization improve hybrid learning experiences? Be sure to involve team members in the process of planning, evaluating and evolving their learning journey, for more successful outcomes, all around.

When you train employees do you also boost retention? Find out how to make this strategy work in from FranklinCovey CEO Paul Walker on this #WorkTrends podcast

When You Train Employees, Do You Also Boost Retention?

Sponsored by FranklinCovey

If you’re involved in hiring or managing people, no one needs to tell you that competition for top talent is incredibly fierce. And keeping teams engaged and motivated is getting more difficult all the time. That’s why it pays to be especially thoughtful and strategic about how you train employees.

This isn’t just my opinion. It’s the conclusion of organizations like SHRM, which found that employees are 76% more likely to stay onboard when their organization has a dedicated process to support workforce learning and growth. Similarly, Deloitte estimates that retention is 30-50% higher among companies with a strong learning culture.

But this begs the question — exactly how can you build and sustain a learning environment that engages people so they want to stay onboard and advance your agenda? That’s the topic we’re exploring today with a brilliant business leader who is also a recognized expert in learning and development…

Meet Our Guest:  Paul Walker

I’m honored to welcome Paul Walker, President and CEO at FranklinCovey! As the company’s chief strategist and operational leader, Paul is committed to transforming organizations and enabling greatness. He actually started his career at FranklinCovey 22 years ago, and has grown and adapted along with the company. So clearly, he knows first-hand how learning and development can help retain top talent. Please join us as we explore this topic:

Connecting Learning With Retention
Welcome, Paul! Let’s dive right in. How is training tied to workforce retention?

Our work with clients and research from others tell us that training is integral to retention for several reasons:

  1. When you train employees, they feel valued because you’re investing in them. And the more valued people feel, the more likely they are to stay.
  2. It helps people perform better. We all want to do our best work everyday. If we need skills to do that, and our employer is helping us acquire those capabilities, it not only helps us do better today, but may also prepare us for something exciting in the future. Again, we feel valued.

How to Train Employees Effectively
What do people really want from work-related training?

There are probably more factors, but over and over again we see employees focusing on these things:

  1. Is it easy for me to access, so I can get the most out of it?
  2. How well does it fit into the flow of my daily work life?
  3. How relevant is it now, and will it prepare me for where I want to be in the future?
  4. Is it useful? Does it actually help me perform better?
How Can You Train Employees for Retention? Join us for a live #WorkTrends Twitter Chat - Wednesday, March 29th - 1:30-2:00pm ET. Follow @TalentCulture on Twitter for questions - and add the #WorkTrends hashtag to your tweets so others can see your comments and interact with you!

JOIN US ON TWITTER!

Choose Learning Metrics That Matter

Retention is important, but what other KPIs should we consider?

When we want to train employees, we need to be sure we’re not just advocating for retention or other objectives that may feel a bit soft to people who make budgetary and strategic decisions. These leaders don’t necessarily see how learning supports what they want to accomplish.

Instead, we need to focus on how learning improves the quality of the team’s results. That’s crucial to the organization’s performance.

We need to talk in the language Deloitte used in its research that says:

  • 92% of companies with more intentional, sophisticated learning develop more novel products and processes,
  • 56% are often first-to-market with products and services,
  • 52% are measurably more productive, and
  • 17% are more profitable.

Make It a Leadership Priority to Train Employees

Absolutely. There’s value here, and our KPIs should reflect that…

I would also say the best organizations have figured out how to ignite a passion for employee learning in their leaders. In other words, people development is a key leadership expectation, and leaders want to be involved in helping their people grow and develop. It’s not just the responsibility of HR or L&D…


For more insights from Paul about how to train employees for retention, listen to this full podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

In addition, we invite you to join our live Twitter chat about this topic on Wednesday, March 29th from 1:30-2:00pm ET. Follow us at @TalentCulture for questions and be sure to add the #WorkTrends hashtag to your tweets, so others in the community can easily find your comments and interact with you!

Also, to continue this conversation on social media anytime, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Developing entry-level talent: How to invest for success

Developing Entry-Level Talent: How to Invest for Success

Imagine you’re a hard-working entry-level employee who’s been in your current position for less than a year. Your skills are solid, but they don’t help you stand out from other entry-level talent. You know which skills could help you advance, but you’re not sure what resources are available to you or how to get support for a growth plan. You don’t see a pathway to expand your skill set. You just feel stuck.

Sadly, this isn’t unusual. But scenarios like this can have serious consequences for employee morale, mobility, and retention across an organization. For example research says:

It’s no surprise that people look elsewhere when they believe their skills aren’t seen, valued, and nurtured. But this doesn’t need to happen. As an employer, you can avoid losing entry-level employees by investing more effectively in their future with your organization.

Where Employee Development Fits In

A comprehensive professional development program is one way to demonstrate your commitment. Upskilling, reskilling, cross-training and continuous learning practices help employees keep existing skills fresh, develop new capabilities, and expand their career potential over time.

Future-minded employers know that developing entry-level talent is not just good for employee engagement and morale. It’s also a smart business strategy because it builds “bench depth.” By encouraging employees to embrace new responsibilities and growth opportunities, you can create a more diverse internal talent pipeline that will adapt with you as your business needs change.

A commitment to developing entry-level talent also sends a powerful message from the highest levels of your organization. It tells people that every member of your workforce is important, and you’re invested in their future success.

What’s at Stake for Employers

Organizations that invest in entry-level talent realize significant benefits:

1. Higher ROI

When you’re facing workforce skill gaps, recruiting qualified talent may seem like a faster, cheaper, easier solution than employee development. But this is a short-sighted approach that doesn’t necessarily lead to a stronger team. Bringing in new talent requires multiple costly, time-consuming steps, from recruiting to interviewing to hiring. And there’s no guarantee new hires will onboard successfully and become committed contributors.

Why bet on an uncertain outcome, when you already have a team in place that you’ve worked so hard to recruit and onboard? If you spend the same amount of time and money helping existing employees grow, you’re more likely to achieve a higher return on investment.

2. Less Brain Drain

The value of institutional knowledge is also important to consider. The lower your commitment to development, the higher your turnover rate is likely to be. And as employees leave, they’ll take away “insider” intelligence about how your organization gets things done. For example, you’ll lose insight into strategies, tactics and processes that worked, as well as those that didn’t. This kind of information can make or break operational efficiency, effectiveness, cohesion, and more.

By developing entry-level talent, you can equip employees with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in your environment. Along the way, you’ll build and reinforce institutional knowledge, rather than eroding it as disenchanted employees leave.

3. Stronger Employee Value Proposition

We know people are drawn to employers that emphasize continuous professional development and growth. If your loyal workforce sees you turning to new hires instead of investing in existing employees, what should you expect to happen? Morale will sink, the desire for professional growth will vanish, and skills will stagnate. Eventually, employees will look for growth opportunities outside your organization.

Instead, why not reinvigorate your team through learning? Focus on reskilling, upskilling, and cross-skilling. It’s a more sustainable way to strengthen employee satisfaction, commitment, retention, and performance. To get started with a successful entry-level employee development program, consider these five steps:

5 Ways to Develop Entry-Level Talent

1. Establish a Reasonable Budget

Start by defining the key elements of your employee growth plan. Identify the professional development topics and skills your program should address. Any development model will involve both direct and indirect costs, and these should align with market value.

However, expenses aren’t the only consideration. You’ll also want to estimate the value of potential benefits. For example, you may choose to establish a mentorship program that pairs new hires with veteran employees. This is a relatively low-cost way to support a culture of learning, but it can lead to significant tangible results.

2. Provide Time and Resources for Employee Participation

Simply put, employees need dedicated time and support to engage in professional development. Allocate a specific number of days for this purpose — perhaps even paid time away from the office, if possible.

A little workplace flexibility goes a long way in helping talent feel valued, and giving employees choice in managing their schedules encourages accountability and self-regulation.

3. Tap Into the Power of Work Relationships

Ask entry-level employees what kind of development support they feel would be helpful. Then ask managers to co-create a roadmap with their direct reports, based on the knowledge and skills they want to develop.

Managers are likely to know how to leverage connections among team members so they can learn from one another. Research shows that these relationships matter. For example, McKinsey found that 91% of people supported by mentors are satisfied with their jobs. In addition, cohort-based learning enhances workplace communication, overall.

4. Include Team-Building Opportunities

Besides mentorship programs, consider other ways for entry-level employees to learn from teammates. Cross-departmental collaboration, for example, is an underused resource. When employees work with others and learn from one another, they can sharpen both interpersonal and job-related skills. They’re also more likely to understand the company’s inner workings and see the value in individual workplace roles.

5. Showcase Progress

For any program that demands time and energy, employees and employers alike want to see results. To reinforce the benefits of participation, plan to demonstrate how development efforts lead to professional growth, improved performance, and team success. For instance, one study of U.K. reskilling programs resulted in positive economic returns and improved morale. These are the kind of concrete results everyone appreciates.

Summary

These suggestions are intended as launching points to help you make the most of your investment in entry-level talent. With these development factors as a framework, your learning programs can make a measurable and lasting difference in workplace communication, productivity and innovation. Most importantly, this kind of investment can help you build a stronger team that will be invigorated and inspired to move forward together. Everybody wins.

How can your LMS bridge the skills gap? An expert explains how a modern learning management system can help develop essential workforce skills

How Can Your LMS Help Bridge the Skills Gap?

Sponsored by Learnsoft

The Skills Gap is Growing. So is Pressure on L&D

Demand for skilled employees seems limitless. Modern technology and automation are  displacing workers in all industries, even while creating new jobs that need to be filled. Baby Boomers are rapidly retiring, but entry-level people from younger generations haven’t yet developed enough expertise to take on these positions. And competition for skilled professionals in technology, healthcare and other specialties remains fierce.

Throughout the pandemic, HR departments felt pressure to deliver a high-performing workforce. Unfortunately, that pressure isn’t likely to ease any time soon. In fact, by 2030, talent shortages in the U.S. alone are expected to result in $162 billion in unrealized revenue. 

If these trends give you heart palpitations, I apologize. But the good news is that these pressures are causing employers to look within their organizations to bridge this skills gap. As a result, we’re seeing increased investment in upskilling and reskilling of current employees. Even so, L&D programs are not as efficient as HR and business leaders want them to be.

In part, this is because organizations are not leveraging available learning tools and resources to their full capacity. If you see this happening in your organization, how can you improve?

Let’s take a closer look at the primary types of skills gaps and how organizations are responding. Then, I’ll explain how a learning management system (LMS) can go beyond simply delivering training content to help your business address critical skills challenges.

3 Kinds of Skills Gaps: What Are They?

Skills gap” is generally used as a catch-all phrase for whatever is amiss in the employee/employer productivity relationship. But actually, there are three gaps to consider:

1. Skill Gap

Unlike the broader term, this specifically refers to intellectual or functional gaps in a person’s ability to perform a particular job effectively. For example, in healthcare this can be demonstrated by a lack of certification required to provide patient care. Or in construction, skilled laborers may need to develop proficiency with new equipment before they can use it at a job site. This differs from a knowledge gap.

