How to encourage continuous learning for the workforce

Speaking of learning being key to the future of work, this Forbes Nonprofit Council article shares tips on how to foster an environment of learning for your team. 1. Bring training in-house to make it more convenient for your staff. 2. Prioritize open, honest communication to discuss strengths and weaknesses. 3. Train employees in new areas and disciplines that may not directly relate to their job duties. 4. Invest in your employees by acknowledging hard-working members for optimum engagement. 5. Offer tuition reimbursement, even for less formal webinars. 6. Encourage problem-solving skills to help your employees identify areas where they need additional help and training. 7. Bring in guest speakers and experts. 8. Share professional development resources. 9. Use every resource at your disposal to keep your team abreast of the latest information critical to their work. “The pace of change is fast! But when people are curious and looking for new solutions, they will keep learning,” says Magdalena Nowicka Mook of International Coach Federation.

Managers are key to making learning initiatives work 

What makes training stick? This HR Dive article emphasizes the importance of supervisors and team leaders being active in learning and development (L&D) initiatives. “It is absolutely critical that L&D buy-in doesn’t stop at the executive level,” Karen Hebert-Maccaro, chief learning experience officer at O’Reilly, told HR Dive. “While executive support sets the tone, it takes managers and leaders across the organization to turn it into action.” Hebert-Maccaro recommends that frontline managers demonstrate a commitment to open dissent and debate, debrief mistakes and failures and model the importance of learning. The article also notes that leaders are critical to designing training and setting the agenda. “It takes a little more effort but matching interests to opportunities is likely to make your team member feel that you are focused on their development and that is likely to increase retention, loyalty and engagement,” Hebert-Maccaro says. 

Financial services needs to improve training for frontline employees 

A new study finds that most frontline employees in financial services are unsatisfied with their training and that’s why customers leave. Chief Learning Officer reports that a survey of 400 frontline bank employees and insurance advisers and 1,300 customers in the U.S. and Canada revealed only 13 percent of employees feel equipped to answer questions from customers and 60 percent indicated they are not completely satisfied with the training they receive. On the customer satisfaction side, the survey, conducted by Axonify and PMG Intelligence, found two out of five customers switch their primary financial institution and a majority (51 percent) do so because they received poor customer service or didn’t feel valued. “Frontline workers now must be trained in a way that ensures they can keep pace with change and deliver superior customer service in the face of much more informed clients,” Axonify CEO Carol Leaman told CLO 

10 onboarding tips to make employees feel more welcome

Bruce Eckfeldt, founder and CEO of E&A, thinks while many companies spend considerable time and resources finding the right talent, they do not exert as much effort in making them comfortable when they arrive. Here are his 10 onboarding tips to make employees feel welcome and more productive: 1. Let your team know by announcing the new hire and the role they are filling. 2. Send the recruit the org chart with photos and names so they understand who is in what role and which department. 3. Have their space ready to give them a sense of personal space. 4. Don’t swamp them with paperwork; give them a tour or take them to lunch instead. 5. Give them a checklist of the activities they will complete in the first few days and weeks. 6. Have them come in late, so everyone else on the team is ready to meet and greet them. 7. Send them home early with the paperwork to complete and policies to review. 8. Give them a map of the office and the surrounding area, highlighting shopping, eating and parking. 9. Assign them a buddy, someone who joined the organization in the last year and remembers what it’s like to be new. 10. Create an FAQ that covers standard questions.

How to build a data-driven team

In this Harvard Business Review article, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic outlines three key talent management recommendations to help your team become more data-driven: 1. Foster critical thinking. “As organizations turbocharge their ability to gather more and more data—and it’s not so much about size, but rather about quality—what matters most is having people who can ask the right questions to the data,” he writes. “Human curiosity and critical thinking are needed to identify the main problems that AI and data can help to solve, and this process starts with you.” 2. Invest in training. “This does not mean turning everyone into a data scientist, but leveraging the vast universe of virtual resources that exist within and outside of organizations,” Chamorro-Premuzic writes. He cites the free online courses offered by many top universities and Google on AI, data visualization and data science, and encourages company leaders to take advantage of them. 3. Hire the right people. “Individuals with higher quantitative or numerical ability levels will find it much easier to pick up any training related to data analytics,” he writes. “There are also other psychological qualities determining whether individuals will learn to think more empirically and quantitatively: being high on openness to experience, curiosity and learnability will enhance people’s willingness to learn and think more rationally, as will their general level of motivation and conscientiousness.”

