How L&D Leaders Calculate the ROI of Employee Learning and Development Initiatives
The Future of Learning is Tightly Integrated into the Future of Work
For many decades, people used to follow the principle, “Get a college degree, find a job, retire.” The average employee changed two or three jobs at most during their whole career. In most cases, they worked at a company with the belief that their future was secured. The knowledge they acquired at a university combined with annual job-related training was enough to be in-demand.
The rules have since changed dramatically. In times of massive automation and rapid technological progress, 75 million to 375 million people might need to switch their occupational categories and build new skills. According to Denning and Brown, the half-life of a learned skill is five years. Currently, there are 6.2 million job openings in the US that remain vacant. Organizations struggle to find employees with the right skills since changes happen so quickly that previous knowledge becomes irrelevant. We believe that continuous learning is the most effective solution. Data shows that if employees were well-trained, companies across the board could have been saving about $70,000 annually while seeing a 10% increase in productivity.
We believe that in our day and age, the work itself is a learning experience. Either you do something and learn in the process, or you learn something to get the job done. This is an endless loop as there will always be something you don’t know, so the main goal is to constantly work on improving yourself. Tom Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize recipient, supports this learning approach, citing his friend Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn:
If you ever think of yourself as a finished product, you’re probably finished. Reid’s motto is, “Always be in beta.” Always be in the state of mind of a piece of software that’s about 85 percent done. You throw it over the wall, the community tests it, finds the holes, finds the glitches, they throw it back, you work on it some more, you throw it over the wall again, they test it, and so on. Always think of yourself as if you need to be reengineered, retooled, relearned, retaught constantly. Never think of yourself as “finished”; otherwise, you really will be finished.
The way we will work in the future defines the way we will learn
Technology and globalization influence the way people will work in the future, which defines the way we will learn. Of course, we can’t set clear predictions but one thing remains definite: if you are not ready to be a lifelong learner, you won’t be a lifelong employee.
The learning process can be facilitated not only by the effective learning platform your company offers but also by the work itself. In other words, learning is intertwined with all processes within your organization from onboarding and daily activities to communication and operational processes.
Learning starts from the first day your employees enter the workplace. A carefully designed onboarding training program will not only help them to get up to speed more quickly but will also increase engagement and retention. If your newly hired workers learn to learn at every step, they will transform this useful habit into ongoing learning. Your task is to make this process more enjoyable and productive.
Effective training can be achieved by combining just-in-time-training activities with microlearning that will help to build a personalized learning path tailored to employees’ needs. The material delivered in short, concise chunks when a person needs it creates the perfect conditions for experiential learning to take place and ensures that newly acquired information will transfer to long-term memory.
- Performance triggers
Learning and performance need to be intertwined. If your company has certain indicators of measuring performance levels, then it will be easier for you to track and react immediately to any challenges your employees might deal with. By tracking triggers, your company can take effective actions to avoid serious failures or set up a system that will automatically react with required tasks or activities. Thus, every time your employees struggle to do something, they will receive “just-in-time” training activities targeted to eliminate these challenges.
- Productivity tools
To stay effective in their work, your employees can utilize different productivity tools, such as CRM or streamlined communication for better collaboration, which will consequently enhance productivity; adaptive learning technology that is tailored to each employee’s schedule and knows the best time to deliver training; various business reminders to complete activities that directly influence your company’s KPIs (e.g. push notifications so as not to forget to call a prospect or contact a supplier), and the like.
- Operational processes
A smart and flexible learning platform can easily meet the specific needs of any company. No matter how many employees you have, where your offices are located, the number of departments, or the distinctive features of any job responsibilities, your learning platform should come up with the right learning path for every employee. That means that training tasks and activities will not only follow the workflow but will also keep processes well organized.
Your employees will perform better when they feel valued and are rewarded for their efforts. Various point systems, badges, and leaderboards can serve as great motivators. Once an employee finishes a training task, the system assigns points and moves them forward to apply their newly acquired skill. For some important milestones, employees could receive badges and unlock new content. Thanks to leaderboards, they can see where they are among their peers and compete to achieve better results.
If you have a large company with distributed teams and various departments, communication could be broken. Negotiations, decision-making processes, collaboration, and teamwork are all based on effective communication. To get clear directions on what to do to achieve certain company goals and avoid misunderstandings, it’s important to have a good communication system. Communities, direct messages, and discussion boards are all effective tools for managing your teams and getting your employees to work together around business goals.
- Daily activities
Daily activities are connected to the everyday operations your employees are accounted for. Routine training tasks help to maintain your workers’ skill level so that they stay relevant. Whenever they encounter some difficulty in the process of performing their duties, daily training activities will provide necessary content for upskilling.
We believe that the future belongs to those who don’t stop learning. Improving employees’ knowledge and skills is not only crucial for any kind of business to remain afloat, but it’s also essential to its existence. Learning is that very cog in the machine that makes it move forward. Business operations are not simply intertwined; they just can’t properly function on their own. This is why the smart integration of training into daily activities will enable any business to grow and succeed.
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