2. Knowledge Gap

When employees do not know relevant information about their job or how their role fits into their department or organization, this is a knowledge gap. It can surface during onboarding – but can persist throughout an employee’s tenure. This is why hiring managers need to understand a new employee’s industry and job-specific knowledge, and then provide resources to bring that individual up-to-par as soon as possible.

3. Performance Gap

To perform well in a role, skills and knowledge are essential. However, motivation and commitment are just as important. This brings us to the performance gap – which is the disparity between an organization’s goals and an individual’s performance. This can be measured by a lack of engagement, low productivity levels, poor quality output, and other relevant metrics. These gaps can be especially detrimental, because they tend to expand over time when organizations lack tools to accurately measure key performance factors.

How Employers Are Addressing Skill Gaps

The most efficient way to accurately measure skills in an organization is with an appropriate skills management tool. For example, almost all large companies (98%, according to Training Magazine), use an LMS to manage and deliver e-learning courses and training programs.

The most-used function of an LMS is the ability to track training completions and course certifications within the learning platform. This solves some of the basic skills problems organizations face. However, the missing piece in many LMS platforms is a comprehensive and intuitive reporting capability.

For years, organizations in many industries tracked individual skills and knowledge through manual processes. In some industries, this is still managed manually.

That’s right. In 2023, organizations continue to struggle with automating and streamlining data management and reporting. Even when training is conducted online through an e-learning platform, the data is not easily transferred between applications.

I’ve worked with organizations where employees complete training online or in-person, and then a data entry specialist spends time manually extracting the completion data and copying it into an excel file. Next, they manually import the information into another HR application. This process is time consuming, inefficient and leaves room for error. But fortunately, there are better ways to manage this data-intensive business process.

An LMS Can Do More Than Deliver Content

1. Leverage Integrations

To truly maximize the benefits of an LMS, you need to integrate it with other enterprise applications and tools. By integrating your LMS with your HR ecosystem, you can streamline and automate your training processes, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance the user experience.

Your organization can track and manage L&D goals across the entire company using a single login system that connects an end user to any application within the LMS system. Users don’t need multiple logins to access the intranet, the compliance training portal, benefits and payroll, professional development courses, and so on. Instead, they’re all housed in one system – and those systems talk to each other so they can verify transferred data.

Here’s the benefit from a skills gap perspective: Because these applications work together within the HR ecosystem, you can easily identify employee reskilling and upskilling needs.

2. Support Employee Career Advancement

Understanding employee competency is essential to optimize the talent available in your workforce. This is why an LMS platform’s reporting function is just as important as its content delivery function. Job turnover is bound to happen, but how can an LMS help you more rapidly fill unexpected job openings?

L&D can quickly turn to a comprehensive reporting dashboard that identifies team members who are compliant and certified to fill a role. Intuitive reporting can make it easy to identify these qualified employees, regardless of their team or location. You can also leverage reporting to pinpoint existing skill deficits and make data-driven employee development decisions.

3. Establish Clear Paths to Success

The most important step in closing any skills gap is offering individuals opportunities to upskill through learning experiences and resources that expand their professional knowledge. Research indicates that employees agree. In fact, according to SHRM, 76% of employees are more inclined to stay at a company where continuous learning is available.

This is the strong suit of a modern LMS. It can help L&D teams work with managers to define skills benchmarks, build assessments that identify skills gaps, and determine how development can close those gaps.

You can outline specific courses employees must complete to move up in rank. Then you can communicate about these career growth opportunities and the path forward.

4. Meet Employees on Their Learning Terms

The keyword here is learning. There are many ways to distribute information. But you need to ensure that employees don’t just “acknowledge” that information. The goal is to absorb it, understand it and retain it.

A lack of learning engagement doesn’t benefit employees, and it can even put your organization at risk. For example, Corporate Compliance Insights found that 49% of survey respondents skipped or did not thoroughly listen to mandated compliance training. Imagine almost half of your workforce admitting they don’t pay attention to required learning! Sadly, this is a reality.

How can you avoid passive learning and drive engagement? Whatever content you create, it’s important to bring training directly to individuals and make sure the experience is as accessible, useful and relevant as possible. 

Be sure people have access to personalized training that best suits their needs. In some scenarios, this means face-to-face virtual training. In others, it means microlearning modules people can knock-out in 5 or 10 minutes.

Engaged learners make empowered workers. It is important to remember that people are lifelong learners. Employees need to train, retain, and show competency in their roles. This doesn’t stop when they clock-in for work. A flexible LMS can help employees train at workstation or remotely on a laptop or phone. And it should support personalized learning paths that help tailor learning to individual interests and goals. 

Your Organization Has Changed. Has Your LMS?

Addressing the skills gap means prioritizing your employees by making learning accessible, personalized and engaging. Most LMS providers require organizations to enter a multi-year contract – some up to 10 years. That’s a long time to use a platform if it doesn’t meet all your needs.

Is your LMS keeping pace with the needs of your workforce or your business? Consider these criteria of an effective LMS platform:

  • SaaS-based solution with flexibility to address diverse, changing needs
  • Integrates seamlessly with your HR ecosystem
  • A user experience that is easy for learners, instructors and administrators
  • Functionality that accommodates individual learning schedules and needs
  • Supports various content types to drive learning engagement
  • Streamlines upskilling/reskilling/cross-training efforts
  • Enables self-directed learning paths with recommendations based on job position, requirements, skills, competencies, and performance.
8 Ways to Empower Employees Through Financial Education - TalentCulture blog by contributor, Brett Farmiloe

8 Ways to Empower Employees Through Financial Education

These days, many people are dealing with stress from all kinds of personal financial concerns. This can harm workforce wellbeing — especially when people aren’t sure how to manage these issues or who they can trust for advice. That’s why organizations are increasingly offering workforce financial education.

But which strategies are most effective in helping employees develop financial literacy especially considering that everyone has a different level of financial knowledge and experience?

We asked HR superstars to share one recommendation from their employee benefits and DEI programs. Here are 7 of the best suggestions we received:

  • Offer Resources to Help Employees Make Informed Choices
  • Host Budgeting Workshops and One-on-One Coaching
  • Think in Terms of Financial Wellness
  • Be Sensitive to an Employee’s Financial Literacy Level
  • Keep Equity in Mind When Offering Resources
  • Add More Benefits Instead of Outsourcing
  • Leverage Employee Questions and Anecdotes

To learn more about how you can make these ideas work for your organization, read the full responses below…

7 Proven Ways to Boost Employee Financial Education

1. Offer Resources to Help Employees Make Informed Choices

Financial literacy is an important life skill that can have a major impact on an individual’s overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, many employees lack the financial knowledge and resources necessary to make informed decisions about their money. As a result, they may end up making poor choices. And those choices can lead to serious financial problems down the road.

However, there are steps HR leaders can take to help employees improve their financial literacy. For example, you can offer resources to help employees make informed financial decisions. This can include access to basic financial education courses, budgeting tools, and debt management assistance. 

By tapping into these resources, employees gain the knowledge and skills they need to make better money decisions, avoid future financial difficulties, and improve their overall wellbeing.

Teresha Aird, Chief Marketing Officer and HR Lead, Offices.net

 

2. Host Budgeting Workshops or One-on-One Coaching

At our company, we offer different levels of financial education and resources. We recognize that not everyone is comfortable discussing or learning about personal finance, so we want to ensure we provide various resources that cater to different needs and preferences.

For example, we provide budgeting workshops for employees who want to get a better handle on daily money management. And for those who prefer a more personal approach, we offer one-on-one financial coaching. We also provide resources on our intranet and website for employees who want to learn more about finance-related topics on their own time. 

By offering a variety of resources that address different interests, we hope to make it easier for all of our employees to understand and take control of their finances.

Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks

 

3. Think in Terms of Financial Wellness

Some organizations approach their benefits and DEI programs from a “financial wellness” perspective. Financial wellness is about much more than money management — it’s about creating a holistic, well-rounded view of one’s financial situation and health.

A financial wellness program can address people with different levels of financial literacy in several ways. One common approach is to provide employees with a variety of financial education options and resources, depending on their needs and interests. For example, employees who are just starting out may need more basic information on topics like budgeting and saving for retirement. Those who are further along in their financial journey are likely to benefit from more advanced topics like investing and estate planning.

No matter what an employee’s level of financial literacy may be, it’s important to provide them with accurate and up-to-date information. This means employers should plan to regularly review, refresh and adjust available content, courses, tools and resources.

Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer, Checkr

 

4. Be Sensitive to an Employee’s Financial Literacy Level

It is important to provide employees with the resources they need to make informed decisions about benefits and DEI programs, without forcing them to take part in activities they are not comfortable with.

One approach is to provide employees with resources that are tailored to their level of financial literacy. For example, you could offer an online course for employees who want to learn more about personal finance. Or, you could provide a list of recommended books or websites for employees who want to learn more on their own.

Another approach is to hold workshops or seminars on various financial topics. You can tailor these events to different levels of financial literacy so all employees can benefit from the information presented.

Alysha M. Campbell, Founder and CEO, CultureShift HR

 

5. Keep Equity in Mind When Offering Resources

It’s important to understand that we all start at different places in life. While this may seem like a given, many struggle with truly understanding how this applies to financial literacy. 

Specifically, many individuals from different racial backgrounds were not privy to having a mother or father to teach them the ins and outs of financial literacy. This is why equity is so important in the workplace. Equity recognizes that giving everyone the same tools or resources isn’t effective, and instead ensures that each individual has what they need to be successful. 

Keeping equity in mind when planning and managing your employee benefits offerings is one way to ensure that each employee has what they need. Resources every employer should offer include financial coaching, legal assistance, and workshops about credit, budgeting, and the importance of investing.

Tawanda Johnson, HR Leader, Sporting Smiles

 

6. Add More Benefits Instead of Outsourcing

Our employee benefits are managed through another company, so we aren’t able to decide what most of the options are. However, this past year, the benefit premiums increased. Still, the company could add more benefits to make the overall package more robust and attractive to current and new employees. Adding these incremental benefits could help offset the premium increase.

Lindsey Hight, HR Professional, Sporting Smiles

 

7. Leverage Participant Questions and Anecdotes

When addressing financial topics in DEI programs where attendees have different financial literacy levels, we want to help participants understand the benefits of concepts like retirement plans, debt management, and budgeting. Then we explain the fundamentals of these subjects.

An excellent way to explain these concepts is by welcoming questions from attendees. Then we use real-world examples to make the topics clear enough for individuals, no matter what their financial literacy level may be.

