Recent research paints a gloomy picture of the effectiveness of today’s enterprise training*:
■ 74 percent of organizations use traditional learning methods that fail to empower employees
■ 70 percent of what is learned is forgotten in one day
■ It takes 8 to 12 months for people to become fully productive with classroom learning
■ The shelf-life of a learned skill is five years
It’s becoming increasingly clear that traditional learning is not effective for today’s enterprise challenges. The digital skills gap grows wider and the pace of technological change shows no sign of slowing. As more companies move to cloud-based technology and frequent feature updates, employees have an even greater need for effective, continuous training.
Some may view this as a reason to panic, but we see it as a necessary nudge toward a new way of working, which requires culture change and a focus on the human element. Instead of panicking, organizations should approach these workplace changes as opportunities to kick-start (or re-energize) their digital transformation efforts and give training a much-needed overhaul.
The world was remarkably different when traditional training approaches were devised:
■ Employees had fewer distractions—no smart phones, no email, no internet
■ Many knowledge workers stuck to a standard schedule—taking work home or being always-on was uncommon
■ Software was updated less often—about every five years
■ Business strategy also changed infrequently—quick pivots were rare
When you consider that employees consume five times more information today than they did 30 years ago and that 70 percent of workers say they feel distracted at work, traditional training’s failings are not surprising. Workers today have very little time for learning—five hours or less per week for a majority of people, according to Bersin by Deloitte.
For the modern workforce, which comprises multiple generations and preferred learning styles, training must be quick, effective and relevant to their jobs. It should be available when they need it, and accessible from anywhere and on any device. Above all, it should be ongoing and designed to meet rapidly changing needs.
Simulation-based training is one method that has been gaining attention in the enterprise—it is a practical approach to learning that enables users to experiment with applications and features without the fear of making mistakes. Using simulation, employees can gain real-life experiences in a controlled environment, receive immediate feedback, and retain more of what they learn.
Other approaches, such as supercharged videos and self-help portals, enable workers to get the help they need in the moment they need it. For example, with supercharged videos, time-crunched employees can find chunks of relevant information quickly, without having to spend extra time viewing or fast-forwarding through content they don’t need at that moment. They can get the answers they need and get back to work.
As more companies move to cloud-based technology and frequent feature updates, employees have an even greater need for effective, continuous training
From an organizational standpoint, the main objective of training should not be to check a box, but to teach employees how to use technology to increase productivity. Learning should help people get up and running quickly to meet the demands of the digital workplace, and it should enable organizations to get the most value out of their tech investments.
And those demands will only increase. For example, Microsoft recently began officially sounding the alarm for Windows 7 end-of-support—organizations that are still using the 9-year-old operating system have only 10 months to upgrade to Windows 10. After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide technical support, software updates, or security updates or fixes.
For organizations that are in the process of moving to Windows 10 or have already done so, Microsoft has an alarm for you, too: In the coming weeks, the company will release the April 2019 update, aka Windows 10 version 1903, which is the first major feature update since Microsoft changed its support lifecycle last year. For businesses that haven’t yet decided upon an upgrade strategy, it’s crunch time.
And, truthfully, in the digital workplace, it will always be crunch time. As we see it, the only option companies have is to dive headlong into the digital future.
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.