Developing skills and infrastructure for lifelong learning is the heartbeat of the top organizations across the globe today. World Economic Forum reports that 94% of business leaders expect their employees to pick up new skills through training courses and other learning initiatives. Another recent research by Deloitte highlights that with the sudden shift to virtual work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have faced challenges related to workforce needs.
With that in mind, HR leaders and L&D experts have faced the challenge: how to establish a powerful learning and development strategy that would address the tasks employees are dealing with – and their future professional aspirations? And hence, how can they create effective training programs for their employees to reach these goals?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the five crucial steps in developing of a training plan, and share the pro tips to creating a comprehensive employee training plan that will help you elevate your L&D.
Five steps in developing a training program for employees
Step 1: Outline the goals for your training program
Every good training program starts with research. Thus, before creating your training plan, clear up the needs you want to address and the goals you want to achieve with a training program.
The first thing here is the importance of aligning training with business goals. To get to know these, talk to the company executives and departments managers to understand their perspective. This will help you find out the company’s short- and long-term goals.
For instance, the company may seek to:
- Boost the company’s profit
- Save workforce costs by improving talent development and training
- Improve employee productivity
- Stay competitive on the marker and close the skill gaps
- Retain top talents
Understanding business objectives is crucial, but it’s equally important to listen to the other side – employees themselves. Employees can share what they want or need to learn, what their career plans are.
However, when you’re working within an enterprise-level organization, it might be a challenge to talk personally to thousands of employees coping with all kinds of tasks from manufacturing and logistics to sales and management. Thank robots, in 2021 you can leverage AI in nearly every question, even related to people learning and development. For instance, Deutsche Telekom, a company with over 220K employees, took their step towards AI solutions and developed training recommendations for their employees in an automated way. As the next step, these recommendations can be used for creating a training plan.
With data and expectations from both top management and employees in hand, you can outline the training needs and make sure they match the overall business and lead to a stronger and more competitive company.
Step 2: Identify skills gaps and future trends you need to address
According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs survey, 50% of today’s skills employees obtain will dramatically shift by 2025. Especially as technology evolves, many companies experience a shortage of skilled employees who can work with new technologies and tools. Also, PwC reports that 74% of CEOs are concerned that a lack of essential skills will jeopardize their organization’s growth.
To eliminate such threats at your company and to make the learning journey efficient and tailored, identify skill gaps before creating your training program. For that you can use one of the most valuable ‘currency’ of your company: your available data. By analyzing the CVs of your employees, employee profiles, training data, etc. you can get a clear picture of your skill landscape within the company. Thanks to AI algorithms, skill management can be done quickly and precisely.
As the next step, you should detect and understand future jobs and skills relevant for your business. To get a clearly structured picture on that, answer the following questions:
- Which roles and skills are becoming more relevant in your industry, which ones are becoming less relevant?
- How will specific job roles and skill profiles evolve in the short-, mid- and long-term future?
- How could a best-practice job description for a specific job look like?
- What skills are leading companies looking for?
For a pro-example how to learn from the competitors, take a look at Siemens. To be prepared for the challenges and identify emerging jobs and skills of the future, Siemens went a smart way to do competitors benchmarking and labor market analysis. By analyzing macroeconomic data, they got insights on the competitors skill demand and future workforce trends. This approach allowed Siemens to gain transparency on future skills and a structure to guide future-focused employee development.
The gained market insights can be translated then into the concrete future job profiles. These profiles should have defined duties and skills that would serve you as an ideal target picture.
Now you can compare your available skill landscape with the target job profiles and detect the skill gap. This would give you the data-based foundation to close the skill gaps and develop your workforce wisely.
Step 3: Choose the format for your training program
Once you understand the current state of skills at the company, gaps you need to close, and the destination you want to reach out to, it’s time to decide which means you’re going to use for this.
Specifically, think of the format for your training sessions. Should it be online or offline? Individual or group? Self-pace, peer, or involving an instructor?
