Employee learning and development are more important than ever before. According to LinkedIn’s recent workplace learning study, 72 percent of respondents agree that it is more strategic today than five years ago. The modern workplace is constantly changing, and employees need to be able to adapt to new technologies, processes, and methods. As a result, companies around the world invested over $357.7 billion into employee training in 2020 (with $165.3 billion spent in the US alone).
However, despite all the money and time, evidence shows that many organizations fail to instill a learning culture that leads to a better-performing, confident and engaged workforce. In fact, employee engagement in 2022 is at all-time low, companies are struggling with a global talent shortage while only 55% of current employees feel confident in their organization’s ability to develop their skills.
So what’s the root cause of the Employee-Employer Skills Confidence Gap? The answer might lie in the What, When, How, and From Who’s of corporate leadership & development.
WHAT employees are learning
Large organizations tend to be driven by KPIs, such as training provided or employees trained, instead of quality. This can push companies to develop training curriculums that are generic and at a high enough level to “cover everybody.” When employees don’t feel like the training will enhance their specific skills, they become disengaged, and the training course becomes a ticking off-the-box exercise.
WHEN employees are learning
People learn best when they have to learn. Applying what’s learned to real-world situations strengthens one’s focus and determination to learn. When companies adopt uniform schedules and training calendars, employees end up learning a skill that they currently have no use for or (which is far worse) struggle to find guidance when most needed.
HOW employees are learning
Research shows that people forget up to 70% of what they learn in the classroom within one or two days. The old ‘Use It Or Lose It’ mantra remains as true today as always. Incorporating new learning into your work is one way to retain knowledge. However, employees shouldn’t be solely responsible for finding situations where they can apply what they learned – leaders should encourage employees to practice newly acquired skills and set up a mechanism for employees to report back on what are they still missing.
FROM WHOM employees are learning
When an employee needs to know how to do something, his or her first stop typically isn’t Google or the company training manual – according to HBR, 55% ask their colleague first. This could be a huge cue for companies about how, or from whom employees want to learn. Peer learning is a great way to enrich not only the learner but also the trainer by strengthening the existing understanding your employees have about concepts.
In 2022, we need a new approach to employee learning and development. Rather than focus on meeting your corporate training KPIs, leaders should strive to develop a true learning culture, one that inspires, opens minds, encourages employees to learn by doing and from each other, and has a high level of applicability to the specific needs of each employee.
Of course, that is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are a few companies that are getting it right when it comes to enterprise learning and development and could serve as a great example to emulate.
Workday launched a skills-based HR approach in 2021 that included its own tools, such as the Career Hub. This allows workers to connect with opportunities to assist other teams and departments, allowing them to “learn on the job.” According to Workday’s data, gigs have “really positive” effects on employees and management. Nearly 95% of gig participants said they’ve been able to improve or develop skills that were already developed. Moreover, 96% percent of gig hosts claim to have seen better results on their teams and increased efficiency.
Amazon is currently running an initiative dubbed Associate2Tech, in which it will train front-line workers to transition into technical positions without prior IT expertise. All of the training is entirely optional. They believe in investing in their own people and assisting them in gaining new talents and developing more professional choices for themselves.
Ex-Change is a new initiative designed for the Women’s Network by City National Bank. This program provides unstructured mentor-mentee interactions to provide a safe environment for learning and knowledge-sharing.
COLEY, a worldwide legal firm, has created a virtual mentoring program CAMP – known as Cooley Academy Mentoring Program. The objective is to make the onboarding procedure better. Through this program, mentors get to teach, train, and support new hires through mentoring sessions, and prepare them for more complex work.
Marriott International has long been recognized as one of Asia’s finest employers, owing to its emphasis on employee development. The company’s staff development plans are intended to attract and keep a committed team of individuals who embrace the corporation’s fundamental principles of achievement and service. It offers two development programs:
- The Global Voyage Leadership Development program is designed to assist recent university graduates in finding their way in the world.
- The Marriott Development Academy is a program for future leaders that focuses on developing those skills.
As we take a big step into the future, the Metaverse will present an entirely new set of opportunities for learning and development. As a fully immersive and interactive online environment, it will provide a platform for developing skills and knowledge in a way that is not possible in the physical world. For example, employees will be able to interact with tools required for their jobs in a fully immersive and interactive way and practice working in dangerous environments from the safety of their homes. From the first available pilots, VR learners report being 275% more confident in their skills, 3.75 times more emotionally connected to content, and four times more focused than their traditional eLearning peers.
If you as a leader are currently struggling with a talent shortage and engaging employees to learn the skills they need for the job, you are not alone. By working together, sharing ideas, and learning from each other what works and what doesn’t work, global leaders can build better, more engaging learning environments for their employees. If you are struggling with employee L&D at your organization, join the next Executive Growth Circle that will be dedicated specifically to Building A Diverse, Learning Organization – How to embed a learning organization culture and build competence among junior staff? See you there!