What it Takes to Train the Modern Workforce

POSTED on September 5, 2019 IN BrightWise

As we prepare for a future in which machines become our partners in the execution of “people helping people,” investing in our human potential has to be a priority.

As first seen on CUinsight.com.

It’s no secret that the ways humans work is about to change drastically. Researchers believe automation will fully replace around 5 percent of all occupations. That’s a sizable number. More important than the number of jobs replaced, however, is the number of jobs changed. 

The work humans will retain is expected to require a wider array of knowledge and more creative problem solving abilities – areas where automation can’t compete with the human brain. This has sparked a global dialogue around reskilling workers, as well as big-picture initiatives from several large employers working to broaden the skillsets of their people. 

Obviously, workplace training will be essential to achieving objectives around skills enhancement for the AI era. Yet, traditional methods are not likely to cut it. Change is happening too fast, and training strategies have to evolve to keep up. 

Fortunately, emerging training technologies and new ways of thinking about adult learning are providing something of a shot in the arm of workplace education. 

In addition to allowing for more dynamic trainee engagement through things like on-demand content and gamification, technology in training has had a big impact in terms of measurement. Dashboard-style platforms, for example, allow managers (and regulators) to see at a glance how frequently and proficiently employees are achieving learning objectives.  

As for new ways of thinking around adult learning, there are several key things the training industry has discovered about the ways in which employees absorb information and apply it to the day-to-day. The emerging trend of microlearning, for example, exposes employees to brief educational experiences that give them the flexibility to train without the disruption of a traditional workshop or course. And then there’s the concept of the flipped classroom, which allows employees to digest training content on their own time and then get together as a group to discuss the themes. 

The technology and people discoveries we now have at our disposal, are bringing about several new best practices for training the modern workforce:   

Keep it brief – Because today’s employee is exceedingly pressed for time, devoting small chunks of the day to training simply works better than full days or even a few consecutive hours of learning. Cloud-based platforms that allow for continuous uploading and downloading of fresh content provide excellent support for microlearning initiatives. 

Keep it fun – Employees, like consumers, are increasingly motivated by experiences. Turning training into an event that inspires team camaraderie or plays on the competitive spirit creates an environment in which participants are much more likely to retain information. Gamification modules are the perfect accompaniment to entertainment-based strategies, as they allow employees to watch and reward one another for progress. 

Keep it diverse – Rather than concentrate all training activities in one genre, deploying a diverse set of learning activities accomplishes a couple really important things. First, it keeps employees guessing. Not knowing exactly what to expect tends to pique interest. Second, varied types of training accounts for the different styles of learning we know exist within every group of employees. Whereas some adults learn best through small, experiential engagements, others learn best by reviewing written coursework or digesting content through a lecture-style workshop. 

Keep it measurable – In highly regulated industries, such as financial services, there are several stakeholders interested in employees’ ability to learn and apply new things. Platforms that allow managers to “test” trainees are much easier to integrate today than before. An added benefit of technology that tracks is that it allows employees to monitor their own progress. Everyone loves to check off boxes on a to-do list. Giving trainees the ability to keep track of their coursework is a great way to achieve momentum. 

An executive survey earlier this year indicated employee training and development was the biggest area of HR investment businesses were planning for 2019. Given the intense competition for employees and the equally strong pressure to transform for the digital era, it makes sense employers would want to devote resources to improving their human assets. 

Employers are not the only ones to value ongoing skills improvement, however. Employees, too, appreciate opportunities to grow and expand their knowledge base. Credit union leaders, in particular, typically understand that deepening their skill sets has a direct impact on the financial health of their members. As we prepare for a future in which machines become our partners in the execution of “people helping people,” investing in our human potential has to be a priority. Now’s the time to polish up those training strategies for the modern era, ensuring that as our jobs change, we can change right along with them.

This article was written by Wes Mallgren, BrightWise Content Manager.

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