A skilled workforce is at the heart of any great organization, and with 2018 business-planning in full swing and digital transformation on everyone’s minds, it’s time to address key priorities for your new e-learning programs. Growing organizations often have a wide range of needs when it comes to employee skills training, so it can be difficult to know where to start. It pays to take a sensible approach that focuses on some of the most basic ideas and expand them into a cohesive e-learning strategy.

Here are four keys to e-learning you’ll want to consider this year.

1. See the Real Value in Skilled Employees

Business managers have a tendency to focus on strategies that benefit their departments and their company’s bottom line, only to overlook the people that make it all happen. E-learning skills training is, in fact, a huge motivational tool for employees who want better opportunities for professional development and career mobility. According to one study of HR and hiring managers, offering career mobility can increase employee engagement (49 percent), improve employee productivity (39 percent) and improve employee teamwork (39 percent). Developing a continuous learning culture that focuses on specific skills-based outcomes will pay dividends across your workforce and provide the spark for inspirational greatness.

2. Put Technology and Data to Work

It should come as no surprise that technology skills are at the forefront of most companies’ training programs, but some managers forget that technology isn’t just a tool for IT and software development organizations. Big Data, for example, is being deployed across departments to drive more efficient operations and better overall business results. Almost 60 percent of organizations expect to increase positions requiring data analysis skills over the next five years, and departments that are now reaping the benefits include accounting and finance (71 percent), human resources (54 percent) and business administration (50 percent). Data Scientists and Machine Learning Specialists are leading the charge in this booming field of Big Data.

3. Don’t Forget the Basics Such As Office Productivity Skills

With so many advanced disciplines needed to fill various roles, it’s easy to overlook the most fundamental skillsets. Enhancing work teams’ proficiency with office productivity applications can be applied almost anywhere in the organization, and it can be achieved by utilizing a microlearning approach that leverages key bit-sized learning modules. Nearly eight in 10 middle-skill jobs now require digital skills, and spreadsheet and word processing proficiencies have become a baseline requirement for 78 percent of middle-skill opportunities. Microsoft Office online skills training empowers workers that can create dazzling reports (MS Word), run macros for better data analysis (MS Excel), develop eye-catching internal presentations (MS PowerPoint), build dynamic database-driven apps (MS Access) and even cut down the overwhelming clutter of their email inboxes (MS Outlook). According to a LinkedIn survey, three of the top six most popular training programs focus on developing expertise with Microsoft Excel, so it’s easy to see the momentum of these core skillsets.

4. Turn Theory Into Practice

When it comes to e-learning, nothing is more important than being able to apply your knowledge in a practical way on the job that means leveraging the right training environment and tools and get a tangible return on your training investment. Be sure you’ve got an online training system that includes full-scale, custom-built environments (such as CloudLab) for testing technical knowledge, working with data science software tools and mastering cloud computing platforms in a real-world environment. E-learning curriculum should also always include applied projects, cases studies and use cases to generate real-world skills proficiency that is used every day. And engaging, gamification-based training techniques can create a more enjoyable overall learning experience. For disciplines like project management, digital marketing, and cloud computing, the right platform, tools and service model can make all the difference.

E-learning can be a great motivator for your workforce. By focusing on these simple best practices and skills training guidelines, you can create a more enlightened work environment and enhance the real value employees bring to your business.

This article was originally published on Business World.