Grace He, People and Culture Director, teambuilding.com

Employee Development - 5 Flexible Approaches that Work

Employee Development: 5 Flexible Approaches That Work

Over the last three years, flexible and agile work models have been at the forefront of workplace disruption. Emboldened by work-from-home standards enforced during the pandemic, companies across numerous industries stopped requiring employees to be present at the office everyday. Now, many of these organizations are enjoying improved productivity and performance. But how does employee development fit into these new work scenarios?

Recognizing it’s time for large-scale change, more business leaders are willing to try new work methods, tools and solutions. With agility and flexibility at the heart of this ongoing workplace transformation, an increasing number of firms are now turning to flexible development strategies, so they can help members of their workforce realize their full potential.

With widespread talent shortages still posing recruitment obstacles, personal and professional development has become a strategic priority. But organizations that embed flexibility and adaptability into their development process will fare better at retaining people and equipping them for the future.

The Case for Flexible Development

Flexible employee development makes it possible to combine diverse learning methods that meet individual and organizational needs. This is gaining traction for several reasons:

1. More organizations are embracing inclusion as a core value. As a result, respect for individual needs and preferences is being reflected in business practices of all types. For development, this translates into personalized training and resources that accommodate diverse learning habits, skill requirements, and professional interests.

2. Key characteristics of the Industry 4.0 era include broader skill gaps, increasing automation, shifting workforce demographics, hybrid jobs and the rise of non-linear careers. A one-size-fits-all approach to employee development doesn’t address these factors.

Indeed, within modern work environments, rigid development paths are counterintuitive. They leave people feeling bored, disengaged, and ultimately excluded. In contrast, flexible learning options are the most effective way to enhance the value of every employee.

Ideas for Implementing Flexible Development

Over the last 12 months, we have been watching the various ways companies in different sectors are implementing flexible employee development, as well as its impact on talent acquisition, retention, and performance. Below are several noteworthy examples:

1. Design an EVP for Every Discipline

It’s easy to find companies that rely on a generic Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to recruit and retain top talent. But smart employers know this isn’t sufficient. Instead, define compelling career pathways and clearly communicate how employees actually grow and progress within your organization. Also, keep in mind that employee motivations often vary across different professional disciplines.

This was the strategy of Atom Bank – the UK’s first digital bank – during its campaign to hire more senior engineers to deliver core services. In the highly competitive tech talent market, a unique EVP enabled the business to stand out from the crowd and attract highly qualified people.

2. Build Depth Across Functional Roles

The ideal way to expand anyone’s capabilities is to challenge them to complete tasks and projects outside of their standard responsibilities. The objectives are twofold:

  • Offer experiences that help individuals add desired skills that align with their career aspirations.
  • Fill organizational talent gaps and ensure operational continuity.

In the beverage manufacturing industry, for example, Coca-Cola identified an HR staff member’s interest in manufacturing operations and created a hybrid HR/plant management role in response. The outcome was so successful, it became a catalyst for broader implementation. The company began moving more employees into different roles and establishing lines of progression for other career opportunities across the local business unit.

3. Offer Job Rotations and Stretch Assignments

Employees in similar functional areas can learn new skills by rotating jobs and tasks. This method is popular in food manufacturing. For instance, at Nomad Foods, plant managers encourage production workers to gain engineering skills so they can perform basic machine maintenance. Nomad says it not only helps people build new skills, but also improves cross-functional teamwork.

At more senior levels, stretch assignments are a highly effective way to help employees push the boundaries of their current role, so they can improve and expand their professional skills and become better prepared for next steps. In the tech industry, for example, organizations are challenging developers to step out of their comfort zone and take on project management and other client-facing responsibilities.

4. Support Academic Learning

Often, employers lose strong talent when younger workers resign to continue academic studies on a full-time basis. Employers are responding with a variety of attractive alternatives. For instance, some companies pay educational expenses for people who remain onboard. They may also reduce an employee’s work hours. And some employers are offering these options even if people are seeking qualifications that don’t directly relate to their current role.

Here’s how this is working at consumer goods retailer, Iceland. A recent job share arrangement made it possible for two staff members to work reduced hours, so one could return from maternity leave and another could continue university studies. Building flexibility like this into the employee experience demonstrates a serious commitment to employee wellbeing and ongoing development.

5. Emphasize Shared Leadership and Mutual Accountability

Shared leadership and accountability can help different divisions work together more effectively. With this approach, organizations assign common objectives to separate functions or business units, and then measure their collective impact. This enables division heads to gain important skills, knowledge, and experiences that help them become more agile leaders.

Nomad Foods firmly believes in encouraging different division heads to work together, while giving them flexibility in how they achieve mutual objectives. According to Nomad, expanding a leader’s influence in this way tends to drive employees’ overall willingness to take ownership and accountability for outcomes.

Conclusion

These examples are only some of the ways organizations are successfully introducing more flexibility into their employee development strategies. If you’re just starting to implement these methods, first try a limited test case or pilot program and evaluate its impact before committing to wide-scale change.

Regardless, it’s important to recognize that organizations are moving aggressively in this direction. So, the sooner you can identify flexible alternatives that will enhance your classic development offerings, the better.

Strategic Learning 9 ways to prepare for the future of work

9 Strategic Learning Moves to Prepare for the Future of Work

In HR circles, we talk a lot about employee development. Often, we focus on its role in improving workforce engagement and retention. But strategic learning is about much more than that.

No question, when employees have an opportunity to add new work skills to their portfolio, they become more motivated and involved in their professional growth. It may well spark a desire to stick around, earn a certificate, and aim for further advancement.

Research certainly supports this assumption. For instance, 76% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training, according to a recent survey by TalentLMS and The Society for Human Resource Management. But these days, we need to recognize the power of learning and development as a strategic business move.

The Value of Strategic Learning

Certainly, employees need the right knowledge and skills to perform well in their current roles. But are you preparing them for tomorrow? Strategic learning looks ahead and introduces new practices, approaches, technologies, and solutions that will drive business success, going forward.

The future of work is unquestionably complex. It will be transformed by automation and furthered by machine learning and AI. If people don’t have the means to evolve and expand their capabilities, we’ll all be held back as the workplace enters uncharted territory.

More Than Just New Skills

Effective learning and development is not just about helping employees acquire new skills. It’s also about embracing learning as a strategic imperative. Over the years, I’ve discussed the importance of this perspective with numerous experts. In particular, one previous conversation stands out.

In 2020, I invited Dickens Aubourg to join me for a #WorkTrends podcast interview. Dickens is a learning and development expert who, at the time, was Director of Client Learning at Paycom:

9 Ways to Elevate Your Learning Agenda

In this interview, we explored Dickens’ perspective on strategic learning — and the 9 points we covered still resonate:

1. Treat employee training as a key business strategy that integrates retraining, reskilling, and upskilling. Ultimately, the goal should be to gain and sustain a competitive advantage through workforce readiness, competence and innovation.

2. In most organizations, learning and development isn’t sufficiently supported. Nor is it defined correctly. Learning isn’t an isolated act of class attendance or content consumption. It’s actually part of the daily employee experience. A mix of ongoing formal and informal learning is essential for effective professional development and performance support — including opportunities for social and collaborative learning.

3. We need to value informal learning for bringing context and relevance to work. It’s a way to improve connection and collaboration within teams and across the workforce, in general.

4. Quantifying and recognizing both formal and informal learning creates experiences that help leaders drive meaningful business impact and results.

5. The shift to remote and hybrid work enables organizations to more easily develop people from within. This is critical in modern work environments.

6. HR products and platforms that focus on learning will be an increasingly important component of the HR tech ecosystem. We won’t be separating learning from other people functions, nor should we.

7. It’s important to remember that, while training is not the only form of learning, it is central to employee development. Training on new tools and processes can be woven into an overall learning program that offers other development opportunities, giving employees a sense of growth and accomplishment, as well as the potential to reach new horizons.

8. Leaders will benefit from a better understanding of upskilling. The best way to do that? Start upskilling high-level managers and others in leadership positions. Ask them to identify gaps in their capabilities and offer pathways for professional growth. Targeting only lower-level employees for upskilling isn’t fair, and it’s actually short-sighted.

9. Continuous learning breeds a more nimble, agile workforce, which is what the new world of work requires. Organizations are constantly incorporating new technology and tools. We saw it during the pandemic, but it’s accelerating now. Individuals and teams must keep pace. A culture of learning supports this.

Top Takeaway: Strategic Learning is About Optimism

Employers can no longer afford to hold back on training, development, educational resources, and a commitment to workforce learning. Not only does strategic learning contribute to HR goals, but it also is essential in helping organizations achieve key business objectives. So, for individuals and employers, alike, this means learning is an act of optimism.

I’ve witnessed this firsthand recently at partner companies that are turning to new approaches and processes for growth and improvement. And as a result, they’re thriving.

So here’s the lesson: Tapping into everyone’s potential for growth is not just wishful thinking. It’s an opportunity to strengthen the employee experience and improve performance, while advancing your business agenda. The sum total? We all win.

How to build a learning culture from the ground up - talentculture

How to Build a Learning Culture From the Ground Up

The great resignation, the rise of hybrid work, and the fear of recession are making one thing certain — today’s talent must be agile and adapt quickly. A culture of learning is vital now because it helps organizations thrive when moving through change. But this kind of culture doesn’t happen spontaneously. It requires intentional effort. This article offers guidance for leaders who need to build a culture of learning that will stand the test of time.

What is a Learning Culture?

Culture is the combination of beliefs and values that drive organizational behavior. In other words, “how stuff gets done around here.” When you center beliefs and values on behaviors that encourage continuous growth and development, you can create a foundation for ongoing innovation and improvement.

A strong learning culture encourages and rewards both individual and organizational growth. It takes time and dedication to build a learning culture, but the outcomes can be transformational. What else does this process require? Focus on these factors:

8 Steps to Build a Learning Culture

1. Plan Effectively

Start by assessing your organization’s recruiting and hiring practices to be sure you’re attracting talent with a growth mindset. This should include a careful analysis of your onboarding process. Do you emphasize the importance of learning? Onboarding often focuses on what employees need to learn. But new employees also need to know who they should learn from and with.

Also, examine your approach to upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling current employees. This will give you better insight into how prepared your organization is to support future needs. 

Use these findings to plan for retention. Keeping employees onboard is critical now. According to The New York Times, “The rise in turnover since the pandemic started has a cost in productivity: It’s taking longer to get stuff out the door.”

Meanwhile, the talent pool remains limited. Currently, for every person seeking a job, 1.7  positions are available. In today’s competitive environment, employers can’t afford to lose top talent. And one of the most powerful ways to keep people committed is through a culture that supports learning and growth.

In a recent report about what we call Work 3.0, we explain how some talent models are more effective than others at achieving these outcomes. For example, organizations with remote and hybrid work models must be careful to ensure that learning opportunities are inclusive and equitable.

Smart leaders rely on the planning process to guide their decisions about learning priorities. This includes careful data gathering and analysis to verify the organization’s current state, define its future goals, and establish a strategic roadmap to bridge this gap. 

