In order to maintain a competitive edge in 2019 and beyond, companies need to invest in staff training to retain talent, but they also must prepare for the challenges of Industry 4.0.
With a new year comes new challenges and opportunities. For corporate L&D teams, the year ahead is set to be both an exciting and challenging one for two main reasons.
Firstly, the world of work is on the periphery of great change. Industry 4.0 is around the corner and with it is coming a demand for new skill sets. L&D teams will play a pivotal role in ensuring the workforce is ready and able for technological change.
Secondly, in today’s fast-paced job market, L&D is quickly rising as a sought-out benefit for many employees. To help attract and retain the best talent, L&D teams must ensure that their training offering is exceptional.
To meet these objectives, L&D teams will need to be strategic in their 2019 planning. This is why they should set themselves the following new year’s resolutions.
Resolution 1: Offer employees training that engages and develops them
A 2018 survey from Totaljobs found that two in three workers have changed jobs due to a lack of L&D opportunities. Retaining talent is a high priority for organisations. While factors like location and enjoyment can also play a part in an employee leaving, so too can a poor training offering.
Employees these days care about learning opportunities and career development above and beyond traditional novelty ‘perks’. This is because a structured L&D programme demonstrates to employees that their company values their personal development and wants them to progress.
In turn, this increases employee loyalty and helps companies attract the best talent. Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t, according to recruitment company, Robert Half.
It is important that L&D teams create training programmes that are engaging and useful to the modern worker. Modern workers are time-pressed and often mobile. They do not have time to attend classroom-based away days. They want to learn at their own convenience and on the job.
Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t.
L&D should create learning programmes that are digital and on demand, allowing employees to access relevant and trusted microlearning content on their mobile, iPad or laptop. The programme should account for the fact that individuals have different learning preferences, and offer different learning modalities: books, videos, quizzes and so on.
The user interface should be intuitive to use and mimic the Netflix-style applications of today. If employees find the interface unappealing or difficult to navigate, it is unlikely that they will use the L&D programme – no matter how good the content is.
It is also very important that content is curated. Too much content can be overwhelming for learners and actually prevent them from finding the resources they need. Curation is necessary so that learners can search for, share and manage content in a timely manner.
Resolution 2: Prepare employees for Industry 4.0 with digital and soft skills training
Most companies do not currently have enough staff with the right skills to understand and work with technologies such as AI and machine learning, which will soon automate many processes throughout the enterprise.
Businesses need to prepare for this change – often referred to as Industry 4.0 – before it arrives. Currently, there is a significant gap between the IT department – where there are pockets of understanding of how to use big data, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning etc. to drive innovation – and the talent necessary to carry out all the functions.
L&D teams should therefore look to upskill their current workforce so they can use and understand these incoming technologies. By providing staff with opportunities to develop these skills, it is possible to generate all the talent an organisation could ever need with reduced investment and greater efficiency.
Future business performance lies in building skills rather than buying them. L&D should work with the wider HR department to look at career mobility options for their staff, and ask the following questions: what skills do we need to equip our workforce with? Which employees would be interested in learning new digital skills and potentially exploring new career paths? Whose jobs are vulnerable to automation – can we upskill them?
L&D teams should therefore look to upskill their current workforce so they can use and understand these incoming technologies.
Training paths should then be tailored for employees, depending on the skills they would like to learn. These programmes should also take into account innately human skills like ethical decision-making and complex problem-solving, which AI cannot yet learn.
It’s important that employees are taught the value of these skills and how to harness them. As businesses rely more on AI to carry out routine functions, human skills will become increasingly important in giving the workforce a one up over machines.
These are only two resolutions, but they will be important as we go into 2019, as L&D teams will pushed to digitalise and innovate. The world of work is changing at a rapid pace and in the coming year, L&D teams that focus on making their training relevant and appealing to employees will be best preparing them for the future of work.
About Agata Nowakowska
Agata Nowakowska is AVP at Skillsoft.