Staff learning and development has become a hot topic as CEO’s realise the value of refreshing their workers skills and keeping teams motivated. Skills are the lifeblood for businesses, says the Institute of Directors’ spokesperson. “Ensuring staff development doesn’t fall by the wayside has been one of the big challenges during this pandemic.”
An employer who doesn’t focus on learning is going to lose out — in performance, engagement and retention. According to LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Development is no longer an optional perk or reserved for only certain positions. It’s expected by today’s talent. It signals that the employer values their people and are actively interested in their success — not just on the job, but over the long haul.
When it comes to upskilling employees as a way to drive business growth, businesses need to consider their objectives and business goals. Beginning by assessing gaps in current employees’ knowledge and skills is often a good place to start, closely followed by… simply asking your team!
In terms of overall talent development, a recent LinkedIn survey of 2,000 business leaders found that more than half (57%) put soft skills over hard skills when it comes to what they need their employees to develop. The top four soft skills are leadership, communication, collaboration and time management. While these may be innate in many of your shining stars, they can always be improved upon. For those who seem lacking, it may simply be a matter of learning how to execute, not the concepts themselves.
There are plenty of courses for developing soft skills on learning platforms. And soft skills development is a clear instance in which employees perceive you are interested in their growth and overall success — not just how quickly they can accomplish a task in their present position.
There’s a reason employees groan when offered seminars to develop their skills. Such courses can eat up a load of time. Long-duration seminars may dump a lot of information on participants, but they can also drive a wedge between employer and employee needs. If they are attended within the workday, that eats into productivity. If the employer requires learning after work hours or during lunch (“Learn at Lunch” programs), the perception may be that employers don’t respect employees’ boundaries or their need for personal time.
LinkedIn’s report also found that the top reason employees feel held back from learning is that they don’t have the time to learn. The solution: offer learning opportunities in small, bite-sized time increments that can be manageably tucked into a workday. Youtube has changed the way we take in information — in digestible chunks that consider our busy lives and shorter attention spans. The average length of a Youtube video is around four minutes and 20 seconds. Take a cue.
The LinkedIn learning report also spotlighted a monkey wrench for many companies invested in employee learning — managers. Fifty-six percent of employees would take a manager-suggested course, but getting managers involved in employee learning is a major challenge. It’s not that managers don’t want employees to learn. It’s that they’re usually already overloaded, and occupied with the daily and more pressing challenges of managing their teams and tackling the to-do list.
“What managers must understand is that developing their people and teams is a key responsibility, and it’s what helps to keep their teams engaged,” notes Emily Poague, vice-president of Marketing at LinkedIn Learning. Four suggestions: spotlight the managers who are successfully encouraging learning by circulating their success stories; collaborate with managers on the best times to incorporate learning into the day, have managers add a discussion on what skills employees want to learn into performance reviews, and then enlist managers to assign the applicable courses.
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