this was originally posted on eLearning Industry
Best Practices For Continuous Improvement
New hires rarely hit the ground running their first day on the job. Even if they already have coveted industry knowledge or technical expertise, it takes time to become familiar with company-specific processes and technology. Beyond that, organizations are in constant need of new, relevant skill sets. That’s why total training expenditures amounted to $83 Billion in 2019 . Organizations are investing in employee onboarding and continuous learning in order to develop critical skills that drive success for the business.
But what can organizations do to increase the impact of training? Business challenges are many and varied, so it can be hard to pin down a formula. However, there are 3 basic practices that will further your training efforts regardless of the challenges.
1. Plan For New Technology
Continuous learning is vital to companies that want to stay relevant, but designing, developing, and deploying a new onboarding training solution takes time. Moreover, changes to technology and processes are frequent enough that L&D teams often can’t keep up. It’s unrealistic to expect a content overhaul every time a new process is adopted, or new business technology is available.
Fortunately, modern content management platforms can make updates much easier. To optimize your employee onboarding, make sure your training modules are flexible and designed with updates in mind. Typically, this will come down to your training technology (i.e., content management platforms, learning portals, performance support systems, etc.,) More importantly, proactively communicate with business units at regular intervals to ensure they haven’t made process changes that would make your training content outdated.
2. Personalize Your Training
Research shows that a personalized learning plan can significantly improve educational outcomes . However, creating a framework for personalization is a tall order. You have to start with a thorough evaluation of your workforce. There are a few key subjects to consider when conducting an audience analysis:
- Devices & access to technology
- Motivational factors
- Cultural values
- Language(s) spoken
When interviewed by Chief Learning Officer, Larry Nicholson said “The more insights a firm has about how employees prefer to learn, the greater they will gain influence, engagement, and increased retention of learning programs and content. I view learners as the customer, and if the customer is not happy, you will lose all engagement.”
3. Training Measurement
It’s difficult to effectively optimize employee onboarding without real data around the results of your training. After all, the best decisions are data-driven. Ideally, the data should show if there was any impact on business objectives. Sometimes L&D teams don’t have the means to measure results to that degree, though. That’s why it’s important to design a method of performance measurement before you build a learning solution. This makes data-driven decisions substantially easier. The Kirkpatrick Model works as a guide to determine what you should measure.
What business goals drive the training initiative? For example, maybe you want to increase sales or reduce compliance violations. Consider how you might measure the business impact. The easiest solution would be to measure performance before and after a training initiative—continuing for several months to determine if changes in performance are maintained. In the case of sales enablement training, you might measure deal size or the number of sales.
Behaviors are the most difficult to measure. Many organizations don’t have performance measurement systems in place, and sometimes behaviors are too complex to be able to record. Without tech support, surveys and observations can be valuable tools. However, immersive learning experiences (e.g., scenarios, interactive videos, VR, etc.,) give some insight into acquired behaviors when integrated into the initial training or follow-up. Reproducing target behaviors in a training environment is still a valuable measurement of behavior acquisition.
Most training technology makes capturing learner responses a simple matter. So, including assessments within training modules should be standard practice. The key is to use those assessments to gauge knowledge around distinct subjects, rather than specific questions. You want your learners to think critically about a subject—not just recognize a multiple-choice answer.
Though employee reactions won’t tell you much about learning or performance, it’s still an important measurement. There are some objective measurements for employee experiences that will prove useful, such as engagement time and completion rate. But qualitative measurements like questionnaires are important as well.
Designing an effective employee onboarding strategy is difficult enough without considering new products, processes, or audience characteristics. Regardless of the training challenge, continuous evaluation and optimization are vital to increasing the impact that training has on the organization. Careful planning and measurement are required for training impact. Moreover, it takes time. Following these steps enable L&D teams to make the data-driven decisions that move business goals forward. For more insight into employee onboarding innovations for the modern workforce, download the eBook Developing An Effective Employee Onboarding Process In The Modern Workplace.
References: 2019 TRAINING INDUSTRY REPORT  Informing Progress: Insights on Personalized Learning Implementation and Effects