Personalize to Engage: Making Your Employee Training Effective

We are all born different, and this does not change over time. The way we talk, look, learn and perceive the world define us as individuals, and we all have unique sets of attributes. For this reason, a “one size fits all” approach can never be most effective way to train and motivate your employees. It’s time to embrace personalization, particularly in training. But before we go any further, let’s draw our attention to behavioral psychology.

Personalization is not a benefit, it’s a necessity

According to research done by the University of Texas, people’s preference for personalization boils down to two key factors: the possibility to control and the avoidance of information overload. When people understand that learning corresponds to their interests, goals, and needs, it gives them an internal feeling of being in control that then leads to a more successful outcome. Personalization also helps to overcome information overload because the trainees don’t have to sort through loads of information. They learn only the material they need to know now. Moreover, to get and process information people need both time and concentration. A Microsoft study has revealed that today our average attention span is only eight seconds. Basically, the time trainees used to waste on filtering out unnecessary material should be redirected to information acquisition.

If we step aside from customized learning, we can easily see that personalized experiences are promoted in many other aspects of our lives. How often do you come across ads that are recommended: “just for you”? How do social media feeds work? How are search engines tailored to your needs? How do you get recommendations for clothes, music, news, and movies you may like? Tracking algorithms work for you. In fact, Janrain research discovered that 74% of customers get irritated when they see content that bears no relationship to their interests. That’s  why personalization is powerful. It keeps you feeling positive, interested, and willing to consider something you may not have considered before.

How can we apply this in the workplace? The leading specialists in pedagogy emphasize the importance of personalized learning, based on the following facts:

  • It provides an understanding of an individual’s interests, needs, strong and weak points, and current skills;
  • It allows learners to consume information at their own pace, consequently giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery;
  • It makes the process of learning more meaningful and relevant, which in turn leads to greater achievements.

Personalized training leads to employee engagement

The above-mentioned statements are valid for students, and they can be easily applied to employee training because the process of information acquisition stays the same while the direct applicability of the newly-acquired knowledge has even greater importance for the trainee.

One of the most disturbing pain points companies face today is a question of how to manage onboarding, training, and ensure the continuous engagement of their employees. The solution lies in personalizing these steps. Companies spend thousands of dollars on training programs that don’t give the desired results. Why? The abundance of information that is not always relevant, and outdated one-size-fits-all training. And there is also the disappointing report showing that 3 out of 4 employees forget almost everything they have been taught during the last mandatory training session. In addition, 57% of employees complete training just because they have to. They have no motivation, and there are no signs of engagement among the employees.

Training programs should be adapted to the employees’ learning styles, interests, and needs. This can be done in the following ways:

  • By providing on-demand content that is a part of just-in-time training;
  • By making content available in ways that allow it to be easily accessed anytime, anywhere;
  • By analyzing the available employee data to find out what their skill gaps are, and their learning needs;
  • By giving employees an opportunity to “shadow” their more experienced colleagues and involve them in experiential learning; and
  • By giving the employees immediate feedback on their performance.

Why personalize training? Because that’s the way both companies and their employees will thrive.

Benefits for companies

  1. Reducing employee turnover. Employees will increase their expertise on an ongoing basis, helping them to reach their career goals within the company.
  2. Improved productivity. Employees get on-demand training that is directly related to their job, improve their existing skills, and spend more time on actual tasks rather than on de-motivating “unnecessary training courses for everybody.”
  3. Higher customer satisfaction. A well-trained workforce produces better goods and renders higher quality services.
  4. Stronger market position. Qualified employees, top-notch goods and services, and satisfied customers make any company more competitive.
  5. Improved employer image to attract the best talent. When candidates know that a company is ready to invest in its employees’ development, the candidates are more interested in working for the company. 

Benefits for employees

  1. Increased retention of information. By presenting information in different learning styles, the employee has the best chance to learn and will enjoy the training session more. Presenting the information in the way each employee learns best boosts the acquisition and retention of information.
  2. A sense of fulfillment. Employees understand that the company is investing in their development and taking care of them, helping the employees to feel appreciated.
  3. More time on their hands. When unnecessary training is eradicated and employees learn only the things they need to successfully complete a task, they spend less time in training and more time being productive at their job.
  4. Flexible learning. Employees are able to learn at the time and place they prefer.
  5. Career opportunities. Better results, improved skills, constant renewal and knowledge acquisition leads to higher chances of being promoted.

A sneak peek into the future: Personalized training modification

To keep your workforce engaged and well-trained, your learning methods must constantly evolve. With the further development of technologies, your company’s expansion into new products, services and markets, and increasing competition, the only way to survive will be through adapting quickly to changes. Thus, training programs will include necessary chunks of information and also “methods of survival.” One of the primary responsibilities of managers in the future will be helping their employees to learn quickly and effectively, in order to stay ahead of the competition. Probably, the majority of companies will follow Arie de Geus’ principle: “The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.” Employees won’t separate work from learning; instead, they will come to the conclusion that work is learning in and of itself. One more proof personalized training will be in demand in the future is that it’s a sweet spot that combines time and resources for people. It’s clear that we can’t predict everything, but with personalized training employees will be well equipped enough to respond to the current challenges of their work.

The future is just around the corner. The question of how to stay competitive and productive is still on the agenda. One way to deal with it is to invest in your employees’ development and training programs in ways that will lead to successful training and increased job productivity. Of course, it’s not the easiest way to conduct training and it will definitely take some time to become familiar with personalized training methods, but the results are worth your effort.

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