With an ageing workforce, a tight labour market, ongoing skills shortages and an increasingly knowledge-based economy, businesses are keener than ever to maximise employee performance and efficiency.
Optimising performance and productivity is about collaborating to share best practice knowledge and aligning corporate learning with business goals.HR and the learning and development (L&D) team play a key role in enabling performance on the job and when coupled with the right technology and software can drive productivity.
So what’s the key to helping your employees succeed as you introduce new processes and update software? Here are four simple ways to power your workforce and meet your organisation’s goals.
Deliver tailored information in a learning environment
Corporate learning has moved beyond instructor-led training (ILT) and a focus on the number of ‘bums in seats’ and has created techniques more suited to today’s workplace, such as microlearning. ILT still has a place when you need to build common skills or ensure shared understanding, but is not the answer for emerging needs or dynamic environments.
Microlearning combines interfacing and the internet to deliver small knowledge chunks – it brings learning to employees, whenever and wherever. Learning in smaller capacities isn’t new, but advances in technology have made it easier to develop content in smaller bites and deliver them to tablets and smartphones.
In Brain Rules, John Medina outlines that “you must do something emotionally relevant at each 10-minute mark to regain attention,” so why not create chunks to meet the 10-minute (or less) rule? Consider developing learning at a ‘micro’ level that requires a small amount of time to digest and is available on multiple devices. Content that is mobile-enabled can be digested anywhere and anytime. For workers frequently out of the office or those not tied to a job with a traditional computer this is a key benefit.
YouTube, Yammer, Tumblr, and Posterous are tools that can be used to deliver learning chunks. These provide advantages over email because they do a better job of retaining historical information and delivering it to a wider audience. As you identify the learning chunks needed for your learning initiative consider sequencing these chunks into a campaign.
If you are introducing a new feature in your product, you might have learning nuggets that:
- State key concepts or goals, like the customer pain point which the new feature addresses
- Highlight the value proposition with a 3-minute video delivered by the product manager
- List the steps to access more detailed information
- Deliver a short quiz to validate comprehension
After you develop your team’s learning process, consider its deliverance. How can you end your campaign with confidence that employees are well prepared?
Your newly developed campaign can include small learning chunks, calls-to-action, and mini assessments. Your goal should be to provide information and learning content over the life of the project, in a sequence that parallels the overall project timeline.
Microlearning is particularly relevant for cloud applications. For these applications, changes and updates are ongoing. You don’t hit a go-live and then stop training (or only train again during an upgrade).
Become a content curator for your employees
Microlearning is an example of one tool to bring to your HR toolbox. However, new skillsets are another way to deliver or provide learning. HR – and L&D in particular – should look beyond developing training content and evaluate how to best enable employees on the job utilising existing content. A key aspect of this is helping employees source the information they need.
Content curation tools are an ideal solution. This means distilling the mass of information and funneling only the relevant and worthwhile bits to your employees. Many curation tools do the hard work of crawling the web, based on a topic or keyword(s) you define, and then compiles the results into a one-stop-shop. An example of this is Google Alerts. Or think about how you might curate content for your customer service or sales team by creating a channel specifically devoted to what customers, the media, and competitors are saying and writing about your products or services.
Integrate performance support with the employee’s job
Supporting the performance of your employees is fundamental and can be anything from a five-step procedure posted next to the forklift ignition, to an online work instruction to help an employee complete an expense report in SAP.
Performance support is especially key for those tasks which are done infrequently – there’s no way an employee will commit to memory without repetition. For these ‘once-in-a-bluemoon’ tasks, help content must be just a click away. Extra points if you offer your employees options on the type of help content available – some might prefer a printable work instruction, while others will leverage a web browser help desk.
Finally, allow your employees to network and connect with one another, to drive ongoing innovation and provide another support option. An example of this is pairing an expert with a novice. However, you may also find that simply sharing information will help to uncover better ways of doing a task and streamline your processes. Consider tools that allow your employees to identify experts, provide feedback on learning content, and discuss the best practices for a task or process.
Share Your Success to Drive Further Success
If you use one of the above techniques you will most undoubtedly share the results with your senior management, but make sure to always report back to your employees. Adopting new techniques and tools can be a struggle; however, sharing wins and positive results will bring your team closer together.
Success breeds success – encourage sharing amongst team members, which will increase awareness and drive employees to check out your offerings.
Some of the positive metrics you might share with the entire organisation include:
- Number of hits to your help website vs number of calls to your help desk
- Reduction in number of overall errors
- Comparison of pre- and post-campaign results, such as increase in awareness of goals or a greater confidence with a new application. Consider surveying your audience before and after a learning campaign so you can measure a change in knowledge or performance as a result of your campaign.
Frank Lonergan is CEO of learning and performance software solutions provider ANCILE Solutions.