2. Ensure a Receptive Environment

Successful learning cultures begin with psychological safety. In a workplace where this is high, people feel comfortable asking questions, voicing their opinions, and taking responsibility for their mistakes.

In fact, after studying nearly 300 leaders over 2.5 years, we found that teams with high degrees of psychological safety had higher performance outcomes and lower interpersonal conflict. This kind of environment encourages employees to learn more fully from their mistakes and from one another.

3. Align Learning With Business Imperatives

What matters most to your organization? This should inform your culture. The most effective learning strategies align with business priorities. Alignment helps scale learning while keeping it relevant, meaningful, and applicable.

Environments that welcome open, honest discussions (including respectful disagreements) are more likely to align learning with the organization’s vision, mission, and goals.

You’ll want to emphasize opportunities to develop mindsets and behaviors that move your agenda forward. This should include incentives and rewards for employees who embrace desired growth.

4. Model the Change You Want to See

It’s essential to recognize continuous learning as a key to better business results. Because culture is shaped by leadership behavior, it’s critical to exhibit the actions you want to see in others. Leaders who exhibit an interest in learning and in rewarding others for their growth will inspire employees to focus on these activities.

Leaders play a significant role here by communicating expectations and modeling behaviors they want to see. For example, it’s important to regularly express curiosity, offer feedback, admit mistakes, and share knowledge.

Effective communication and storytelling by leaders can also help your workforce understand what’s expected and why it’s important for everyone in your culture. This includes engaging in authentic conversations, sharing personal learning experiences, and proactively seeking feedback.

5. Integrate Accessibility Into the Process

It’s vital to scale development opportunities so learning is accessible to everyone, not just high-potential individuals. This is particularly important in today’s environment, where employees don’t necessarily work onsite in a central location.

To improve accessibility, offer development through a variety of modalities. This can include a mix of formal in-person training, virtual courses, asynchronous informal learning, micro-learning, experiential learning, self-paced e-learning content, as well as social and collaborative learning options.

Offering a library of resources can also help keep workforce knowledge and skills up-to-date. For example, you can provide resources such as books, articles, podcasts, and videos through a central digital repository.

A learning management system (LMS) or learning experience platform (LXP) with enterprise licensing can help you scale this kind of learning content. This also makes it possible to track consumption and tie learning to individual and team performance.

6. Invest in the Right Tools and Support

A strong learning culture naturally emerges when development becomes integrated into daily work habits. Leaders can play an important role here, by regularly encouraging staff to devote sufficient time to absorb, practice, share, and apply whatever they learn.

One standard is based on the 70-20-10 rule: This approach suggests that 70% of learning comes from working through challenging assignments and experiences, while 20% comes from developmental relationships, and 10% from formal training and coursework. The process is reinforced when employees take time to reflect on their learning endeavors. You can support this reinforcement phase through mentoring as well as “reverse mentoring.

7. Customize Appropriately

Today’s employees — especially those in remote and hybrid work settings — prefer development opportunities tailored to their needs. When considering how to elevate your learning culture, be sure to ask employees what they want to learn and how they prefer to engage in learning. Then consider how to provide “core” learning opportunities for all, combined with various options that any individual can pursue. 

Ideally, a customized approach delivers learning experiences that address each employee’s unique needs and interests over time. Research shows that offering various delivery methods tends to boost learner engagement and knowledge retention. Ultimately, that can improve job performance, satisfaction, and commitment.

8. Measure Effectively

Finally, plan to measure your progress and use that intelligence to improve on a continuous basis. 

Formal evaluations can help you track trends, learn from the data, and adjust accordingly. Less formal options, such as the agile review methodology of, “Liked, Lacked, Learned, Longed For” can give you immediate feedback while also changing mindsets.

Strive to make after-action reviews a natural part of work routines. Regularly ask for feedback and use pulse surveys. Also, don’t forget to establish metrics that help you determine how well leaders are advancing the overall learning agenda.

Conclusion

When you build a learning culture, you’ll see how all of these elements are interconnected. If the atmosphere is hostile or complacent, or if content isn’t accessible to all, your mission is likely to fail. If you don’t understand your objectives, measuring progress will be impossible.

Recognize that changing any aspect of an organization’s culture is easier said than done. Progress takes time, patience, support, and persistence — especially from leaders and managers. To secure buy-in, tie improvement metrics to each leader’s performance objectives. Also, to keep learning top-of-mind, publicly celebrate early wins, and keep the cadence rolling.

Eventually, any organization can lead with learning. But it won’t happen until you invest in thoughtful planning and consistent implementation. Remember, it’s a process.

Should You Cut Your Learning Budget During a Business Downturn?

Should You Cut Your Learning Budget in a Downturn?

At some point, every organization will face an economic downturn. It could be a global recession or a serious slump in one of the industries you serve. Regardless, too many organizations jump to the wrong conclusions too quickly. They slash investment in employee development to save on variable expenses. But cutting a learning budget in haste can lead to much more severe business damage over time.

That’s why smart leaders embrace a long-term growth mindset before, during, and after a downturn. It’s why they double down on developing their people, even when times are tough. And as a result, these organizations don’t just survive. They thrive.

Learning: Strength in a Downturn

Wondering how some businesses actually flourish during difficult economic times? Take a look at the research. During the recessions of 1980, 1990, and 2000, a small minority of companies (9%) showed strong performance. In fact, they outperformed competitors by at least 10% in sales and profit growth.

What was their secret? In part, they invested in helping employees make better-informed decisions, improve their responsiveness, and adapt more quickly. What was the common denominator beneath these improvements? Learning. People needed the right knowledge and skills to pursue new roles, embrace new tasks, work more resourcefully, and make more effective decisions.

That’s why organizational learning is critical during a downturn. Yet ironically, L&D is often among the first departments that suffer when budgets are cut. It’s time for learning leaders to challenge this practice. Because employee development is not just a nice-to-have option when times are good. It is actually a powerful way to increase productivity, retention, and competitiveness — especially during uncertain economic times.

Flip Your Perspective

A downturn often brings uncertainty and fear. But seeing it instead as an opportunity for growth and differentiation can help your organization position itself as a market leader when recovery eventually comes. Preserving your learning investment can help your people do exactly that. If you cut back your learning budget now, you will hinder your future success.

I might be preaching to the L&D choir. But this is a vital message to spread far and wide across your senior stakeholders. Why? Chances are, the learning budget has already been slashed in each of your competitors’ organizations. If so, you can plant seeds now that can eventually grow into a competitive advantage.

Build the Case for a Sustained Learning Budget

To communicate effectively with executive stakeholders and colleagues, focus on understanding their unique priorities, fears, and challenges. For example, issues that matter to your CFO won’t necessarily be what keeps your CHRO up at night.

Department heads can be a goldmine of insight into high-priority projects, as well as the skills needed for successful outcomes. Partnering with these leaders increases buy-in. And with more voices supporting you, the less likely your learning budget will be cut.

Internal partners can also help you define learning programs that will have a deeper impact on your business. For example, when Capital One implemented a new cloud-based digital transformation, senior learning leadership worked closely with the CIO to define and develop required skills, assignments, and content.

Align Learning With Business Success Metrics

During a downturn, leaders are laser-focused on return on investment (ROI). To avoid seeing your budget hit the cutting room floor, L&D should focus on business metrics that show how learning contributes to the top and bottom line. When you show evidence that learning boosts performance, productivity, and operational efficiency, your C-Suite will think twice about trimming your funding.

Again, partnering with other departments can help uncover relevant data that may not be available in your learning system. For instance, you could link learning behavior with business data such as sales leads, onboarding time, or customer satisfaction scores.

The more directly you tie learning content and consumption patterns with business readiness and productivity metrics, the better. It’s even better if you can prove your learning strategy delivers a tangible business impact at a lower cost than a legacy learning system or process.

Make Every Dollar Count

Ericsson is a good example of this strategy in action. When investing in a new online learning system, the L&D team found that course completions rose by 62%, while the cost of operating the learning technology ecosystem fell by half.

At the same time, business units saw a 41% increase in ethical practices, with 97% of employees completing new anti-corruption training within two months of launch. This was a month faster than previous campaigns with higher completion rates.

In addition, the L&D team discovered that the number of workers who learned Ericsson’s five company-critical skills (5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning, collaboration, sales, and automation) increased by 14%.

Address Employee Uncertainty

A final point you can make to your C-Suite involves the human aspect of thriving in a recession. Make no mistake, your people are feeling very vulnerable right now. If they think their jobs and livelihoods are at risk, they cannot do their best work.

People may need to expand their workload in the wake of hiring freezes or layoffs. They may need to switch to another role, team, or project to keep your business operating smoothly. Or, they may have extra capacity when a project is canceled or delayed.

All of these situations affect employee wellbeing and performance, especially if people don’t feel equipped to perform well. In fact, nearly 60% of workers say a lack of confidence in their skills makes their job more stressful, and nearly 40% believe their mental health suffers as a result.

Offering a tailored learning plan with clear career growth opportunities that extend beyond the immediate downturn can have a huge influence on an employee’s perception of job security.

The Marketplace Values Skilled People

Companies that treat their people well during a downturn are building lasting loyalty and a strong employer brand that can pay off over time. For L&D, actions you take now to preserve your learning budget can directly influence your organization’s ability to attract and retain talent in the future.

This is also a strong confidence signal to those outside of your company. It shows prospective customers, analysts, influencers, and investors that you understand this is just a moment in your business lifecycle, and that you’re preparing your workforce for the inevitable upturn.

After all, if your people aren’t prepared with the right skills when the opportunity arises, your business won’t be able to seize the day. In fact, if you wait to upskill your people when a recovery begins, you’ll be too late. Others who invested in learning during the downturn will lead.

Grow Now, Lead Later

Historically, some of the most innovative and inspiring businesses continued to grow during downturns because their leaders understood that opportunities don’t necessarily come during good times. Tough times present challenges that can force you to rethink processes, reskill your people, and develop a competitive edge while other companies may pause.

Learning is crucial in all economic climates, but especially in uncertainty. Skills are the building blocks for your future. You don’t want to cut back on them and find yourself without a springboard to success when the going gets better. For the kind of business impact that will stand the test of time, resist the temptation to cut your learning budget. Instead, double down — the sooner the better.

What is skillability - and why is it so important for future-minded organizations?

Skillability: Will It Solve the Talent Crunch?

The current talent market poses numerous challenges for leaders and employees, alike. Perhaps the most disruptive force redefining the post-pandemic business landscape is persistently high employee turnover. This Great Reshuffle” demonstrates just how quickly teams can change—even beyond the pandemic shift to remote work.

A New Business Necessity: Skillability

This fluid employment environment brings good news and bad. Employees are welcoming it as an opportunity to advance their careers. But among employers, it has given rise to the practice of talent poaching. Global companies are proactively pursuing candidates from all over the world, culling the best talent away from other, smaller businesses.

