How to elevate employee training in the digital workplace

“If you digitise a flawed process, you get a digital flawed process” is common wisdom in 2022 – and it applies to employee training. How can it be done better though? Felix Eichler, CTO and co-founder, Userlane shares some thoughts on how companies have mastered the shift towards digital workplaces.

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Extraordinary societal changes and the transformed paradigm of work have turned hybrid workplaces into the “new normal”. Workforces are now more digital, diverse, and dispersed than ever before, requiring businesses to build their capabilities with a greater sense of urgency.

These developments have only increased reliance on digital technology, making it, in many cases, essential for businesses to quickly upskill employees to use both new role-specific software and company-wide collaboration tools.

Today, employers must completely recalibrate their employee training strategies to match the practical realities of hybrid work. Simply moving to virtual training courses isn’t the right answer, as they are likely to be more costly and challenging to organise, without necessarily delivering the right outcomes for employees. A more practical, personalised, and measurable approach is required.

This isn’t to say that hybrid working has suddenly generated a need for businesses to overhaul their training initiatives completely. What we’re witnessing is simply an acceleration of an existing process of rethinking and modernising how employees learn in the workplace.

With all of this in mind, here are four practical tips for organisations looking to elevate their employee training approach to match today’s digital-first working environment:

1. Support every type of learner

Today, we have a heightened appreciation for workforce diversity and the fact that every individual has a different way of working best. The same applies to workplace learning, where a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach simply doesn’t work. Not only do most people have individual learning preferences, but many also require any important role or department-specific training.

Initially, it might take longer to assess learning and development needs at an individual or role-specific level. However, it will put you in a stronger position to tailor appropriate training and allocate the right resources. Personalisation will make training more effective and yield better results for the business in the longer term.

Critically, don’t disregard new starters. High-quality and engaging employee onboarding (including any required training) in the hybrid workplace is critical. Without it, new recruits could quickly start to feel isolated since they might not have in-office access to their peers to ask questions, or run through a quick tutorial. A 2018 study from Jobvite revealed that a third of new employees quit their jobs within 90 days of employment. This could most likely be laid at the door of inadequate onboarding or training support.

2. Bring training to where it’s needed

Traditional, in-person, group training sessions led by an expert instructor still have their place and can be an effective kick-starter for the learning journey. However, they should not be the sole training method, as logistics and cost make it difficult to scale across large organisations. Not to mention that the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve shows that learners forget 90% of what they have learned in the first seven days. Many HR and L&D leaders in charge of organising employee training realise that there needs to be a shift towards learning which is embedded, context-sensitive,

independent, and practical. But they also know that this will require an upfront investment in a more modern way of doing things.

For softer skills, businesses should push employees to pursue objectives that exercise these skills. For harder skills, such as those involving software or technology, they must encourage employees to conduct self-directed learning while working directly with the systems. Depending on their complexity, this could be tricky without proper support, hence the next tip.

3. In a digital world, invest in digital skills

Job roles will only become more digital within a hybrid work arrangement, meaning businesses’ reliance on software – and by extension the need for strong ‘digital adoption’ - will only continue to increase.

Digital adoption is all about getting people to accept, use and ultimately maximise the benefits of new technology. Inadequate digital adoption can lead to frustration and lost productivity for employees, as well as headaches for IT and finance teams.

And it does. Userlane’s State of Digital Adoption research shows that four in ten employees report frequent frustration or difficulty using software, with nearly all businesses (96%) are experiencing software adoption challenges. The scale of this frustration is quite worrying when you consider that many employees use multiple software applications daily.

Nine in ten (88%) of respondents agreed that a frustration-free software process is key to their happiness and productivity at work, while more than three-quarters (78%) conceded that remote and hybrid working arrangements contributed to an increase in digital adoption challenges.

Finding a way to conduct effective software training cost-efficiently and at scale is a looming challenge for many tech-driven companies. In fact, the average mid to large-sized organisation in the UK spends more than £2,000 per year per employee on software training.

One of the most effective solutions to the software training challenge is a Digital Adoption Platform, which improves scalability by providing embedded, interactive training guides for users within the software itself, thereby cutting the cost and effort of traditional training.

The key principle behind a Digital Adoption Platform is helping employees to ‘learn and do’ simultaneously, rather than ‘learn and then do’. It promotes productive, independent learning and is always available – eliminating any potential issues with knowledge retention.

4. Track and measure success

Developing a robust employee training strategy serves little purpose if you can’t track its efficiency. Tracking is necessary to link it to outcomes and identify areas for improvement. Several methods are available, and to obtain a complete picture of training efficiency, utilising various metrics is likely to be the best option.

It’s particularly important to be able to use metrics to answer the following questions:

● How satisfied are employees with the training, and has it met their needs?

● Do employees understand, and can they do new things?

● Are they adopting and applying the new tools they’ve been trained in?

● How has the training impacted business goals?

Lastly, determine ways to simplify reporting on training outcomes. This is usually easier to perform in a digital training solution which can track user behaviour and progress, as well as provide built-in data analytics functionality. These capabilities can be found in the right Digital Adoption platform, e-learning platform, or learning management software.

Modern business, modern training

Designing an employee training strategy suited to a hybrid, digital workplace is more than selecting the right solution and managing its integration. After all, its success depends on how well you communicate with employees and team leaders, and personalise training to their needs.

Providing the training and resources they need will ensure better engagement, improved productivity, and a greater return on investment. Because after all, we don’t want to just digitize existing flaws, but use digital transformation as an opportunity reach new heights.

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