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How Do You Make Your Employee and Customer Engagement Great and Not Settle for Good?

There are some fundamental changes under way in how companies train their workers.

Out are the long, boring, in-person classes that companies have used for decades to get employees up to speed on every aspect of their jobs. Instead, learning and development teams are tapping into technologies that deliver training  whether employees are in the office or at home. They are also using new ways of packaging that training, making it more palatable and useful to workers who often get bored or distracted with sitting in a classroom or watching endless videos.

This shift was already under way before Covid-19, but the pandemic moved things along significantly, says Katy Tynan, a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. “Prior to the pandemic, there was an overemphasis on formal learning as a delivery mechanism,” she says. Formal, classroom-delivered training was easy to plan and deliver, but organisations didn’t always see the intended results, she adds.

“Organisations are starting to pursue learning in new forms, and certainly at a new pace, with much more frequent learning opportunities. The formal training itself is certainly bite-sized, so that it can be consumed more quickly, and the pace of learning is increased.

Here are some of the key lessons corporate leaders have learned when it comes to training effectively.

Break the training into small chunks.

The typical training routine is to send employees to a full day (or full week) of sessions. Get it all over with in one massive burst of teaching. But that doesn’t really work. As pretty much anybody who has sat through such training can tell you, people lose attention with training very quickly—and start tuning out.

“On average, people’s concentration in virtual [training] lapses about every seven minutes unless there’s a change in the method or mode of delivery,” says Sally Earnshaw, Managing Director of Culture Change Consulting at Gallagher, a consulting firm. One answer, she says, is to continually change the methods of teaching, “moving every seven minutes from slide to breakout [group] to media to polling.” Even more basic, simply break up long lectures into shorter sessions on a single topic.

“If you’ve got an hour-long session, you make it three 20-minute minute chunks, and you present them at different times so that people aren’t trying to learn them all at once,” Ms. Tynan says.

Katrina Baker, Digital Learning Manager at Adobe, says the company has seen strong results from its bite-size training methods. “I think it became particularly clear as Covid hit and folks were at home that there are a lot of distractions,” she says. Ms. Baker says Adobe has seen a 20% to 30% increase in engagement—such as how many minutes of video content employees have watched—from the first to second quarter of 2021.

Train more often.

When it comes to training, seat time is easy. But it’s ineffective. Employees need to practice and maintain the momentum of continuing training to ensure that the new skills will be applied to the job.
“You need to have regular reinforcement of what you’ve been learning,” says Wayne Cascio, a Professor of Management at the University of Colorado Denver’s Business School.

“You use it or lose it,” Mr. Cascio adds, “and simply doing it one-off or learning a skill one time, and then not being able to practice and use it on the job, is a recipe for skill decay.”

Passive listening isn’t enough.

Learners can’t be expected to pay attention to an online lesson if all you’re doing is replicating a classroom situation. Course participants need to participate in a range of activities beyond passively listening.

One effective strategy is role play simulation training. This would involve participants practising first hand in a safe space what they had been taught. For instance, they might be a manager who has to deal with conflict between two employees during a team meeting.

Managers then get a choice: They can side with one of the employees; assert authority and stop the argument; or arbitrate the situation. The story will develop differently depending on what they choose.

Have workers learn from each other.

Passive, classroom lessons have another problem: The trainers may not understand what employees need to know and deliver lessons that are too abstract. One solution to the problem: Let co-workers train each other.

In many organisations, peer-to-peer training and feedback works better because employees are living in that context.

For example, regional sales teams might have top sellers coach other salespeople through biweekly team meetings using role play simulation software such as Immersion Studio at Connect Training.

One size doesn’t fit all.

One-size-fits-all training often isn’t enough to grab employee attention. So, organisations are turning to artificial intelligence to analyse workers’ skills and career plans—then serving up a selection of training and assignments that suits them best.

Mastercard has a new system called Unlocked, that taps AI to match people with training courses, project work and volunteer opportunities. If a user says they want to learn more about “financial inclusion,” for example, the system might suggest a learning opportunity or project tied to that topic.

If a user says they want to work toward becoming a senior software engineer, Unlocked would show what skills they currently have—and which ones are missing—to get that role, and would then recommend opportunities to help close the skills gap.

It is vital in this very new world that employers and trainers look at the best ways of engaging teams and helping them to not only gain knowledge but to retain it and put it into practice.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help at Connect Training by using real-time role play simulation training, please contact us on hello@connecttotraining.co.uk.

Make your training offer great – don’t settle for good!

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