The importance of training in creating a motivated workforce dedicated to your company’s purpose.
This little Italian phrase translates into “I am still learning,” and is often said to have been spoken by Michelangelo at the age of 87. It wasn’t, but the image of this accomplished Renaissance man chasing new knowledge at the end of his life is a potent one.
It also captures the dedication to continuous learning at the heart of modern corporate training ideology.
Today’s workplace learning programs are becoming less task oriented (i.e. learn how to build a single widget) and increasingly focused on acquiring transferable knowledge that can be applied to a variety of business challenges. For example, once someone learns how to build an onboarding workflow, they can easily take that knowledge and apply it to other workflow-based projects.
Business leaders are responding to this shift by implementing training programs that help employees acquire skills that can be applied to different areas of the business. And they are reaping benefits far beyond the ability to solve issues and build solutions.
Learning equals loyalty
Employees with access to programs that grow their transferable knowledge are not only more effective—they are more motivated and loyal.
A 2018 LinkedIn learning report found 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. Ninety-four percent! That same LinkedIn report also found that 87% of millennials say development is important in a job compared to 69% of non-millennials.
In a business environment defined by long-running talent wars, no business can ignore the need for a vigorous workplace learning program. Every leader throughout the organization needs to realize that creating loyalty through training isn’t just a good idea—it’s their job. After all, if you aren’t actively involved in your employees’ training, how will you ever truly know—much less tap into—their full potential?
People and purpose
Gen Z and millenials now make up 46% of the workforce, and they approach employment in a very different way than their predecessors.
A recent Gallup poll found younger workers want an employer who cares about their well-being above all else. A comprehensive training program demonstrates an organization’s genuine investment in their employees’ careers.
At the same time, training creates opportunities for employees to contribute to and drive the company’s success, which in turn deepens their engagement with the organization. To round out this virtual cycle, training provides a platform for employees to demonstrate their value, which in turn connects them more deeply to the company.
Done well, training truly can become the connective tissue that unifies an organization’s people and purpose.
Fine-tune your training
Business leaders seeking to deepen employee loyalty and spark motivation can start by assessing their workplace learning program. But it’s not enough to simply offer training opportunities—the program must be judged by the amount of value people feel they are getting out of it.
When you evaluate your training program, consider both the hard and soft skills that make an employee successful. Once you pinpoint these behaviors, it becomes easier to identify which learning and assessment levers to pull. For example, if I know my highest performers are great at data analysis, the “hard skill” might be the effective use of Excel or Tableau. The less obvious—and more highly valuable and transferable—”soft” skill is the ability to perform critical analysis.
A good training program starts by focusing on the outcome or transferable skills you want to measure, then personalizing the experience by making sure employees can get there in a variety of ways. In other words, if someone can demonstrate their critical analysis skills through project work, don’t make them take training in order to “count” their skill. Likewise, if their preference is to take a formal course through a university to gain those skills, make that available and equally relevant to the outcomes you are measuring.
When developing your material, avoid over-engineering something that is effective as a checklist—and don’t create a checklist for something that requires deep practice. Getting the mix and variety right will keep your employees’ interest in the training and make the best use of training resources and time.
Microtraining and micro-certifications deliver bursts of education the minute an employee expresses interest. Because the time commitment is minimal and people can access them immediately, these micro moments that strike while the iron is hot are incredibly effective and appreciated.
For a quick win with major impact, consider creating an organization-wide learning day where teams take a full day to focus only on honing a skill, either personal or professional. It might be spending a day figuring out how to use low-code to solve a team issue. It might be learning how to play the ukelele. Whatever it is, it shows your commitment to supporting people as they better themselves in ways that matter to them.