Online vs offline
Much here depends on the skills you’re going to include in your training program. For instance, activities requiring mastering manufacturing skills in healthcare or engineering apparently consider in-person learning. For many other skills, however, online video courses will fit the bill. Integrating online courses to your employee learning journeys can optimize your talent development costs sufficiently.
The challenge that you may face while choosing the online courses for the training program is its variety: there are thousands of courses for Python on such popular platforms like Coursera, Udemy, edX and similar. Here AI can again come into play and save you from the manual work: the algorithms can crawl, analyze and match the content of the learning platforms to your learning path requirements. Learn how Deutsche Telekom mastered this challenge.
One more way to go is to create blended training programs for employees, containing both instructor-led and online sessions. A blended training program can help L&D departments scale up their training efforts without spending vast amounts of money on in-person training. Besides, for non-remote companies, blended learning can be a bridge between legacy programs and 100% online learning.
Individual, peer, or with instructor?
Another perspective to consider is: should you actually involve any instructors or other peers in training sessions, or leave it to a ‘solo-learning-way’?
Peer learning is a pretty efficient concept and can be seen as a part of the ‘sharing is caring’ learning culture. Plus, it may work as an employee engagement tool by making everyone at the company a specific subject matter expert with an opportunity to share their knowledge with other employees.
Eventually, developing a training plan for individual learning in self-pace is also a good idea. Training programs created for self-learning, especially combined with online format, is the most common practice. The good thing here is to stick to microlearning – small learning experiences that take 10 or 20 minutes to complete and cover smaller digestible chunks of knowledge. A great example of this concept is LinkedIn Learning courses, and Google, which also nailed microlearning within their re:work project.
Step 4: Power up your employee learning with data
Basically, data and technology should be at the core of all the enlisted software features and beyond them. You can hardly find a single learning platform today which is not AI-enabled in any way. However, there’s one more essential aspect you need to keep in mind along with creating a personalized learning journey and closing skill gaps.
The key thing behind the learning is staying future-oriented. To ensure that, make sure you have data and technology allowing to predict future skills for your employees. In other words, it’s nice to have the algorithm at place which can build employees future profiles based on their today’s skill set data and professional growth progress.
With a data-driven approach, you’ll eliminate guess-work in developing your training programs and plans, and will keep in mind the future outlook of your company and people. Other than that, with data at place you can keep under the radar the external market view with its industry trends and future skills predictions. Thus, by putting together all the internal and external insights, you’ll be able to develop your employees accordingly to these external trends at the same time aligned with the internal goals company’s strategy.
Step 5: Measure the efficiency of the training program
Once your training plan goes live, it’s time to track their impact. For this, use software to examine progress and results of the training program, collect feedback from employees, and talk to their managers to see how much learning helped employees to bring advancement, better productivity, and new skills into their work.
Also, roll back to where you started, to the business goals, and see how training results match the initial goals. Is this training program enhancing the onboarding process for newcomers? Is it contributing to employee productivity increase? Is it impacting the growth of ROI in any way? Of course, reaching big goals takes time, but at every training course iteration, you need to do the check-up to make sure you’re leading the employees and the whole learning strategy in the right direction.
With the first results at hand, re-evaluate your training materials, make revisions, add renewed information, and overall, keep your programs up-to-date, and continuously improve it.
Ultimately, building a training program for employees pays off in the long run. If you research and invest in your training, the results won’t be far behind. For the C-suite, training will shape a more qualified team and pave the way to a successful future of work. For your employees, it will bring new professional horizons and power them up with crucial and competitive skills.
Here at HRForecast, we believe in the power of people analytics and workforce planning that’ll help organizations build long-term HR plans and prevent skill gaps in the future. If you’d like to learn more about data, tools, and technologies which can help you with implementing your employee training strategy, take a look at smartPeople solution.
What talent challenges are you trying to solve? Drop us a line, and we’ll be happy to help you solve it together!