And on top of this highly competitive talent market, employers are now struggling with the effects of inflation. As the cost of living continues to increase, so do demands for higher wages. And candidates are willing to hold out when employers don’t meet their salary expectations. These dynamics can make it tough to fill openings, even for high-paying, highly-skilled roles.

At the same time, employees face a volatile economic landscape that is sending conflicting messages about how to weigh the stability of an existing job against other attractive options. Today’s sky-high inflation hasn’t done employees any favors, either. Even though individuals have more bargaining power, inflation quickly eats into any wage increases gained from a job switch. As a result, economics plays a much more active role in career choices these days.

But despite all of these issues, both employers and employees can rely on one shared secret weapon. It’s something I call skillability.

The Power of Skillability

A skill is an individual’s capacity to perform a job task or function, based on existing knowledge, ability and competence. Skillability, in contrast, is an individual’s capacity to develop proficiency in an unfamiliar skill.

The faster and more efficiently someone can develop a skill, the better. So, skillability can be measured by determining the time an employee needs to develop new skills, along with the investment needed to build those skills.

Training, alone, is not enough to improve skillability. It also requires a supportive, learning-forward work environment. Together, they can nurture professional growth and create a win-win for individuals and their employers.

It’s essential for leaders to develop key workforce skills internally. This gives them new ways to support employees in their current roles, while helping them prepare for future growth within the organization. At the same time, by proactively encouraging team skillability, leaders can uncover new growth opportunities for themselves.

For example, consider technology advancements. While new technologies may promise greater operational efficiency and profitability, they also require specific skills that existing employees may lack. Employees with a high level of skillability can help companies hedge against the uncertainty of changing technology by being adaptable and agile in the face of change.

Building Skillability Within Your Organization

Skillability may sound like a trait, but the ability to develop new skills can actually be learned. It’s all in your approach to training, development, and talent acquisition. Here are just a few ideas to help your organization move forward with this strategy:

1) Consider Candidates Who May Not Fit the Mold

Candidates who lack one or more “required” proficiencies can bring a background or experience that enables them to quickly pick up new skills, duties, and responsibilities. Don’t screen out these individuals.

This approach offers several advantages. First, it opens your organization to new, often untapped talent pools. Also, it encourages the development of existing internal talent, which can drive retention and avoid the consequences of unwanted turnover.

Think about it. If you hire new employees for skillability and their desire to learn, you’re not just investing in their future, but in your organization’s future competitiveness, as well.

2) Build Achievable Benchmarks Into Training

Benchmarking is nothing new. Business leaders use it to determine the highest standards of performance. However, it can also be used for training and onboarding. Benchmarks and timelines can spur self-driven learning over a defined period.

Industrial technology provider, Emerson, relies on a powerful version of this model. It instills lifelong learning “DNA” in new employees to ensure that they will be skillable throughout their employee journey. This kind of approach indicates early on whether employees are likely to grow continually and take on new challenges as they arise. It also encourages the most enterprising employees to quickly distinguish themselves and demonstrate their skillability.

3) Break Employees Out of Their Comfort Zones

Sometimes, the most effective way to cultivate skillability is to nudge employees toward learning opportunities that push their existing boundaries and routines. This strategy is inspired by the fact that people learn more effectively when they’re somewhat uncomfortable as they explore new ways of thinking and doing things. 

Effective learning disrupts the status quo, so to speak. And overcoming these challenges has a way of encouraging people to continue pursuing learning opportunities for themselves. This means you’ll want to put employees in new situations that force them to challenge their thinking, expand their knowledge, test their abilities, and ignite their desire to grow and evolve in their careers. 

4) Establish a Supportive Environment

The climate you establish for new and existing employees is paramount to skillability’s success. It’s important to create a setting where fear is seen as an invitation to grow, rather than a signal to hold back.

Often, leaders inadvertently discourage growth in others because they fear negative consequences or they’re anxious about their own ability to grow. This can intimidate others and put a damper on skillability. One way to avoid this is for senior leaders to consistently and openly encourage all team members to develop skillability, and for the organization to reward people at all levels who step up to the challenge.

Final Thoughts

Employers can become so invested in hiring for a specific skill set that they fail to consider a candidate’s skillability. When you hire people, you’re already planning to involve them in training. So, why not broaden your talent options to include those with a stronger likelihood to learn much-needed skills in the future?

Even if you look within your ranks for employees with motivation and a commitment to continuous learning, you’re likely to find viable job candidates you might not have otherwise considered. It may only take a gentle push in the right direction and an environment that gives them the support they need to grow and succeed.

Skills Development

Skills Development: Now or Later?

Podcast Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Research from PWC shows that upskilling puts companies at a great advantage. The research found that companies realize an extra 10% to 15% of the benefit of large-scale transformation initiatives and up to 40% reduction in workloads on individual roles, as well as a 5% improvement in workforce retention when they integrate upskilling. These benefits lead to more output, opportunities to reduce cost, and higher customer satisfaction

Our Guest: Katie Ballantyne

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Katie Ballantyne, Cornerstone’s VP of Product and Customer Experience. She has years of experience achieving industry-leading employee engagement programs across organizations.

Katie Explains the already large gap we are seeing in skills development from 2020 to 2022

“Well,  from 2020 to 2022, what we’ve found out through research is that employee confidence that their employer is effectively developing their skills has gone down. And we found that the gap has grown wider. There’s now a 35 percentage point difference between that employer and employee confidence in skilling.

“What this really means, is that only about 55% of employees feel like their employer is effectively developing their skills.”

High Performing Organizations VS Low Performing Organizations

What differentiates these high-performing organizations from organizations that are just not excelling? Is it money? Type of employee? There has to be a definitive answer. Lets see what Katie thought:

“Here’s what we found out. The high performing organizations, they only had a nine percentage point skills confidence gap, whereas the laggard organizations had a 42 percentage point skill confidence gap.”

Katie goes further into the analysis:

“So what that means is that these laggard organizations, so the organizations that aren’t performing as well financially or with their customer retention, this means that only 18% of those employees feel like skilling and development is a high priority for their company. Let’s compare that in contrast to the high performing organizations, this was the only one with that nine percentage point gap, 88% of employees that these organizations feel like there is a priority in their development, in their learning, in their growth.”

The Lure of Learning Development

With a stat from 2021- Katie Explains:

“There was a survey that was done between Amazon and Gallup, it was back in 2021, and that survey uncovered that skills training is one of the top perks that people look for in their jobs. And with about 61% of the respondents in this study saying that upskilling opportunities are also important for staying at their jobs.”

How does technology play a role in the learning development process?

“People know that skilling is important, but sometimes they’re not quite sure where to start. This is big. It’s not like going and picking maybe eight competencies, which is still important and that’s still huge work to even do that and to narrow down that selection, but it can be really, really intimidating.”

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about Cornerstone and Skills Development, please visit https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/ 

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Hiring Bias

Hiring Bias – Create a Fairer Hiring Process

Bias can be a powerful factor in the recruitment process. In 2019, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, began secretly auditing some of the top companies for implicit bias in the hiring processes. Their results showed a significant bias against resumes that included candidate names likely to be associated with Black applicants. In other words, even at top-tier employers, bias appeared to be repeatedly popping up in the hiring process.

This may surprise some people who believe that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Act wiped out bias in hiring. After all, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against potential employees based on gender, race, religion, age, national origin, or disability. Nevertheless, bias in hiring is still an issue.

The Root of Bias in Hiring and Recruitment

When it comes to recruiting, bias is the brain’s subconscious way of labeling a candidate as a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” according to the recruiter’s subjective feelings about a candidate’s observable characteristics. This means that the recruiter can be biased toward or against a candidate (for example, a male recruiter preferring a male candidate), which can lead to unfair assessments. Given this understanding, it’s clear that bias can show up in almost every step of the hiring process.

Consider a recruiter reviewing dozens of applications for a job opening. The recruiter can show bias when judging candidates. Anything from gender and personal pronouns to alma maters and home addresses can spark common hiring biases. Many recruiters aren’t even aware they’re being biased because many of these judgments happen subconsciously.

Even after the resume review stage, hiring teams can again display bias during interviews. A number of studies over the years, including some from Princeton and New York University, have concluded that it takes less than a minute to form a first impression of someone. That first impression could be based on an unfair preconceived notion — related to anything from previous personal experience to common stereotypes.

For instance, a recruiter may expect candidates to be energetic and cheerful during the initial screening. Under those circumstances, a more thoughtful, serious, or reserved applicant could be removed from consideration before getting a chance to warm up to the discussion. While this immediate impression may have some truth to it, the candidate may need time to truly show what they have to offer, which may be far more beneficial to the organization in the long run.

The good news is that it’s possible to mitigate the effects bias can have on the hiring process. And it all starts with having conversations to acknowledge, understand, and address this issue.

Common Types of Hiring Bias

According to ThriveMap

  1. Affinity bias
  2. Confirmation bias
  3. Halo effect
  4. Horn effect
  5. Illusory correlation
  6. Beauty bias
  7. Conformity bias
  8. Contrast bias
  9. Non-verbal
  10. First impression

Reducing Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process

In my years in the recruitment industry, I’ve encountered some excellent, reliable ways to temper bias. Below are a few recommendations.

1. Implement an applicant tracking system.

An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a centralized platform used to streamline recruitment and consolidate candidates. A robust ATS can collect, analyze, and review hiring and recruitment data objectively, and can provide an overview of all touchpoints and data collected along the candidate’s journey. At any time, a recruiter can retrieve key information about an applicant from the system.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest benefits of an applicant tracking system is the ability to reduce bias. Certainly, recruiters can tailor candidate searches by inputting keywords such as “developer” or “Harvard.” Nevertheless, an ATS has the potential to be more impartial than most humans.

Another advantage of an automated applicant tracking system is time savings. An ATS can match up candidates with remarkable speed. At the same time, most applicant tracking systems are customizable and can integrate with other platforms such as marketing tools.

2. Remove identifiers.

Applicant tracking systems remove a lot of unconscious bias from recruiting. But, they can’t conduct interviews for you. Instead, get creative in implementing different methods to decrease the chance of discrimination before and during interviews.

One method I learned that proved successful was to scrub identifiers (such as applicant name, education, address, gender, and related fields) from every resume. As a result, your hiring committee can compare candidates on the basis of their experience — nothing else.

For example, in a previous role, I was tasked with building out the DevOps team. I presented candidates of diverse ethnicities and genders, but the hiring manager kept rejecting them no matter how technically adept they were. When I brought up the high rate of rejection, the hiring manager explained that they were only interested in bringing on male applicants of a certain ethnicity.

Though that explanation was genuinely upsetting, I suggested the method of removing identifiers from applications, and we agreed to try it. From that point forward, I presented only candidates’ qualifications, and the acceptance rate went from near zero to over 95%.

