Regardless of where a company resides on the continuum of professional development for their employees, most agree that people (employees, customers, and others) are intrinsic to a company’s success. Today’s businesses know that investing in professional development for their employees is one avenue for reaching people important to their success. Companies realize they can’t make anything happen for the better unless they have the right people with the right skills, knowledge, and preparation to be successful.
If your business landscape doesn’t include employees with the right skills and knowledge, you will probably struggle. You must care for, feed, and invest in your company’s and your employees’ future. But many flounder when confronted with how to build the workforce of the future. Your best bet is to take a page from the playbook of successful companies to help you determine where to start building the talent of the future.
Post COVID-19 flexibility
It’s difficult to talk about post-COVID when new variants and challenges continually crop up, but you can learn a lot from companies that evolved or are still evolving. Flexibility is a game-changer, based on defining what has changed and how to address that change.
First, remote workforces are the norm. No one imagined this would be a fact in 2021, but here we are. Every company is different, but the vast majority need to find a way to deliver professional development (PD) to remote workers that’s effective and efficient. We’re asking employees to work in different ways, and we must prepare to offer PD that meets this new paradigm.
Second, people want choices. Individuals have varying needs; some want a physical space where they can connect with co-workers while others are absolutely thrilled that they don’t have to commute. Each worker’s physical atmosphere drives what choices they need. Regardless of their desire for more or less physical space, most employees benefit from PD that’s offered when and where they need it.
Offering alternative PD
Post-COVID, companies see an increase in employees wanting to learn and progress. People are taking stock of where they are in their employment and where they want to be in the future. Providing the education and PD that helps them get there can boost your retention rate.
Many businesses discover that employees want a more formal PD program. Those companies that pivot and offer PD aimed at workers’ needs and wants are seeing less attrition and increasingly educated employees. When you tap into online PD offerings, you can scale your workforce more quickly and make it easier for employees to advance. Increasingly, tech-assisted PD that isn’t limited to business hours is more acceptable to a wider section of staff.
Future PD offerings
Businesses on the leading edge of technology are gravitating toward online PD offerings. Some curate courses offering short, gamified education. Since millennials are the largest cohort of employees after baby boomers, it makes sense to position your PD toward individuals who grew up with technology and games. Companies find that a three-minute gamification experience boosts professional training and development using real-life problems employees are likely to encounter.
CPA Australia created an online virtual reality training module to challenge employees to put into practice what they learned in their day-to-day exposure and in online learning situations. They found participants loved the VR component because they felt it better related to their jobs and the situations they experienced.
Technology helps companies create the PD of the future by offering a wide array of options, such as employee training, onboarding for new employees, compliance testing for corporate standards, and even behavioral change to keep staff motivated and help them improve their skills.
Future gamification of PD programs is a great tool for simulating and testing new ideas. You can address customer concerns and other issues as well as get immediate feedback from employees and those on the front line.
Law students have countless paths for their legal careers, but most pursue, participate in, and benefit from professional development. For lawyers and many others, PD is the means they use to guide their career paths, developing skills and knowledge in a marketplace that constantly shifts and changes. For example, in today’s modern law practice, PD comes in a variety of offerings aimed at entry, mid, and senior levels, including diversity, equity, and inclusion courses, trial advocacy skills, leadership, and coaching. The law is only one of many sectors that have pivoted in the last 18 months to reach and educate their staff and employees in an increasingly diverse and expansive society.
Online learning and virtual experiences are the PD of the future. Today’s businesses and their employees must take advantage of these online and virtual programs to help expand knowledge, understanding, and skills, regardless of industry or position. Those who quickly adapt to online or remote learning stand to acquire what’s needed to succeed. And the companies that provide this style of PD will see increased retention and more satisfied employees in an increasingly competitive job market.
Ready to step up your professional development game? Start with a training needs assessment to understand your employees’ skills, needs, and interests, and put those answers to work!