Five techniques to improve workplace training

“Technology is revolutionizing the learning and development of professionals across a wide range of industries and sectors,” writes Irma Hunkeler in this TrainingZone blog post. “There are also many more tools, techniques and platforms that can be used to deliver staff training in a more convenient and engaging way.” She highlights five techniques that HR professionals can use to boost employee development: 1. Microlearning delivers learning in bite-sized chunks and makes it easier for employees to fit training into their hectic schedules. 2. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to deliver safe and controlled on-site training in a diverse range of applications and give employees access to locations, situations and equipment which would otherwise be dangerous and cost prohibitive. 3. Gamification introduces a bit of friendly competition; rewards for employees who achieve top marks can help to improve the skill-acquisition of employees. 4. Social learning through instant messaging, video chat and other platforms allows employees to build job skills and working relationships. 5. Collaboration with suppliers, clients, vendors and other stakeholders can boost their knowledge of business practices at different stages of the supply chain and improve their level of service.

What design thinking can do for L&D

While cloud-based learning and development (L&D) offers great potential to employers, those benefits are not yet materializing because employees are not engaging with the digital learning, according to Armin Hopp. In this guest blog for The Record, Hopp explains how design thinking can help improve learning delivery. “Design thinking is user-centric, emanating from the user experience (UX) discipline. The goal is to get inside the user’s head, understanding everything from how the user logs in to start with, through to how relevant, engaging—and navigable—the user is finding the learning content,” he writes. Hopp says smart learning systems can predict what will interest and engage each person using artificial intelligence software. The software also analyzes each employee’s response to learning, the speed at which they learn and how successfully they are assimilating new concepts. That analysis forms the basis of algorithms that can customize learning delivery to suit each person, leading to more active learning experiences that stick. “The user-centered approach of design thinking, starting with a deep empathy with each user, their needs and pain points, will drive individual learning experiences that achieve the desired results and meet organizational goals,” he writes.

Best practices for learning and development

Study after study shows that the lack of career advancement or learning opportunities is among the top reasons why employees are likely to resign. This HRZone article covers the best practices for employee training. “Each company is unique, what works for one organization might not work in yours,” the article notes. Here are the top three best practices of employee training, according to the article: 1. Teaching time management for better productivity and efficient use of time and resources. 2. Teaching effective communication, not only among colleagues but those in other departments too, for a steady business flow. 3. Updating skills with effective training programs. “Providing effective training has always been one of the hardest aspects of a business. Take note that humans are complex, and you’ll be dealing with a whole lot of complex minds. As an employer, you have to know how to approach these complex minds and make sure that they learn what has to be learned,” the article concludes.

Four steps to convincing the C-suite to make learning a priority

If the above statistics on millennials’ thirst for on-the-job training aren’t enough to persuade the C-suite about the importance of learning and development (L&D), this TLNT articleoutlines four ways L&D yields real benefits to companies: 1. L&D creates agile employees, which results in companies staying ahead of the competition. 2. It improves retention and recruitment by making the employees more interested and engaged. 3. It can help address the growing skills gap to have the right talent for tomorrow’s work. 4. L&D reduces workplace distractions that impact productivity. “The smartest companies are rethinking how they prioritize learning and development in an age of continuous innovation and change. By engaging workers, helping them build careers within the organization, and equipping them with the knowledge and opportunities they need to innovate, employees and businesses alike can reap the benefits,” the article states.

How banks can close the digital skills gap

Finding qualified IT professionals is an uphill battle for banks, writes Meg Conlan in this BizTech blog. She cites a Peak 10 study, which found half of banking institutions have a difficult or a very difficult time filling positions in data analytics, user experience design, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other areas. Conlan outlines three steps banks can take to overcome hiring challenges. 1. Outsource IT tasks, especially cybersecurity: “By handing off the monitoring and management of security technologies, in-house IT teams can spend less time putting out security “fires” and instead focus on projects that further core objectives and promote innovation,” she writes. 2. Be open to workers with alternative IT training: Conlan points out how traditional degree programs are no longer the only path to a career in IT. Alternative education programs, such as coding boot camps, provide immersive training over a shorter period of time. 3. Develop tech talent from within: “Promote and train existing workers to build an in-house team that can keep pace with fast-paced technology changes,” she suggests.

