“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…” sang David Bowie back in 1971, in a time of revolutionary happenings. Much has changed since then, especially in the workplace, and more changes are coming thick and fast. How do you keep staff abreast of technological developments?
Change is an established part of work, and consequently, staff have to be able to deal with it. That means that organizations need to institute ways of making this happen. One of the best ways of enabling staff to keep up is to give great training. We’ll go through no fewer than eight types of employee training methods that can help here. Let’s get on with it.
This is the kind of hands-on training that takes place in situ. The employee is at their desk (virtually or otherwise), and they’ve already started on aspects of their work. On-the-job training is what then takes place to facilitate improvement there and then.
This is what goes on in Hobbit school.
No, not really. Microlearning is a training process broken down into brief chunks that are easily digestible and delivered just when they’re needed.
Microlearning is ideal for training employees on new technologies because it gets them up to speed fast. Instead of overloading everyone with several days of in-depth instruction on how the entire system works, you can ensure that each user focuses on the features they’ll actually be using for their daily work.
There are several techniques you can use to achieve this. Video is increasingly popular for online training and lends itself to technical subjects. For example, if you were training people on how to fax from a computer, they could watch a bite-sized demo of the tool in action before getting started. You could also set up video tutorial clips that pop up when they activate a new feature.
Interactive and game-based training are also useful for engaging employees with changing technology. You can set challenges for them to complete, with a leaderboard and rewards as an incentive to learn quickly. Fun quizzes can also help learners retain knowledge.
Increasingly popular employee training methods, VR and AR immerse the trainee in surroundings in which instruction is rendered through interaction with a simulated environment. It allows the trainee to make incorrect choices with impunity. Sometimes you have to make a mistake to learn how to do it right.
VR and AR applications are especially useful training methods in scenarios where practicing new skills in the real-life working environment would be unsafe. For instance, for medical staff to have the ability to practice surgical techniques without blundering around someone’s innards is of tremendous value to the trainee (and the patient!). As a more specific example, this type of training can also be highly effective for those exploring deep learning solutions based on human brain structure.
Like any other type of employee training, it’s important to set clear training goals with VR and AR courses. Keep learning experiences tightly focused on a particular task, and don’t allow the whole session to stray beyond the 20-minute mark. Beyond this, VR fatigue can set in.
Peer-to-peer learning replaces the traditional “top-down” learning methodology—operating instead from the bottom-up, so that every team member can shape learning content.
In the bottom-up learning strategy, peers are asked to declare their learning needs. It’s important to get everyone involved, to ensure a full range of perspectives and as much input as possible. Internal experts can then identify skills gaps and create hyper-relevant courses that fill them.
As well as facilitating new learning materials for training and development, employees should have the chance to ask questions, provide feedback, and make suggestions about existing content. There’s no need to wait for an annual training assessment—team members can do this in real time.
The course designers can then respond quickly to specific learners’ needs, either by answering queries on a discussion forum or creating a new training course for the topic.
This is a type of training where trainees are set up with a challenge they may eventually face in the real world and asked to find ways to resolve it.
This is a training method in which employees decide when, where, and what kind of training they would like to engage with.
If staff are having trouble learning to use a new piece of technology, they can use the help facility to take them to interactive training. Because the staff member is in charge of the timing and nature of the interaction, they feel more engaged and in control of their learning experience. This also helps learners get the most relevant training in the moment of need.
This is a traditional training method where staff participate in off-site training at events like conferences or external workshops. These events usually have industry experts and leaders speaking, or hosting hands-on training. For example, an organization might send its engineering team to a conference on machine learning models or a workshop on new software.
Virtual or in-person: Similar to the previous point, many conferences and training events can now be attended remotely. So for example, no need to send your team to Malta to train them on how to obtain a Maltese domain name.
In a learning organization, employee development is a proactive and ongoing process; training doesn’t happen only “when needed”. And in an organization where employees need to stay on top of technological developments, there has to be an element of continuous development in an internal learning process, or they’ll fall behind.
Once you have staff up to speed with initial employee training methods, you can put them through upskilling sessions together. Collaborative learning is a highly effective way to enable entire organizations to upskill from within.
In traditional top-down L&D strategy, management determines training needs and provides learning materials accordingly. This can lead to a misalignment between training content and the workforce’s actual learning needs. In contrast, collaborative learning allows employees to declare their own training needs - and fellow employees who are subject-matter experts (SMEs) can design and create highly relevant courses and training content to address those skills and knowledge gaps.
This is a hugely beneficial learning style, both in terms of economy to the business (money saved on costly workshops) and more relevant and engaging learning experiences for employees (compared to outsourced or off-the-shelf training content). Learning together enables mutual support, bouncing ideas off each other, and keeps institutional knowledge within the organization.
The march to the future will not be stopped. This is, for most, an exciting proposition. Hopefully, your staff will tend to fall into this camp. But even if they don’t, you can do something about it. Take the hybrid route with blended learning and use a combination of the above employee training techniques to keep the most committed Luddite on the right side of progress.