The Advantages of Upskilling for Employee Development
A healthy, loyal, highly skilled workforce is critical, no matter your industry or niche. Achieving that can be challenging, particularly in today’s world. It requires the right combination of corporate culture, work environment, and employee-investment initiatives, including investing in their training and development.
CNBC reports that 40% of workers considered changing jobs in 2022. However, 94% of employees would remain with a company if it invested in helping them learn and develop their skills. Forbes points out that employee development helps build loyalty, which drives increased productivity.
Investing in employee learning and development (L&D) initiatives is no longer optional. It’s a requirement for business growth. However, employers face interesting challenges moving forward with these initiatives. For instance, the delivery method chosen for training can profoundly affect employee learning outcomes.
Is traditional in-person learning better, or should employers opt for online learning? Increasingly, online learning is the go-to solution for its many advantages over other methods. For employers still on the fence, we’ll discuss the advantages online learning offers and why it should be your choice for employee L&D initiatives.
In-person learning is inherently inflexible. Employees must be in class at a specific time on a particular day at a designated place. If they’re not, they miss the class. Even video-based training systems lack the flexibility necessary today. Who has the time to sit in HR and watch videos for several hours a day? The pace of modern business does not support this model, to say anything of how it affects employee schedules.
On the other hand, online learning offers incredible flexibility. Employees can complete training from anywhere, at any time. If someone has 20 minutes after the morning meeting, they can complete a module or two. Another employee with downtime in the evening could choose to complete training outside the workplace.
It’s all about creating and delivering training that dovetails with employees’ work and personal lives, ensuring they can learn when and where it works best for them. That also benefits the employer. Improved flexibility often means less need to cover partial shifts while employees train, improved employee engagement and accuracy while working, and other advantages.
Traditional training can be incredibly costly. In-person training could require paid travel, accommodation costs, meal reimbursement, meeting room/venue-related costs, pay for instructors and facilitators, and the cost of printing any course material.
Employers can eliminate those costs with online learning. Travel is unnecessary. Likewise, employees can fit their training into their existing schedules, so there’s no need for meal reimbursement or accommodation-related costs. And with access to pre-made training courses from leading providers today, employers may have little or no costs related to content creation, instructors, or facilitators.
Improved Employee Engagement
Engagement is one of those metrics vital for the success of an organization but difficult to quantify or measure. Forbes defines employee engagement as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” The greater the emotional commitment, the more engaged the employee. Higher engagement levels also lead to improved performance, enhanced productivity, greater loyalty, and increased retention. Boosting engagement levels is critical, and online learning can help.
The most obvious way online learning boosts employee engagement is by providing relevant training that ensures employees have the skills necessary to succeed. When employees see that an employer is willing and able to invest in their success, they immediately become more engaged. However, employers can also bolster long-term engagement by investing in ongoing employee development.
For instance, providing training to help an employee excel in their current role is essential. But it’s just as important to deliver training that prepares them for higher roles within the company. Whenever possible, work with employees to create a career trajectory and then provide training that supports them.
Ease of Customization
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to employee training. Yes, there are things like mandatory corporate training on topics like sexual harassment or compliance with government rules and industry regulations that everyone must complete. But when you look at the bigger picture, training must be customized and personalized to be successful.
Let’s go back to the previous example. An employer works with an employee to create a career trajectory within the organization. The employer must do more than simply outline positions and then leave the employee to discover what they must learn to reach each one. The employer should create a customized plan that supports the employee along that arc, delivering the right training at the right time, personalized to the employee’s unique needs.
Online training makes it simple and affordable to create customized training to suit any career trajectory, organizational strategy, or other needs.
Traditional training is difficult to scale. It’s possible but costly and time-consuming. Depending on the necessary changes, it could mean rescheduling speakers and rebooking venues months later. That delay in training has a palpable effect on business performance, growth, and success.
Online training, on the other hand, is incredibly scalable. Need to deliver training to hundreds of employees at the same time? No problem. Need to train a team of 20 over the weekend? You can do that, too.
Whether you need to train a single employee or an entire department, online training can be scaled up or down with minimal changes to equipment or costs. Depending on the employer’s setup, it could involve no changes at all. Online training is always available. Venues never need to be rebooked. Speakers and instructors never need to be rehired.
Improved Participation and Retention
Online training supports active learning through interactive lessons and modules. The more interactive the content, the greater the employee participation will be. And when employees actively engage with and participate in the learning process, their knowledge retention improves.
Employers can create active training with videos, tests and quizzes, interactive content, gamified sessions, and more. The point is to get employees to participate and take an active role in their development rather than giving them a passive experience. Think of engaging in a physical demonstration rather than reading about how something is done in a book.
Employees retain more knowledge at the end of an online course, which is the ultimate point of training. With improved retention, employees can apply their new skills and knowledge to real-world tasks and responsibilities, improving outcomes for themselves, their teams, and the organization.
Improves the Organization’s Ability to Compete
One of the more tangible, measurable benefits of online learning is the increase in the employer’s ability to compete within the industry. As employee knowledge, loyalty, engagement, and productivity increase, employers gain an important competitive advantage over organizations within the industry that have yet to invest in employee L&D initiatives.
That competitive advantage manifests in many ways, including:
- Improved sales
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Enhanced brand recognition
Ease of Measurement
Traditional learning is challenging to measure. Yes, organizations can track which employees took which courses or sat through which lectures, but what about measuring knowledge retention? What about identifying areas in the training where employees might have struggled to keep up?
Online learning offers ease of measurement through in-depth analytics. Employers can measure everything from the time it takes an employee to create a module to the amount of time spent on individual topics, individual test scores, and more. In turn, that allows employers to tailor L&D content to an employee’s unique needs and requirements.
For example, one employee might need additional support in a problem area. The employer can measure progress and outcomes and then provide additional support. Employers can also use these techniques to assess employee strengths and weaknesses, develop new training plans, and inform retention and promotion strategies.
Once, employers did not see employee L&D as a path requiring mutual participation. Employees were hired for a specific skill set, and any further development was the employee’s responsibility. Today, organizations cannot afford to take that stance. Increased competition, decreasing profit margins, and increasing employee mobility all require a different strategy.
Instituting employee learning and development initiatives increases loyalty, boosts employee retention, and enhances productivity, building stronger brands. However, training options are not created equal. Traditional in-person training is costly, cumbersome, and inefficient. Conversely, online learning is flexible, agile, customizable, affordable, and can be delivered anywhere, at any time.
Investing in employees through L&D programs is critical for any organization that wants to improve its ability to compete. Online learning empowers those programs and the organization’s employees.