Keeping employees engaged and satisfied with their work is key to the long-term success of any business. In fact, engagement leads to a number of concrete benefits, including higher individual and team productivity, longer retention, and higher levels of commitment to your business's mission, to name a few. Engagement is a multi-faceted concept, but one thing that will certainly help overall engagement is extended education and training opportunities. In short, employees who feel like they are learning and developing on the job are more likely to care deeply about the organization and its long term success.
Bringing technology into your employee training program is an effective way to ensure that your team is constantly developing. Many businesses still rely on traditional unengaging approaches to employee training (for example, watching videos, reading manuals, etc.). Luckily, there have been significant technological advances in employee training, allowing you to offer your employees a range of different training and development activities to meet their needs and style.
With advances in new technologies, employee training has become even more accessible and innovative. By taking advantage of technology in your employee training program you can see a range of benefits. In order to make the most out of technology in your training and development program, however, it's important to analyze your team's needs and preferred learning styles.
Benefits of Tech-Focused Employee Training
Incorporating technology in your employee training can bring several key benefits, making your training program more efficient, engaging and affordable.
Technology allows you to bring your team together for virtual group trainings with very little added cost, apart from time costs and investment in the right technology for the training. Team communication platforms are a great resource in this regard, providing you with a collection of collaborative tools for training purposes.
Efficiency and Flexibility
As businesses become ever more geographically dispersed, technology can provide training opportunities to employees regardless of their location. Bringing your team together in one physical location for training purposes can be time-consuming and inefficient. In fact, if you're working remote workers based overseas this could even be impossible.
One of the main benefits of using more technology in your training is the greater flexibility that comes with it. For example, individual team members can work through a series of online courses at their own pace. This self-set pace can lead to higher engagement with the training material.
Given these numerous benefits that technology can bring to your team training program, the next logical question is which technologies are right for you? There are several approaches to including more technology in your training program, from full on augmented reality, to self-paced "Massive Open Online Courses" (MOOCS). Which technology is right for you and your team will depend on several factors.
For a truly immersive training experience, Augmented Reality (AR) is the way to go. This technology blends a the digital and physical environments, creating superimposed digital content on the real world. An example of this would be training on complex equipment with superimposed images allowing your employees to interact with the equipment in a safe environment.
Online Collaboration Platforms
One use of technology in training is in recreating a more traditional group training environment when it's unrealistic to bring employees together (for example, when working with remote employees). In this case an online collaborative platform could be the answer, particularly one with collaborative features such as video chat, screen-sharing and chat rooms.
One way to keep employees challenged and developing is to provide them with external distance learning opportunities. The number of 'Massive Open Online Courses' (MOOCS) is constantly increasing, both in terms of overall offerings and areas covered. Regardless of your field, there are certainly good options to expand your employees' skill set.
Choosing the right technology goes hand in hand with choosing the specific approach or approaches for your employee training. Some employees will benefit from more freedom to set the pace of their own individual learning, while others may thrive in a group environment. Setting the right approach is key to a successful training program.
Often times the most effective approach to using technology for training your employees is balancing it with in-person elements, otherwise known as 'blended learning.' This approach is particularly useful for employees who are resistant to a completely virtual learning experience. Combine in person and virtual learning, for example with individual online learning courses followed up by in person group discussions.
On Demand Learning
Given the abundance of mobile devices, your employees aren't limited to training at one set time. On Demand Learning through an online learning database can give your employees the flexibility to choose the topics and pace at which they learn. If you already have, or are planning to develop, a learning database with different content, this type of approach could work well.
Group Learning Environment
Sometimes the best training is being able to shadow a more experienced colleague and learn about their work, ask a colleague to walk you through a work process, or simply discuss an issue in a group format. Granting employees a platform to collaborate in this way through group messaging can create many additional learning opportunities.
In all likelihood, no one approach will answer the needs of every employee. Providing choices, on the other hand, will give your employees the power to set their own learning pace and style. After all, who better than the employees themselves can say what will work best for their individual development?
The modern workplace is rapidly changing, and your employee training should be changing with it. Too many businesses are still relying on outdated 'paper and pen' training methods that fail to take advantage of the numerous latest technological advances leaving employees feeling bored and disengaged with the learning experience.
By integrating more technology into your training program, you will reap numerous benefits, most importantly, engaged and committed employees. While technology is not a cure all, when deployed strategically in your employee training program it can lead to much higher learning outcomes.