3. Involve a hiring panel.

It’s common in recruiting to conduct a final panel-style interview. This is the opportunity for the candidate to meet their potential teammates and vice versa. Someone on the call may have reservations or be impressed just based on their initial perception of the candidate. Rather than letting this bias influence the interview, let the candidate’s qualifications and cultural fit come into play.

One way to mitigate bias with panel members is to ask them to listen in on calls with candidates rather than join by video. Just listening helps panelists focus on the substance of candidates’ answers rather than their appearance.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has biases, whether they realize it or not. Rather than allowing those biases to unfairly affect the hiring process, set up guardrails to guide the process toward more equitable outcomes. You’ll end up making more appropriate hiring decisions and, ideally, improving the candidate and employee experience.

Mid-Career

Mid-Career Employees and Their Impact on The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation has not hit the world of work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rates of resignation are highest among mid-career employees. Many of these workers are leaving their jobs and fields to pursue a new career path offering better job security or greater flexibility.

Mid-career workers are attractive to companies because of their skills and life experience. Skills like leadership, problem-solving, and multitasking transfer well to new roles and often give seasoned hires an advantage over younger workers.

It’s almost as if the entry-level openings don’t exist anymore: Thirty-five percent of “entry-level” openings require years of job experience. That’s higher in skill-heavy industries like tech, with 43% of college graduates leaving school without a job lined up. This will affect us for years to come.

We must tackle the dual-pronged issue of investing in these entry-level employees while also retaining our mid-level workers. Younger, less experienced hires need a chance to enter the workforce and get learning, and mid-level employees need to feel valued and cared for within their current roles.

Growing Your Retention Rates

Company leaders need to recognize that both mid-career and entry-level employees have essential roles to play in the success of their business. If they can nurture both experience levels, they can retain and onboard successfully and simultaneously.

To start, leaders need to acknowledge the hurdles that mid-career employees face. Forty-five percent of caregivers said they had considered leaving the workforce because of personal demands on their time, while 34% said they had “lost critical skills” in the past year.

To combat this life stress, mid-career employees need flexibility and understanding. Companies must develop permanent, sustainable methods of retaining talent via flexibility, including remote work, in-office childcare, and flex time. These employees also need the opportunity to gain skills (or grow existing skills) in an accessible, low-cost way.

Helping Employees Grow Their Skills

 Eighty-nine percent of employees are willing to reskill, but too few get the chance. Providing opportunities to learn new skills and develop professionally shows the company is invested in growth. Give employees of all levels some opportunities to skill up, and they will show their worth.

Teaching your employees will lead to better engagement — 2.9 times higher engagement than employees who don’t see opportunities to learn and grow. Upskilling opportunities are also a win for your company. It allows you to move existing employees into roles that are often difficult and costly to fill.

Be a Mentor

Mentorship programs have positive effects on both mentor and mentee, so even mid-career employees who aren’t interested in upskilling can still benefit. Taking a junior employee under their wing creates a sense of loyalty among mentors, boosting retention rates. A program could increase mentees’ communication skills, community engagement, goal-setting, and a sense of purpose — even if the mentee isn’t an entry-level worker.

Furthermore, mentorship is currently underutilized. That means companies adopting mentorship programs will stand out among competitors. As a result, you’ll gain another layer of protection against poaching while also making your business stand out from the crowd.

Companies don’t need a gimmick to make it through the Great Resignation; they need to evolve alongside our changing world. Changes to how we work and train workers are necessary to make it through this event. Utilizing a mentorship program will gain more engaged employees and gain better career outcomes.

developing a training program with better ROI

Developing a Training Program With Better ROI

Despite the economic downturn, training and professional development expenses in large companies rose from an average of $17.17 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020. Similarly, small businesses also increased their investments in training by over $100,000. With so much money being spent, it would be easy to assume that companies of all sizes are seeing clear returns on their investments (ROI). Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. One study found that only 11% of employees actually end up applying the training they receive to their day-to-day work. Why is there such a disparity between spending and results? Is training at work even worth it? The answer is yes, and it’s time for companies to shift their focus to developing a training program with better ROI.

How Training Programs Fall Short

The problem isn’t with training so much as the way many organizations approach developing and implementing a training program. All too often, companies rush into these programs without reflecting on what’s really needed to support their objectives. Consequently, not enough work is done to understand the challenges employees face, how they learn best, and what sort of follow-ups are required.

As an HR leader, you must transition from implementing professional training for training’s sake to analyzing each program’s effectiveness and ROI. Even moving the needle a few percentage points could have a significant impact on employees’ success and your company’s bottom line.

Achieving Better ROI in Professional Training

Putting the focus on ROI isn’t as difficult as you might think. Actually, it just requires a little more planning before rushing into training implementation. The goal is to figure out what training methods work best for your organization and calculate the true costs of that training ahead of time.

Set up key performance indicators to measure the success of training programs. Additionally, employee assessments can be used during the training process to more accurately analyze organizational data and the benefits of training and development. The important thing is to turn training from something good in the abstract to a practical, measurable, and mutually beneficial process.

Focusing on ROI will help you create effective training strategies. With this in mind, here are a few steps that can help you focus on developing training programs with better ROI:

1. Develop an integrated education and talent management framework

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to the perfect training program, but the right framework can ensure a strategic alignment of objectives and outcomes. Select and align programs to the specific needs of your organization. If you currently have training programs that don’t fit into this new framework, cut them. Every initiative should be moving your employees in the right direction for your business.

2. Create a digital strategy.

Up to 77% of organizations in the U.S. already use e-learning. A digital approach to training is more flexible, easier to access, and more engaging. Today’s digital learning platforms incorporate a variety of different techniques to keep employees interested, including interactive quizzes, videos, and games. Tailor E-learning to each employee’s specific needs as it pertains to their position or role. Using assessments prior to training can better determine individual learners’ needs, motivations, and preferences. Far too often, the learner’s perspective is not captured when it comes to training. The right digital strategies can fix that.

3. Favor flexibility.

Training needs to adapt fast to the changing needs of consumers and the economy itself. The ability to rapidly adjust resources to serve learning needs as they arise is crucial. Locking into a top-down formal approach doesn’t accommodate this. Instead, emphasize flexibility in your content and delivery modes to stay agile.

4. Keep an eye out for silos.

Silos in training can result in duplicate programs and inefficient use of data. So, be sure to thread learning throughout the day-to-day operations of a business so it works alongside its objectives. Many training programs use what’s known as a 70:20:10 learning framework to address this. This means 70% of training occurs while working, 20% happens during collaboration, and 10% takes place through more formal means, such as classroom sessions.

You can reduce the silos that pop up by fostering intentional connections between training programs among different business units and HR programs. This will promote learning networks and help ensure stakeholder alignment when it comes to rollouts. You should also remove the silo between theoretical training and practical application by implementing real-life applications and leadership encouragement.

The Importance of Resiliency

Be sure to implement resiliency alongside other strategies in order to make the most of training. This has become a key human skill across HR departments as agility and adaption have become essential to survival.

Resiliency in the business world means drawing actionable insights out of a variety of different sources. The goal is to be ready to change course quickly while also planning for a longer-term evolution. Effective training strategies should incorporate resiliency in order to prepare employees for real-world work.

Teach your employees resiliency through individual virtual training and group activities. These methods not only help employees learn resiliency, but they also give you a better idea of how each person handles tough situations. From there, you can apply additional training where necessary.

Training is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Therefore, employers must reevaluate training regularly and adapt it accordingly so that it remains applicable to both your company’s and your employees’ goals. By emphasizing resiliency and focusing on creating flexible, practical training programs, you’ll see better results.

digital skills

Digital Upskilling to Close the Generation Gap

The enterprise and the workplace are increasingly influenced by technology and technology-driven processes. With digital upskilling becoming an increasing priority, this often comes with a new level of competency and a shift in demand on the skills required to fulfill the needs of a job.

This is particularly true in the insurance industry, where we are seeing a confluence of events. Such as accelerated digital transformation, rapidly-changing customer demands, and the migration to hybrid work models.

This has a direct effect on talent and the workforce.

As a result, many companies are increasing their investments in digital upskilling and reskilling their employees to prepare staff to capitalize on this golden market opportunity.

Building a Digital-Ready Workforce

With new digital tools, connected technologies, and better access to real time data, there is a balance between tried and true insurance methods. This includes new ways of analyzing information and insuring risk. Using new digital tools eliminates or automates repetitive tasks to free up talent to analyze and interpret client needs.

Reskilling, upskilling, and training employees is crucial for companies to build digital-ready workforces to carry their businesses into the future. This will lead to industry modernization and inspire teams to develop solutions that meet evolving customer needs.

Adopting Unique Learning Methods

According to Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends Insurance Industry Outlook, insurance companies are 1.5 times more likely than other industries to develop skills related to innovation and adapting existing products. Additionally, insurers look to drive digital innovation and enhance the user experience to meet evolving customer needs.

This is great news for both current and budding insurance professionals. It is also a warning signal for carriers that are not investing the right time and resources in their talent.

New technology integral to the insurance industry presents an exciting ground for recent graduates. This is also true for employees from other fields looking to make a career transition. To take advantage of this opportunity, both employers and employees must take on a proactive learning mindset.

But appealing to everyone and their preferred way of receiving tools and technology training is a huge undertaking. When it comes to learning and development, teams have to think how to engage generations in the workforce today. While older generations are used to classroom learning, Gen Z and Millennials prefer YouTube videos or snippets of learning available. Companywide training programs incorporate different learning combinations, such as lecture, demo, and hands-on lab exercises.

Training to Suit All Ages

Incorporating the following steps, insurance industry leaders can train different generations across the tools required for learning and technology.

  • Determine the organization’s digital workforce goals: Identify the benefits leaders can expect from their digital upskilling investments and the steps that will be critical to the team’s success.
  • Connecting with the whole organization: Reskilling is not an individual project. Make sure training is available to staff across all levels and incorporate different learning styles to stay in tune with how everyone learns.
  • Provide recognition: Learning additional skills on top of an existing workload is not something that should be taken lightly. Rewarding staff for upskilling will help with employee morale, retention, and engagement.
  • Measuring success: Employees must embrace continuous learning so that reskilling does not fade. To mitigate this possibility, a digital workforce strategy must extend beyond learning and development to influence culture and ways of working.

Finding out which skills are missing across your organization and within specific teams will help you create a stronger workforce.

Embrace the Diversity of Different Generations

Having a range of ages on your staff adds value to the organization. As the age of retirement rises, companies need to explore adopting more inclusive policies to accommodate an older workforce.

Younger employees are more accustomed to rapidly developing technology and adapting to the changes it drives. Similarly, more mature employees have knowledge from the duration of their experience that can guide decision-making.

Creating an environment where all generations can learn from one another allows for mutually beneficial mentoring opportunities. When you have multiple generations in the workforce, those with more years of experience can advise younger employees on career development. Additionally, cross-generational mentoring will allow more junior employees to educate mature workers due to their familiarity with current trends and technology.

