A version of this post was originally published in Entrepreneur on December 20, 2021.
Each January, we promise to turn a new leaf and work harder to achieve our goals. However, often that’s easier said than done. Some studies show that only four percent of people stick to all their New Year’s resolutions. Many abandon ship within months or even weeks.
But I’m not talking here about resolutions related to exercise or other forms of self-improvement. For companies, the new year brings an opportunity to define new business-related goals and resolutions – and put processes in place to follow through.
3 Training resolutions for companies in 2022
Given my background in education, I’m particularly passionate about driving learning and development (L&D) improvements. Amidst the upheaval we’ve seen the past two years, and the turnover companies are experiencing during the “great resignation,” L&D is especially important to business continuity and resilience, employee retention and great customer experiences.
So let’s look at key training resolutions companies can make for 2022 – and ways to keep them! – that will be a win-win (win) for organizations, their employees and customers alike.
1. Focus on upskilling and reskilling
As market conditions, industry regulations, job requirements and customer needs evolve, employees often need to “unlearn” and relearn key information and competencies. They have to diversify their skill sets. Closing knowledge gaps can help employees grow their confidence, perform better and feel more secure about their future.
Plus, upskilling and reskilling is good for the business too! Consider this information from Deloitte’s 2021 organizational resilience report, which notes that “an adaptable workforce begets a resilient culture.” The study found that business leaders ranked “flexibility and adaptability” as the workforce trait most important to their organization’s future. In addition, 69% of C-level executives whose companies had implemented training or rotational programs to help reskill workers before the pandemic said that their organizations weathered the events of 2020 “well/very well,” compared to their peers.
So how do you know when employees can use a knowledge or skills refresh, and on what? Combine a “gut-check” from managers with training performance data and training needs assessments. Taking inventory of employee knowledge and performance at planned intervals can give organizations the momentum to follow through on their upskilling and reskilling goals.
It’s also important to note that these learning processes don’t just have to be part of structured, formal programs. You can enable employees to tap into various learning ecosystems (including reputable online communities, wikis, forums and knowledge bases), just-in-time videos and other “digestible,” mobile-ready content. Incorporating gamification can also make upskilling and reskilling fun.
2. Develop training experiences for the hybrid workforce
Wherever your people are, they need training – whether they’re onboarding, learning about new products, messaging or strategies or undergoing compliance training. Chances are, in the year ahead, many of these activities will be conducted remotely.
This gives organizations an opportunity to strategically employ different training modalities, considering the right approach for the situation and learners. Keep in mind that gathering everyone together, especially when your employee base spans time zones, can be difficult. At CYPHER LEARNING, we offer all-hands meetings at multiple times, when they need to be live. Still, live training – conducted in-person or online – may be a good fit for interactive activities such as role-plays. In many other instances, asynchronous e-learning, which fits the learner’s schedule and pace, makes more sense.
Once learners have taken the online training and demonstrated their knowledge, it’s also important that their training experiences not be one-sided. Managers should commit to delivering feedback efficiently and in a format suited to their employees through online chats, audio recordings, or even videos.
How can organizations follow through and see if their training experiences meet the needs of their hybrid workforce? Focus on learning goals rather than hours logged, and solicit feedback from trainers and learners alike.
Read more: Top 4 challenges of training a hybrid team
3. Don’t neglect the “soft side” of training
When I talk about the soft side of training, it’s about developing soft skills and seeing how employees themselves feel about their training.
Of course, employees need more than just knowledge about your business and its products to do their jobs well. So commit to providing training on other important topics: communication skills, empathy, time management, how to learn online, diversity, equity and inclusion, among others.
There’s typically no need to reinvent the wheel – pre-packaged modules on topics like these exist and can be customized for your business. And you can stick to your goal of addressing key issues by creating a training content calendar.
Also, query employees about the range of training they participate in and training formats. What did they like best? Where would they suggest improvements? Interestingly, soon, learning management systems (LMSs) will likely incorporate learners’ ratings of training content into their learning journeys – so your employees can continue to pursue the topics and types of content that interest them and relate most to their professional development.
The benefits of defining, refining, and keeping training goals are many, ranging from a more skilled and adaptable workforce to more fulfilled employees, better talent retention, improved business results.
So whether it’s these resolutions or others, use the new year to gain new perspectives into your training initiatives and align them with your overall business goals. At my company, where we’ve been growing rapidly over the last year, we’re looking to enhance new employee onboarding and measure the results over an extended period of time.