This Is How Workplace Training Has Changed in the 21st Century

This Is How Workplace Training Has Changed in the 21st Century

Whether you give your head of training the title of “training officer,” “staff development officer,” or “learning officer,” there’s no doubt that this position’s responsibilities will center on facilitating a variety of learning experiences for employees. Charged with the build-out of an employee training program, this person must be able to improve the team’s overall performance while also working to ensure that each employee is as well trained to fulfill day-to-day requirements as possible. 

A training officer in a company of any size (in smaller companies, the training officer may even be the CEO) will, therefore, have a number of responsibilities to deliver important learning outcomes, making a basic grounding in the concepts and best practices of 21st-century workplace training essential.

The best companies invest in training

An experienced executive search firm will tell any corporate client that most customer-focused companies understand the need for comprehensive employee training programs. A June 2019 Forbes article noted that 37 percent of customer-centered companies make sure to maintain a system of regular, high-quality employee training and coaching. Meanwhile, just 18 percent of average firms make the same investment.

Training is a major investment

While the kind of thorough, valuable training that separates mediocre companies from great ones does not come cheaply, it’s best to remember that a high price tag doesn’t guarantee a training program will be a good one. The Forbes article puts it bluntly: Most of the money companies spend on employee training probably goes to waste.

This happens because most training is not directly applicable to today’s jobs. Also, many employees do not know how to take the skills they’ve learned and use them in their day-to-day work.

But when implemented properly, relevant training programs can enable workers to succeed in the modern workforce, delivering exceptional customer care while allowing businesses to stay ahead of the curve.

An ultimate savings of time and money

Experienced business leaders note the multiple benefits of training done well: reduction in the number of operational errors, cost savings in terms of both time and money, and more fluid and responsive operations overall. 

Training also makes for more powerful levels of employee engagement. In fact, the 2019 Gallup Market Survey notes that highly engaged employees demonstrated a 21 percent increase in profitability.

Employees want to be on board

The June 2019 Forbes piece additionally noted that employees genuinely want to engage with effective training. A study organized by online course provider Udemy found that 51 percent of all employees surveyed said they would quit their jobs if they had no access to training and professional development programs. What’s more, the percentage rose to 66 percent among 18- to 37-year olds, perhaps indicating that training is growing increasingly important to the younger workforce.

Highly motivated employees are those who want to consistently improve their own knowledge and performance and make valuable contributions to their teams. These employees are often the most positive and inspiring, acting as role models to other staff. They’re the kind of employees that every company wants to keep, and they expect to be provided with useful, relevant training and a menu of professional development opportunities. 

People-focused training

Today’s fast-paced business environment has actually served to rebalance the whole concept of training into more of an ongoing investment into each employee’s skills, rather than periodic overhauls of each individual’s practical knowledge. According to a January 2020 Forbes Technology Council post, employees should be looked at as “renewable resources, not commodities.” 

Traditional certifications and accreditations will not be enough to drive business success in the near future. Training in the 21st century needs to respond to a rapidly shifting world. The World Economic Forum released a January 2019 white paper detailing how skills—the very same type of human capital referenced above—are at the center of the digitally powered economy of our time, aka the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The white paper states that by the year 2022, the base-level skills for most job titles will have changed by 42 percent. The skills employers most need from their staff are already changing more rapidly than roles can be filled. 

The WEF paper goes on to note that teaching people to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” their skills needs to become a top priority in employee training programs—and even in the way our emerging global society looks at the nature and future of work. 

What does training success look like?

Experts advise companies to adopt a set of best training program practices that includes: 

  • Establishing an “impact map” that will help pinpoint the type of training needed and gauge the worth of a variety of options
  • Creating training programs and installing platforms that can be easily customized to meet individual company and employee needs (but in most cases, a blend of in-house and outsourced training will work best)
  • Building a program of training that will be sustainable as it meets employees where they are: working remotely, spread across time zones, or working on a flex-time schedule

Ensuring that any training system is able to handle the diverse needs of a variety of teams that may each have a different work plan 

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