On-going Employee Training – A Waste of Time or an Investment?
Success in today’s highly competitive environment is all about being fast and competitive, and this translates to shortening the learning curve when adopting new technologies. While training is touted as the obvious solution, most enterprises are caught in the trap of the obvious, failing to estimate whether training is indeed worth its while. The reality is much of the on-going employee training is worthless. McKinsey & Co. estimates training enhances the performance of only 25% of the employees.
Employers train the workforce, in hope, they gain competencies to handle a new technology better. However, today’s world is marked by fast-paced changes, and in a state of continuous flux. Change is the only constant, and the odds are by the time the trained employees gain mastery over the new technology, it may already be obsolete, to be replaced by something new. Just to put things in perspective, training certificates denoting competencies in Dbase, Foxpro, Sybase and many other technologies that were a rage not too long ago are now not even worth the paper it is printed on. Each new wave of tech advancements, such as the cloud, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Immersive Technology, and others, demolish existing paradigms.
In the fast-changing environment, success depends not on training, but on adaptability. Only employees who have the skill-set to learn something new, and learn it fast without being spoon-fed, or wait for a formal training process, will succeed. Equally important is the uncanny ability to unlearn what is no longer required and may become counterproductive.
Another case against on-going employee training is its disruptive nature. Training is time away from what the employee is supposed to be doing, and cuts into productivity, with an uncertain promise of better productivity in the days ahead. There are too many variables in today’s fast-paced world to hold with any optimism the investment in training will recoup lost productivity in the future.
However, doing away with training and leaving employees on their own is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The solution rather is a shift in approach. The fact remains employees may remain technologically challenged with the new technology and may be hamstrung in doing their jobs optimally without training. The solution lies in adopting a new approach to training, along with a combination of intelligent work design, greater transparency, and developing “democratic apps” and other solutions.
Training Needs a Reality Check
Training requires a reality check. Training fails to realize its objectives mainly due to lack of strategic focus. Many enterprises go agog with the latest technology trends, rather than taking the time to understand the skills most critical to the business’s stage of development.
The most effective training offers practical skills critical to the present stage of organizational requirements. Training for anything not required in the next six months is pretty much a wasted effort. With high employee turnover, coupled with a short technology shelf-life, the only metric that really matters for the enterprise is the short-term or immediate return on the training dollar.
There is a need for effective follow-up as well. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) estimates U.S. firms invested about $156 billion on employee learning (2011), but as high as 90% of the new skills are lost within a year, owing to lack of follow-up to lock in the gains.
Road-test the training. Enterprises who do not give employees the opportunities to apply the newly acquired skills, by not facilitating them with the right tools and technologies are frittering away their investment in training.
The actual conduct of the training also makes a big difference. There is also a case of avoiding boring marathon sessions, which are disruptive in nature and offer training in short bites or capsules, preferably on the job. Hands-on training, during the course of work, offers promise for being most relevant, and the least disruptive. Upskill offers a competency-based training software for enterprises that combines advanced technology, quality content and expertise to discover potential and maximize the productivity of your workforce.
Intelligent Work Design
Success depends on making optimal use of every dollar. A part of the investment on training could be diverted to intelligent work design, to deliver much more efficient and long-lasting returns.
Intelligent work design makes work processes simple, and removes complexities from the equation, reducing or even doing away with the need for training. Automation of routine processes, and the use of Artificial Intelligence to relegate to the back-end many works that now require technical expertise would especially make the need for training redundant.
The Push towards a Learning Organization
Peter Senge, the noted management expert expounded the concept of a learning organization way back in the 1990s. Senge defines the learning organization as one where the enterprise nurtured and encouraged expansive patterns of thinking, the workforce continually expanded their capacity to create the desired results, and work together for the realization of mutual goals. In other words, employees are self-motivated and learn on their own
Greater transparency, mainly brought about by demolishing data silos and barriers of knowledge, makes many hitherto challenging tasks explicit and furthers the cause of a learning organization
Democratic apps leverage the power of simplicity, making the front end seamless and obvious without the need for any training for even the most technically challenged user.
Side by side with democratic apps, there is also a case for promoting the BYOD culture. When employees bring their own familiar device, they can handle most of the workflows without a learning curve.
It requires professional expertise to redesign systems, and roll out highly intuitive apps that take the complexity out of the equation. With our extensive experience cutting across sectors, and our highly skilled talent pool, we are ideally poised to partner with you in the quest to develop intelligent mobile solutions that reduce your training budget.