Technology and Training: Why Teaching Employees How to Use Tools is so Important!

I still remember orientation for one of my first jobs out of college. It felt like torture. Sitting in a stuffy room, reviewing boring company policies. As it turned out, both of those things were regular features of the company’s larger training protocol. It was an important lesson, right out of the gate, about how critical the right training can be.

When done well, training improves employee retention and productivity, and leads to happier and more loyal customers. But in today’s digital landscape, it is becoming more difficult to keep up with employee training needs. Technology is changing as fast as our industries, leaving companies in a two-fold struggle: how to keep employees current on company software, and how to keep software current—or better yet, innovating—to meet customers’ evolving (i.e. growing) demands.

In 2016 alone, companies spent $71 billion on training in the United States, averaging more than $1,200 per employee. I believe this number will likely continue to increase, as the skills gap created by the speed of tech advancement is creating an endless need. Now more than ever, companies need to invest in training that has a true ROI—one that can be tied back to their customers. Below, I share a few tips for keeping employees engaged, on-point, and confident in their roles using effective training.

Practice “Trickle-Training

In today’s world, where short social media snippets dominate our thought patterns, long, drawn-out training sessions will never be effective. Use technology to your advantage by creating training that fits our current tech environment. Start early, and repeat often with short videos and pop-up reminders that suit our short attention spans. Remember, when information is easy to digest, it will be digested!

Make It Fun

There is no reason training needs to be boring, especially today. Numerous companies have come to value the concept of gamification in creating more engaged employees and happier customers. SAP Streamwork grew brainstorming ideas by 58 percent after incorporating gamification into its processes. Similarly, Spotify saw a 90 percent participation rate when they created a mobile, gamified annual review process. If you don’t have a gamification expert on hand, find one. GaaS (Gamification as a Service) is a thing—there’s no longer a reason not to try it for your industry.

Show Rewards 

Look—we’re all human (at least for now.) We want to be rewarded for our hard work and expertise. The best training will also have great incentives. Gamification makes that easy, allowing you to personalize rewards for each individual employee user. This way, employees choose how they want to be rewarded, whether with additional vacation hours or a gift card to their favorite store.

Endorse It

A while back, I saw in on a company’s Toastmasters training session and saw the delight in employees’ faces when some of the top executives took time to participate with them. When training of any kind—public speaking or tech!—is embraced from the top down, employees notice. They get amped by seeing their bosses participate on the same level, and feel like their participation is truly valued. If you want your training to be embraced, get your top executives to embrace it!

Shout It Out

Don’t hide your training! Some companies add training opportunities to the company calendar, buried somewhere on the Intranet where no one will ever find it. I’ve spoken to lots of employees who had no idea that certain training opportunities or benefits were available. Get excited about your training opportunities! Create a central location where all employees can feel the energy of learning, and post them on video screens in high-profile places to make sure everyone—at all levels—sees them.

Remember: Training Doesn’t Exist in a Bubble

Great—and effective—training focuses on more than new technology. It focuses on creating a culture where knowledge and innovation are valued—where people want to do a good job for the mission of the company. Certain organizations have done incredibly well at creating a strong culture. As soon as you enter a DaVita dialysis center, a Chick-Fil-A restaurant, or a Disney theme park, you feel it. The more you’re able to build an atmosphere where being on-point is celebrated and expected, the more “training” will be part of your everyday business, rather than a supplemental part of it.

Focus on UX

Remember: Training does not fall on the employee’s shoulders alone. It’s up to leadership to bring employees into the conversation when selecting the right technology to make sure it’s intuitive and answers their needs form a user perspective. Proper UX will lead to higher and faster absorption, less training, and more room for innovation overall.

Training has never been more important than it is today, especially with the fast pace at which technology is changing our business (and business tools.) Training done right will lead to happier and more confident employees, and happier customers, as well, if only you let it.

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