When it comes to reskilling and upskilling, it is not only about the generations already in the workforce, but companies also need to provide tools for those reentering the workforce. Reentering the workforce includes re-training of both technology and basic workplace skills.

Digital Upskilling is Here to Stay

As technologies evolve, the need for digitally skilled talent is not just for the short term. Insurers must foster a culture of innovation to develop skilled professionals internally – a culture that attracts them from the outside and helps retain them for the long haul.

One thing is certain: the insurance industry will continue to digitize to meet productivity goals and provide customers with an engaging experience. If companies can proactively address digital upskilling; customers, employees and the overall organization all benefit.

immersive training

Immersive Training Solutions for a Hybrid Work World

Remote workforce training has come of age. Forced to get creative during lockdowns, many companies moved beyond their traditional learning and development initiatives, exploring other education options. Those that reported excellent results usually had one thing in common: They embraced immersive technologies.

What does immersive technology look like? Think virtual reality or augmented reality. Both VR and AR training options allow people to feel like they’re in the midst of a situation without physically being in the room. And these educational experiences are not as untested as you might assume.

Though COVID ramped up the reliance on immersive education, immersive VR and AR solutions didn’t start in early 2020. They’ve evolved over the past decade. That’s why Mercedes-Benz began using Microsoft’s HoloLens to scale up widespread corporate training a few years ago, following in the footsteps of competitors like Ford and Volvo.

Advantages to VR and AR Training Solutions

You don’t have to be in the automotive field to get the benefits of immersive technologies to train your personnel, though. VR and AR training can be useful for organizations across a wide range of sectors, from engineering to oil to industrial operations.

For instance, some businesses opt for immersive training to help their employees understand how to approach complex situations. Others use immersive modalities for self-driven “practice,” as workers can run through scenarios countless times to perfect their abilities. But corporations don’t have to limit AR and VR to “hard skills.” Leadership, problem-solving, and other soft skills can come to life in a virtual format, too.

That doesn’t mean that you want to just jump into immersive training without a plan. It’s important to be prepared so you can successfully upskill a cross-section of your team cost-effectively and reliably. With those considerations in mind, you can move forward by paying attention to the following strategies:

1. Budget correctly for your immersive training program.

One of the biggest obstacles leaders face when trying to get executives to champion VR or AR training is the perceived costs. As with most technologies, the direct cost for software, equipment, and setup of VR and AR training has dropped over the years. Even VR headsets have become surprisingly affordable, not to mention much more comfortable than before. Nevertheless, the upfront price might seem too high—at first. However, you have to factor in all the ways that AR and VR can cut down on traditional expenses associated with training.

For instance, immersive training allows you to give the same message to all your people without transporting them anywhere. You don’t have to rent a conference room or pay for travel. Instead, you can put all your dollars toward scaling your training solution in a reliable, consistent way where efficiency nets greater ROI.

2. Take your immersive training on test runs.

During the pandemic, countless companies embraced immersive training out of necessity. Unless you’re under a time constraint, you can likely start smaller. Invest in some AR and VR technology programs, but don’t change everything you do regarding onboarding, upskilling, or reskilling.

What’s the simplest way to begin in a limited way? Find a partner who works in the immersive technology industry. Most providers will be able to help you develop VR and AR simulations that you can test on specific teams or employees. That way, you’ll be able to see how immersive technologies can be used across the rest of your business. You’ll also have an easier time getting higher-level champions to support more comprehensive VR and AR training due to your proof-of-concept information.

3. Collect data from every immersive training.

A huge boon to VR and AR training is the ability to collect scores of data. You can use the information you gather to better measure and even monetize your training sessions. An example might be to collect information on how many times your newest employees need to run through a certain simulation. If you notice that one simulation seems more challenging and takes longer to learn than others, you might want to consider ways to break it down into bite-size parts.

The more data you bring into the fold, the better you can make your VR and AR modules. This will help improve the learning across your workforce no matter where your employees plug in. And when you test different modules, you can see how they’re affecting other ones by examining the data.

Immersive training is set to become a norm at many firms and organizations, particularly with the uptick in telecommuting. Even if you’ve never considered adding VR or AR technology to your learning and development initiatives, take a second look at the possibilities. Classic in-person and e-learning models work, but they have limitations. Immersive training solutions can optimize education for all employees and corporate goals, making them excellent companions to your current lineup of training.

employee education

Employee Education: How to Avoid the ‘Forgetting Curve’

You’ve spent the day at a leadership conference learning all sorts of great things: how to coach your team, how to build engagement, how to run effective meetings, how to encourage career development, and more. You go back to work the next day with good intentions—but quickly lapse into your old habits.

Within a few weeks, you try to recall what you learned, but even with your notes, you have a hard time. What on Earth happened? If he were still alive, 19th-century psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus would have the answer: You just experienced the “forgetting curve.”

We’ve known for 126 years that the human brain doesn’t retain a lot in terms of memory, and Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve shows just how rapidly new information is lost if we don’t have the opportunity to put it into practice quickly. But just 12 percent of professionals use their newfound skills right away.

This means taking people out of work and putting them through a formal, structured class (where they might even be tested with the accompanying assumption they know what to do if they pass) and then putting them back in the workplace doesn’t actually influence the performance.

Being expected to retain large volumes of information all in one go is like trying to drink from a firehose—sure, you absorb a little bit, but the majority washes over you without sinking in. Fortunately, though, there are employee education tactics to make knowledge “stickier” and avoid the forgetting curve.

1. Give workers access to bite-sized learning.

When it comes to employee education, it’s common to bombard employees with large amounts of information. But most people, especially your high performers, are time-poor and constantly pulled in competing directions.

The way around time constraints is to give workers access to quick information that can be ingested in small bursts. For instance, a self-directed program of 15-minute modules allows employees to tap into knowledge at their point of need. So rather than spending a week learning about agile management, they get a distilled understanding of the principle that they can apply immediately.

Microlearning is also an effective way to improve uptake and engagement. Eighty-five percent of all educational content is either forgotten or rendered useless within six weeks of learning it, which indicates that traditional training might not be the most effective way for people to learn. Pandora is one example of a company that turned to microlearning for its workforce and saw training completion rates go from 15 percent to 90 percent. Busy people who might not be able to commit fully to an all-day event can usually find small nuggets of time to devote to a little education.

2. Encourage managers to follow up after training to help reinforce learning.

Having team members share how they’ve applied what they learned is one of the most effective ways to overcome the forgetting curve and to ensure behavior change (which is usually the goal of employee education). These informal interactions can be brief; think of them more as a huddle than a formal check-in, as discussing what has been learned in conversation can help make knowledge stick.

This is especially important after bringing new employees into the fold. Onboarding typically involves a large volume of information: “Here’s our tech system. Here’s how we do stuff.” Once onboarding is over, employees frequently experience the forgetting curve. Meeting with their team leaders to go over digestible chunks of the material they learned while onboarding helps with retention.

3. Stack new knowledge on top of prior knowledge.

Another way to bypass the effects of the forgetting curve in employee education is to build learning experiences. For example, an employee would need to be able to demonstrate and apply specific behaviors before learning something else. This type of information “stacking” creates a strong foundation and avoids learning loss. Over time, the lower levels of the “stack” become more and more ingrained.

Be careful, though: Not all knowledge “belongs” on top of other knowledge. Learning has to make sense for your employee. Take the idea of a public speaking course for a performer who doesn’t have a speaking engagement planned. The material may seem unnecessary, making it more likely to be forgotten before it can be applied.

To ensure that you’re stacking knowledge efficiently, request feedback from your team members. You can always fix something that’s not working.

4. Create training opportunities that are easily accessible and device-agnostic.

People in need of information don’t always want to read about the topic. Many people are visual or auditory learners. Or they may want to interact kinesthetically with curricula if possible. Be certain that you’re offering training that meets people’s learning needs and preferences.

Similarly, be sure that all employee education content is accessible on any device. Use laptops, tablets, smartphones and desktops for learning purposes. The more user-centric your learning content is, the more it will become a reliable resource.

Calculate which types of devices or learning styles are being used most often by your team. Maybe the majority of employees seem to tune into podcast-style micro-content on their smartphones, in which case you might like to add more audio formats to your learning toolkit.

5. Go for a blended learning approach that still includes formal learning.

Formal learning has a place in corporate training, as long as it’s equally as engaging and effective as other types of education. Intersperse formal learning with other types of employee education, such as microlearning, feedback loops, and self-directed learning.

When designing your learning processes, go for a blended approach with multiple touchpoints. Don’t just have a lecture-style marathon. Instead, add a post-workshop task and follow-up sessions to round out the learning and reinforce the transfer of knowledge.

The forgetting curve may be a proven phenomenon, but there are certainly ways to overcome it! Just put a few measures in place, and you’ll have far less forgetting—and far more employees eager to show off their mettle.

skill development

The Value of Self-driven Skill Development [Podcast]

For many employees, a job isn’t simply the act of doing some work and collecting a paycheck anymore. For example, Millennial employees live in what some are calling an “identity economy,” where they place value on their work and want it to have meaning. They’re demanding more thorough training, and they don’t want to stop learning or become stagnant in their roles.

While it is great that employees want to deliver more value to businesses, many organizations don’t have the processes in place to empower them to do so. As workers become more invested in skill development, HR departments and managers should offer employees more opportunities to grow and adapt. They need to consider how they can offer employees collections of valuable information to make skill-building convenient, accessible, and rewarding.

Our Guest: Ike Bennion and Henry Vasquez, Cornerstone

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Ike Bennion, the director of product marketing, innovation and strategy at Cornerstone, and Henry Vasquez, manager of product management for Cornerstone’s Skills & Capabilities products. Ike has written and presented on various HR functions, including AI, recruitment, learning, content, and benefit strategy. Henry has 10+ years experience in software development with a strong understanding of enterprise knowledge management, talent management, and productivity software. Cornerstone is a founding member of the Velocity Network, which puts people in control of their data by helping them accumulate a digital wallet filled with their validated experiences, skills, certifications and licenses, and more.

Why should brands care about self-driven skills development?

“They should care because there’s a lot of redeployment of skills happening in the marketplace today,” Ike says. “We aren’t necessarily seeing job roles disappear while new jobs are created in their places. But we’re seeing skills move from position to position.”

Basically, to prepare employees for these changes, employers need to develop a library of resources that empower employees to learn.

“Employees need a robust library of resources at their fingertips to adapt to whatever the day looks like,” Ike says. “So for employers considering whether to offer this to employees, the question is: Do you want a competitively skilled workforce or do you not? If the answer is yes, then think about how you’re going to offer the right resources to the right employees.”

Personalizing the Skill Development Experience

Leaders need to take on the role of driving skill development, Henry explains. In short, they need to determine where individual employees will succeed and how they can grow. Once they’ve done that, they can offer badges, points, and other incentives to fuel people’s desire for skill development.