Skills gap remains a top concern for U.S. businesses

According to the annual JP Morgan Chase Business Leaders Outlook report released last week, American business owners feel better than they have in years, but they are nervous about finding the skilled workers they need to grow as older workers retire. “Businesses of all sizes are concerned about the supply of qualified candidates: 45 percent of midsize business executives are extremely or very concerned about it, as are 31 percent of small business executives,” BusinessWire reports. On the up side, the report recorded some of the highest levels of optimism about the economy. Among midsize businesses, 69 percent are optimistic about the global economy, more than double last year’s number. Among small businesses, optimism about the global economy increased 10 points from the previous year, reaching 51 percent. Midsize businesses also indicated they are likely to boost spending on hiring and pay: Hiring of full-time personnel went up 7 points to 64 percent, and compensation went up to 76 percent, up 5 points from last year.

Building an agile learning culture

In this PeopleMatters article, Sharon Lobo discusses the importance of developing an agile learning culture for the workforce in the face of evolution and digital disruption. She recommends following these four key steps to creating the right learning culture: 1. Mapping learning programs to individual needs; 2. Creating a cloud-based research resource pool; 3. Appreciating, rewarding and incentivizing learning; 4. Encouraging peer learning and group activities. “Companies must concentrate on a people-driven business model to build an agile learning culture and leverage its advantages. Not only does it make human resources in the organization more efficient; it also gives them a sense of belongingness as they feel valued in a thriving ecosystem,” Lobo writes.

Millennials want VR in the workplace

Smart offices cannot come soon enough for millennials, argues Andrew Arnold in this Forbes Under30 blog post. He refers to the key findings of a 2016 study: Millennials believe workplace technology is far behind what they have in their homes and are more likely to quit a job that has sub-standard technology in the office. More than half (58 percent) of millennial workers prefer high-tech office perks, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), as opposed to traditional offerings such as free snacks and ping pong tables. “But the biggest overall reason that millennials want AR/VR products in their professional lives is that they believe it will increase their productivity,” Arnold writes. Millennials want to use VR for training, collaboration, and developing and testing new ideas, according to the research. But more interestingly, Arnold points out that VR can help improve focus and privacy and provide meaningful recess time. “While AR/VR has been slow to move into the workplace, they are the future of businesses that intend to attract millennial talent. Millennials ‘get it.’ In the near future, they will be demanding it,” he writes.

WEF unveils ‘Reskilling Revolution’

At the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, reskilling the workforce was one of the “two massive macroeconomic trends,” writes Jason Bloomberg in this Forbes column. During the gathering, the organization announced the IT Skills Initiative, a new tech-reskilling drive targeting one million workers in the next three years. “We need responsive solutions and coordination from all parts of society – governments, citizens and private industry alike – to re-envision an educational system based on lifelong learning that can fully prepare workers for the jobs of the future,” said Klaus Schwab, WEF’s Executive Chairman. “This initiative is a clear example of industry leaders taking concerted, collective action to address a major social challenge at scale.” The initiative was conceived by the WEF’s IT Governors community, of which Accenture is a founding partner.

Google’s solution to filling IT jobs

Last week, Google announced a new certificate program through the Coursera platform to give people the basic skills to get an entry-level IT support job in one year. “Natalie Van Kleef Conley, former head of Google’s tech support program, was having trouble finding IT support specialists so she spearheaded the certificate program,” reports Kim Hart for Axios. “It’s also part of Google’s initiative to help Americans get skills needed to get a new job in a changing economy.” The program will match certificate holders with not just Google, but others such as Bank of America, Sprint, PNC Bank and GE Digital. Hart notes that entry-level IT jobs are typically higher paying ($62,670 in 2016) than similar roles in other fields. “A lot of companies struggle to fill these roles,” she writes. “This certificate curriculum is an acknowledgement from these employers that they’re going to need to train Americans for those jobs, since the administration has made it clear it will make it harder to rely on foreign talent.”