Companies intent on permanently crossing the digital skills gap can no longer take a one-one off approach to skills training. All too often we see companies address upskilling needs as they arise, such as training digital marketers when your SEO strategy is failing or registering your project managers for Agile training when development projects are falling behind. But this ad-hoc approach will never get your organization ahead of the technology curve; rather, a more strategic approach is required – one that embraces a company-wide learning culture. To that end, here are some components that can serve as your building blocks for creating an effective learning culture in your organization.
What You Have to Gain
Creating that bridge to cross the skills gap is no easy task in today’s competitive hiring marketplace. The National Federation of Independent Business reports that 45 percent of small businesses were unable to find qualified candidates to fill job openings and 60 percent of all employers have job openings that stay vacant for twelve weeks or longer, which costs them $800,000 annually in lost productivity and advertising fees. Moreover, the half-life of many professional skills is only 2.5-5 years, making hiring new employees a moot point long-term if skills re-training isn’t undertaking with some regularity.
Companies that nurture employee learning and development (L&D) through a well-built learning culture are 46 percent more likely to be first to market, 92 percent more likely to innovate and 58 percent more prepared to meet future demand, according to a Deloitte report. Innovation is vital for keeping your products and services top of mind in competitive markets, and companies that have properly-trained digital and technology workers are more quality-conscious and better positioned to see that customers always get what they expect.
Show Employees a Viable Career Learning Path
In order to build a viable corporate learning culture, your employees must be bought-in from day one. The way to do that is to illustrate the value of not just individual tech skills that help them accomplish day-to-day tasks, but the value of a structured learning path that leads to better overall career achievement. In particular, there is an increasing demand for professionals who can implement strategies that encompass entire business processes. Examples include DevOps experts that bridge the gap between development and operations functions; MEAN-stack engineers that manage front-end and back-end web development needs; and digital marketing specialists who understand how to manage everything from SEO and pay per click tactics to social media, email marketing, and analytics. Once they see the career opportunities, they will be more inclined to embark on the L&D journey.
Make Learning Interesting
Few employees want to spend their time sitting in all-day classes to when they have so much on their plate, to begin with. The answer lies in providing an online e-learning system that gives employees flexible learning options, from interactive online classroom to self-paced video eLearning. This “blended learning” approach gives learners more control over their learning experience, better engagement with the curriculum, and allows them to learn in phases without having to take whole days off of their daily workload. Students and teachers agree: 70 percent of students say they learn best in these blended learning environments, and 59 percent of teachers report students are more motivated in a blended learning environment.
L&D managers who create programs must also embrace e-learning best practices to keep learners engaged. Video and live streaming are rising fast in popularity at companies that have strong learning cultures, so much so that 98 percent of organizations said they would implement video as part of their digital learning strategy. Gamification – the application of typical elements of game playing, such as point scoring and competition, to the learning process – is another trending technique, with 80 percent of students claiming that eLearning would be more productive if it were more game-oriented. Students are encouraged to compete either individually or as teams to enhance the learning process and make it far more engaging.
Continuous Learning Enhances Employee Satisfaction
Nothing could be more important to your long-term corporate viability than retaining happy and well-trained employees. A recent Fortune article reported that 87 percent of employers say improving retention is a critical priority for their organization. Unfortunately, one in five workers today feels that their professional skills are not up to date, and that can negatively impact their desire to stay on the job and increase the chances they will look elsewhere for greener pastures. Building a culture of learning keeps employees locked into the excitement of developing a long-term career path.
With e-learning topping, most companies’ strategic priority list (98 percent of all companies plan to use E-learning by 2020), the trick lies not in producing a system that solves skills gap issues one at a time, but rather by creating an enterprise-wide continuous learning culture that benefits both company and individual in measurable ways.