“If you can convince your leadership team to lead by example–watch webinars, take college courses, upskill–you can build an extremely effective skill development culture,” Henry says. “You can also offer regular career development check-ins to make sure employees are doing what they want to do. If you don’t create space for those check-ins, work just becomes tactical, and you’re not really focusing on the employee.” 

Managers can inspire employees to focus on skill development by focusing on social engineering and currency. They can put skill development into the context of helping the company to succeed. This will drive people to want to engage with learning. Leaders can show their direct reports that hard work and upskilling has an impact and reward them for doing so.

“When you know everyone else is learning, it makes you want to get involved. By championing knowledge sharing, you’re motivating the people,” Henry says. “When you share knowledge and you’re being heard, your expertise is valued. And that creates a great social ecosystem of learning.” 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends sponsored by Cornerstone. You can learn more about the value of self-driven skill development by reaching out to Ike Bennion and Henry Vasquez on LinkedIn.

ROI of L&D

Learning ROI – It’s Time to Shift the Narrative

Learning and development (L&D) is driving big investments for businesses, with estimates of $96.3 billion spent in 2017 alone. With steep costs associated with L&D, it stands to reason that business leaders would want to see their ROI, but this poses a problem: It’s impossible to calculate ROI of learning the way we do other areas of investment because ROI is traditionally a financial calculation, while learning is a deeply human process. To think of it any differently will result in an imperfect assessment of the value of L&D.

ROI is traditionally focused on causation — if you invest this much, you’ll get this much back — and this model works fine for many types of spending, such as marketing (e.g. SEO optimization spend yields X increase in clickthru rates). But the elements of causality are hard to find in uncontrolled environments like companies and classrooms. Once we accept that causation is not a viable measurement for learning, the next step is identifying the mechanism that will help determine learning ROI — correlation.

From in-person conferences and live online courses to self-directed access to problem solving, companies are providing a diverse range of learning resources. Correlations between the use of these resources and business outcomes can be found in a number of places. For instance, most organizations have the ability to track their employees’ “touchpoints” — engagements with their learning programs, online or in person — and to determine how frequently they participate. Many organizations may also have a system for tracking performance and potential, often rating or ranking on both dimensions. By using the information provided by these systems, L&D leaders can map learning engagement to an organization’s most important goals and employee measurements.

In looking at this data, you might find that your organization’s highest performers are also the most engaged learners, and that correlation can point to direct business value. Further, if you see that high-performers are performance-adjacent learners — meaning they jump in and out of a company’s learning tools to get answers — then it can be further surmised that this approach has a direct impact and value to the business while simultaneously justifying investment in learning tools.

Conversely, the lowest performers in an organization, as determined before learning measurement begins, offer a chance to chart improvement with learning resources. Their improvement helps L&D leaders make the case that these resources are directly helping employees gain skills. If those same employees are measured by engagement, there can be further measurements to determine whether and how employees who interact with learning programs reach proficiency faster than those who engage less frequently.

To best measure the impact of L&D, follow this five-point checklist:

Examine critical business and HR metrics and then correlate learner engagement and learner behavior with those metrics.
Work to align learning engagement metrics with the things the business inherently values. Insights such as how often your best performing employees use your online environment and for how long can suggest ways that other employees can better succeed.

Don’t get trapped into overselling smile sheets or other Kirkpatrick Model Level One or Level Two assessments.
Such assessments can certainly be useful, but they are limited because they can’t accurately measure future skill retention or application. For example, while a pre- and post-test for tangible, fact-based information that you want to be disseminated might be somewhat helpful, it’s important to be cautious in interpretation. Such tests most likely tell you that the learner can recall what was just taught, but the tests suggest nothing about behavior changes or business impact.

Play the long game and set expectations.
Make sure the business leaders in your organization understand that the outcome of learning interventions must be observed over time and might sometimes feel intangible. Talk with management about their own experiences in learning a new skill or functional area — how did they or anyone else measure their success? Additionally, outline the data you plan to gather and report back to leadership throughout the entire program. This commitment should allow you to discuss how, over time, the investment will pay off.

Create a targeted strategy around Kirkpatrick Model Level Three and Level Four assessments.
Some companies offer dozens or even hundreds of possible learning experiences every year. For these organizations, it’s too burdensome to send out observation teams or to collect observational survey data for every experience. Rather, identify a few learning experiences that have the greatest possible impact and seem feasible to observe. Spend energy around Level Three and Level Four assessments in these areas only.

Argue table stakes, not sweepstakes.
While measurement is important, it’s time to make the case with senior leaders and key funding decision makers that new factors have changed the game. According to a recent Dale Carnegie survey, 87 percent of millennials say that professional development and career growth are significant to them. The same survey found that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent. These are numbers that should not be ignored or taken lightly. What’s more, the war for talent is not slowing, and it’s costly to attract and replace talent. A recent study by Udemy found that 46 percent of employees say that limited opportunities to learn new skills is the top reason why they are bored in their current roles and, as a result, 61 percent of those employees are likely to change jobs to pursue opportunities that are more rewarding.

Development opportunities are now crucial to maintaining a competitive workforce, and L&D must be recognized as affecting not only performance but also talent retention, employee engagement and other business metrics. Correlation helps us draw lines between L&D engagement metrics and mission-critical organizational goals, which makes it easier for business leaders to recognize the value of L&D. When we shift our view to this vantage point, L&D professionals will be empowered to tell meaningful, data-driven stories that align with the goals of their organizations.

 

employee learning program

How Coursera Encourages Its Millennial Employees to Keep Learning

Training and development are crucial to an organization’s growth and success. Employees need professional development to grow and be promoted to roles requiring more responsibility. Millennials are looking for more learning opportunities at work. This may be one reason that corporate training and development spending rose in 2017.

One company, Coursera, has achieved success by offering online courses to help people develop the skills they need to be successful at work. Coursera’s own workforce is relatively young, and Ian Stuart, Director of Learning and Development, explains how the company provides useful professional development for a millennial workforce.

Focus on the Big Picture

The amount of time a typical employee spends on learning development is decreasing over time. “In fact, one survey by Josh Bersin found that the typical employee spends 24 minutes per week (1% of their time) on their own development, which is a significant decrease over time,” Stuart says.

He doesn’t think that employees don’t want to learn; it’s just hard for them to find time to learn. “That’s why you need a targeted approach to learning,” Stuart says. “Connecting it to something that’s bigger, something that’s more important for the entire company, is really important for motivating people to learn.”

Stuart’s approach is connecting learning with the broader organizational goals, using company-level initiatives as drivers for developing learning platforms.

For example, when the organization was focused on rolling out a new performance-management system with 360 feedback, he created a series of learning resources and a workshop on feedback. “People needed to learn some best practices for giving and receiving feedback, so they could be tactful while sharing constructive feedback,” Stuart says. However, instead of just teaching them the process, he was also clear in explaining why feedback was important for their culture and how it connects to Coursera’s values as a company.

Learn to Lead

Many of Coursera’s senior employees are between 8 and 12 years into their careers, while the majority of employees are in their mid-to-late 20s. As a result, a lot of the training is foundational , because for some of the workers, this is their first job out of college.

Stuart says the company is encouraging their employees to take charge and bring ideas to fruition. “Culturally, we’re just trying to help people understand that they can get involved, they can have an idea and they can mobilize people to see that the idea is a good one, or they see a problem and they can mobilize people to solve it.”

Thriving at this level of autonomy and self-direction has to be taught. “There’s still a tendency for a lot of young people to look to the hierarchy for permission, or to look to people who are in positions of formal authority when things aren’t going well, rather than trying to solve the problem themselves,” he says. But the company wants to give employees concrete avenues for solving problems. “We need people to take charge and act like leaders at every level, so that’s another part of the culture that we’re trying to build,” Stuart says.

Prepare for the Future

Coursera is a customer of their own enterprise learning product, Coursera for Business, and the company has created Coursera for Coursera, a series of online courses focused on specific skills. There’s a collection for core business skills, a collection for leadership and management, a collection for technical skills for people in technical roles and technical skills for people in nontechnical roles. “I’ve curated the content in our program to match the broader skill areas that people need to build,” Stuart says.

He’s also working with the company’s more senior engineers — including Jon Wong, who is spearheading this project — to give junior engineers a broad understanding of how the different technologies they use at Coursera work, exposing people to different programming languages, tools, and platforms. “We’re trying to give all of our engineers a common baseline of knowledge. It’s a leadership opportunity for our more senior engineers, and eventually I’m hoping it leads to more internal mobility.”

employee-learning

How 3 Innovative Companies Are Rethinking Learning at Work

According to a 2017 survey, 71 percent of employees have had to undergo training to either keep or advance forward in a position. Nearly half say they have not been able to advance due to a lack of training.

This is a twofold problem for employers. Companies not offering learning opportunities may be hindering the professional growth of their employees, which in turn negatively affects the organization. But even when companies provide opportunities to learn, training is often perceived as being cumbersome, time-consuming, inconvenient and even irrelevant.

Looking for new ways to get employees involved in their own professional development? Take a page from three innovative companies that are rethinking their approach to learning at work, and producing a more engaged workforce.

Deloitte

Deloitte’s learning process integrates gamification: The company has literally made learning a game. The firm originally struggled to get employees and client companies to take online courses in executive training through The Deloitte Leadership Academy. By incorporating game mechanics — such as leaderboards, badges and missions — Deloitte reported a 50 percent faster course-completion rate and a 36 percent greater weekly retention rate. Deloitte’s use of competition, fun and design have helped to create a learning process that is informative and engaging.

Inspirus

Inspirus is taking another approach to make learning less cumbersome. Theresa Harkins, VP of Client Success and Engagement Solutions, understands the importance of making learning more palatable. “Delivering learning in a fun and interactive manner drives business outcomes while engaging employees,” she says.

The Inspirus approach involves microlearning. “Microlearning consists of short, five-minute bursts of content available via mobile devices that can be easily blended into a workday, and that empowers the user to learn anywhere at any time,” Harkins says. “Our clients are realizing that employees don’t have as much time to attend a training class or take an hourlong online course.”

Four Day Weekend

Four Day Weekend is committed to making learning more fun for everyone. The improv comedy troupe has a corporate division that meets with companies to build communication and other skills through skits. Every high-energy show is different, since it’s tailored for each client. The troupe’s roster of clients includes American Airlines, FedEx Office, Southwest Airlines and Hyatt Corporation.

One key theme in their work is the build-upon concept of “yes, and” as a way to encourage creativity and embrace new ideas. The goal of such a skit is to never say no, and that leads to some pretty funny scenarios. The troupe allows the audience to participate by suggesting words that can worked into the skit.

These are just three companies using new approaches to make learning both informative and engaging. Use these as a jumping-off point to innovation in your own organization.