As businesses manage the “great resignation”, can education and training help to slow this trend, and how can tech be used to deliver engaging training and education, asks Dave Howell.
For all smaller enterprises, their staff remains their most precious asset. However, the pandemic has seen many workers re-evaluate their online payroll services, what work means to them, and how they would like to see their careers progress.
For all smaller enterprises, their staff remains their most precious asset. However, the pandemic has seen many workers re-evaluate what work means to them and how they would like to see their careers progress.
The so-called “great resignation” is a clear and present danger for small businesses disproportionately affected by the continuing skills shortage. To hold onto their key employees and have the ability to attract new talent, L&D (Learning and Development) programmes are vital to ensure the impact of staff shortages is kept to a minimum.
According to the iCIMS UK State of Talent report, regardless of whether they are returning to a previous employer or looking for a new one, UK job seekers have determined that the top transferable skills when applying to an open role are communication and organisational skills.
Speaking to us, Sarah-Jane McQueen, general manager at CoursesOnline, explains that a tailored fit with educational resources is critical to hold onto staff and deliver the career progression they want. “Personalised education can be really beneficial for preventing employees from resigning by giving them greater control over their personal development; it shows that you firstly care enough about them to invest in their training and secondly that you care for their input as to where they want to take their career. Not everyone will learn effectively the same way, and this approach enables those learning to pick the best method to take knowledge on board.”
A flexible approach to learning and training is critical. Here the pandemic has driven a permanent shift to remote working. A hybrid approach is now the norm, which is also how workers want to learn. Businesses leveraging their use and experience of hosted services in creating and deploying learning will maintain a dynamic environment of constant learning and skills expansion. Services such as Open LMS are a good example that illustrates how hosted training and education is the way forward for smaller enterprises.
We went head-to-head with Dani Osborne, HR Recruitment Manager for Cathedral Appointments.
“Now more than ever, employees want to feel that they belong, they want to feel valued, and they want to know that their employers have their best interests at heart. They want to be developed, pushed to be the best they can be and see, tangibly, that the person or people they work for are willing to invest time and money into their development.
“Personalised education and training plans are perfect for employers to showcase all the above. Gone are the days when you could place all of your employees into one training room and teach them all of the same skills as if they belonged in a production factory. Instead, a good employer will listen generously to where their team members see themselves in one, five, and ten years and get them there through personalised learning and development (L&D) programmes.
“If you, as an employer, are still only thinking about offering overarching training days which interest perhaps one or two members of the team, be prepared to lose staff quickly.”
HR is rapidly embracing new tech. How is HR using this technology to enhance training and education?
“Tech within the L&D space enables HR, and the wider senior team, to have a greater understanding of what education an individual within a team may need. It can identify a person’s Achilles heel through application programmes – showing where they may struggle more than others, and support them in upskilling. On the flip side, it can also show where an individual excels and no longer needs regular training. This stops employees from feeling like they are taking part in unnecessary L&D, which takes up their valuable time, which they could be using to upskill in different areas.
“Technology within L&D also ensures that everyone’s training preferences are catered for. Not everyone works well within a classroom environment, nor can everyone carve out the same 9-5 schedule in their day to undertake training. This technology enables individuals to train when it’s best for them, in a way that ensures the information goes in and is retained.”
Is a business’s culture also an area that HR can focus on to reinforce loyalty and reduce resignations?
“For 99% of the time, employees leave because of bad culture. You’ve heard the saying ‘people don’t leave a bad job. They leave a bad manager’ – that bad manager could be one person, or it could be an overall bad culture.
“While HR cannot be the only division within a business tasked to create and build a brilliant team culture (this lies with everyone within the team), the division can play an integral part in ensuring aspects of the business such as employee engagement and employee wellbeing are consistently monitored and tweaked where needed.
“The one crucial thing to remember, however, it that culture is not procedures, it’s not policies – it’s not a few pieces of paper. Culture is built upon a joint mindset, a passion to live and breathe the ethos and values of the company, an understanding of one another and the drive to have a tight-knit community that looks out for one another. While HR can certainly be a driving force in this, it cannot be left to shoulder this task alone.”
Has the pandemic changed how we define training and education within businesses?
“L&D has become far more agile post-pandemic, not only in how it is run to accommodate flexible and remote working but also in how it serves the individual employees within a company.
“Post-pandemic, employees recognise that they no longer need to follow a ‘traditionally linear’ career path. They can move sideways, as well as up, as well as explore new divisions and sectors if they wish to. Therefore, if an employer’s key focus is retention, they will design L&D programmes that cater to a breadth of skillsets to enable their team members to grow professionally in any way they choose.”
Are we in an era where businesses must “redesign” jobs to appeal to their existing workers and the talent they need to attract?
“We regularly see vacancies that, on final offer, look very different to the initial vacancy offered at the acquisition stage. This is because employers are keen to find people who fit culturally and have potential rather than a polished product that causes friction.
“However, tweaking roles internally with existing staff members is something that happens less but should happen more – especially with the Great Resignation looming over so many companies. Retention efforts will mean being flexible around your employees, especially if they will be more engaged, enjoy their job a lot more and feel valued and respected.
“We’re not out of the woods yet, and there are more turbulent times ahead – especially with the economy. We’re all still figuring out the ‘new normal’ and so a business’ greatest asset will be agility, ensuring that how they work, how they train and how they attract and retain staff evolves and changes with the business landscape.”
The post-pandemic business landscape will mean redesigning work and how learning and training are created and delivered.
“Businesses that want to be in the best shape post-lockdown should not under-estimate the importance of employee engagement and providing development opportunities is one of the most important things you can offer employees,” says Liz Sebag-Montefiore, Director, 10eighty.
Liz concluded: “We are seeing more flexibility in where and when people work, and this is a change to be welcomed as it will enable a new narrative of energy, talent, and innovation. More autonomy will be facilitated by the digital transformation we see in our working and personal lives that makes it easier for employees to work in a way that suits them best. It will also encourage people to take ownership of their learning and development, to develop the skills needed in this new world.”
Understanding the career and even personal ambitions of a workforce is critical. Part of this understanding is training and career progression. Businesses that support these goals with well-designed programs will retain the staff they need to thrive.
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