Employee development technology: staying ahead in the digital age

employee development technology
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Too many companies are merely paying lip service to employee development without properly investing. It’s time to truly invest or risk losing the best staff.

More employees than ever value development opportunities as an intrinsic part of their job, yet three quarters of UK companies admit they don't have a learning culture.

We live in an age where our perceptions of workplace learning are rapidly changing.

If employee development was once considered a tick-box formality to be conducted by HR staff, this is no longer the case.

With their working lives set to be longer than ever, today's employees are beginning to demand genuine opportunities to build learning into their professional repertoire. It is, in a sense, an integral part of the job.

Despite this, the enthusiasm for personal development from employees is not always matched by their employers.

Expectation versus reality

In fact, three quarters of the companies who took part in our study into improving employee engagement admitted to not having a learning culture.

Essentially, there is a significant mismatch when it comes to the developmental opportunities employees expect, and what they ultimately receive.

The effects of this are unsurprisingly harmful, with employees plateauing in their roles and ultimately seeing their motivation ebb away.

With employees left unmotivated, the likelihood is that more and more will leave in search of more fulfilling roles; the consequences of which need no explaining.

Bridging the gap

Where does this disparity leave us? It’s clear that, employers need to bridge the gap between their continuing professional development (CPD) provision and what their employees are asking for.

Put simply, senior leadership teams, together with their HR teams, need to champion an employee development strategy that rides the digital wave currently coasting through our businesses.

If effectively implemented, modern employee development software facilitates the move away from older practices in favour of employee-driven learning.

They need to provide a modern, flexible learning and development environment that will create a more engaged workforce.

What’s holding businesses back?

It is not the case that employers are oblivious to the benefits of devising an impactful employee development strategy.

Instead, the likely reason behind a lack of learning culture implementation comes from the perceived challenges of constructing a natural ‘learning environment’.

Mastering a strategy that does this is not a mission that can be undertaken and accomplished in an afternoon’s work. An effective workplace learning programme doesn’t come at a click of the fingers.

That said, it is not an impossible task and smart investment in the right tech very much represents the first hurdle.

If effectively implemented, modern employee development software facilitates the move away from older practices in favour of employee-driven learning.

Flexible, self-directed learning is more and more becoming the method of choice preferred by modern employees.

Choosing an effective platform for learning

Workplace learning needs to match the agility and fast-changing nature of modern business, staff need to have the option to dip in and out of training when and where possible, rather than alter their hectic calendars to comply with arbitrary tasks and time slots.

Learning and development is no different to any other aspect of business; failing to modernise here would be akin to remaining defiantly pro-fax machine.

Intelligent workplace training platforms can minimise the risk of employees forgetting ‘soft’ skills.

Providing opportunities for CPD through the provision of employee development software is key, but in a busy marketplace, how do companies differentiate one from the other? What are the hallmarks of a platform that is likely to be effective rather than defective?

One of the critical metrics that ought to be considered is rate of adoption. It goes without saying that it would be futile to invest in a programme that is so unintuitive that it is not used by staff.

When learning is self-led, it is absolutely critical that ease of use is considered. Employees will often be fitting in brief stints of learning around their busy schedules - there’s not time to be delayed by difficulties in using the software.

The workplace where staff can effortlessly pick up skills training where they left off, intuitively harnessing the potential of effective employee development software, is the workplace where a learning culture will best thrive.

Boosting staff performance and employee retention

Having a learning culture means that employees can be armed with the digital skills required for this year and beyond.

By and large, teams across the country need to be trained to adapt to the challenges looming in the near future - the arrival of automation and the impact of robotics, for instance.

Training courses, peer-learning and instructive feedback via good software can all help to achieve this.

Continued professional development instils a sense of fulfilment and loyalty in employees.

At the same time, employees will also need to safeguard their uniquely human skills.

Again, intelligent workplace training platforms can minimise the risk of employees forgetting ‘soft’ skills; judgement, empathy, free thinking, which, without attention, are at risk of diminishing in an age of digitisation.

Promoting continuous learning

The benefits of having a true learning culture don’t stop here. Proactive workplace learning will also significantly improve staff retention.

Encouraging employees to capitalise on these flexible learning platforms will go a long way towards preventing workplace fatigue and ‘plateauing’.

Instead, workers are encouraged to keep developing, broadening their horizons and diversifying their day-to-day experience.

It goes without saying that this is enormously beneficial in terms of boosting employee satisfaction, and in turn, loyalty.

After all, 98% of respondents in our employee engagement study said that developmental opportunities were either a decisive or important factor when deciding whether to stay with their employer.

An effective workplace learning platform can arm a workforce with the human and digital skills that are critical to employees right now.

In doing so, continued professional development instils a sense of fulfilment and loyalty in employees.

If organisations can successfully implement modern employee development strategies, then they are in a great position to thrive in the digital age.

Interested in this topic? You may also enjoy reading Tailored training: harness the latest technology.

About Kenny Nicholl

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