It’s tempting to think that all of our problems can be solved with technology, but until we reach the singularity, training and development managers will continue to face the challenge of choosing when to use technology and not.
There are many aspects of training a new employee that are achieved optimally by traditional methods – that is, human-to-human interaction. Mentoring, for example, is a great way to acclimate new employees and teach the nuances of office culture. Robot mentors aren’t quite in the arena yet.
However, there is definitely a plethora of actual market-ready technological solutions out there to choose from. With so many options available, the puzzle becomes that of choosing what technologies will be the most cost-effective and reap the most benefits.
To create an effective technology strategy, employee training and development managers need to identify areas where technology is the best solution, not just another solution. Below are three challenges facing employee training where technology provides a unique advantage over conventional methods.
Challenge: Onboarding at the Speed of Growth
In the best case scenario, your company’s success is driving growth and, as a result, new hires to take on the accumulating workload. But before these employees can contribute to your bottom-line there is a necessary onboarding process required to bring them up to speed.
With each employee you invest in, the company does not see a return until they are fully trained and making use of their skills. From the moment recruitment begins till the time when they are independently functioning in their role, new hires remain a financial liability. Cutting down this time reduces the cost of each new employee to the company and allows them to become an asset sooner.
If your company is growing fast, the benefit (or loss) is compounded by the pressure to take advantage of an increased number of opportunities. When more leads are coming in, you don’t want to have talented sales people sitting in orientation and lectures for two weeks. This can be said of just about any department. If customers are demanding a new feature, you’re better off utilizing your developers than not and if your company is experiencing a larger volume of orders, you want your fulfillment team to be organized and ready to deliver now.
So where does technology help in onboarding employees faster?
In this case, on screen guides can be applied to existing (or new) software systems that employees depend on to complete their job. While enterprise systems such as Salesforce, Workday or Pegasystems allow for amazing organization and analysis, they also take a great deal of time to fully understand all of their capabilities and processes.
The conventional method is to have managers or training staff sit with each new employee to guide them through each use case or, even worse, expect new employees to remember the instructions for each and every use case from classroom style training. There are also manuals and videos which can be digital and on demand, but the tech alternative far surpasses these methods in accelerating the rate employees learn.
Technology makes it possible to include experimental learning when training new employees on software – as recommended in the 70:20:10 training model. Implementing on screen guides allows employees to jump into active work as they train; Using this technology, each new hire is able to select the task they would like to perform and receive accurate help from start to finish. This reduces time-in-training, the hours demanded of managerial staff and the number of errors that occur when adopting the software.
Challenge: Engaging the Digital Generation
Millennial this, millennial that, your newest employees learn in a vastly different method than the generation before. This is to be expected considering the largest generation of the workforce has had computers assisting them throughout their entire education.
Companies relying on conventional methods of teaching are denying their new employees the learning method they are used to and learn best from. In effect, new recruits being trained with conventional methods such as lectures and training manuals are either going to spend additional time adjusting to an “old-fashioned” learning method or (more likely) retain less information.
Psychology experts confirm that millennials need relevant, active or experimental coursework to satisfy their multitasking tendencies. Sitting through a lecture or referring to a training manual is not engaging enough. While this can be part of the training process, it does not satisfy the variety that Gen Y desires. If your goal is to decrease time-to-competence and increase employee engagement, technology should be included in a multi-faceted approach to training.
This is an area where a tech solution can easily trump conventional methods. Choosing a solution that transforms your training from static information to interactive, objective based skill builders will improve retention for the new employees who require more than a lecture.
Challenge: Interpreting Your Information for Action
In tangent to our ability to collect information, business has become significantly more data driven. The challenge for training and development managers is interpreting this abundant data in order to gain actionable insights.
For some, spreadsheets packed with data open a path of unlimited prospects. But for the rest of us not so well versed in statistics (or excel – how do I calculate the standard deviation again?) this information is useless without software to crunch the numbers. While most software includes some level of analytics, it may not be enough for training and development managers to determine real inefficiencies lurking within their systems.
Training builds the foundation for an employee’s potential within a company; identifying and removing inefficiencies at this stage allows the employee to build a larger (more profitable) structure throughout their employment.
The solution to overcoming the shortfalls of unprocessed data and analytics is to adopt business intelligence and machine learning programs into your training software. To be clear – this is far beyond basic analytics that tell simple facts such as how many users completed a task or the average amount of time a task was completed in.
Advanced machine learning analytic software is a step above because it doesn’t have to be configured to find inefficiencies. This saves time on both ends, when the program is installed and when the data is analyzed, as the algorithms do all of the work for you. In many cases, machine learning analytics can find issues in areas where the companies didn’t know to look.
But what matters is that this information can be utilized to make better business and training decisions. KPI’s such as time in training for FTE and cost per training for FTE can be improved if managers have the information necessary to determine what works and what doesn’t.
Full disclosure: I’m biased. WalkMe is a comprehensive technology that can tackle all three of these employee training challenges. You should try a demo today to find out for yourself. But regardless of this bias – the fact remains that there is a strategic way to decide when technology is better than conventional methods.
To identify more training and development challenges that can be solved with technology: ask yourself
- Is there an alternative to the conventional method for solving this problem?
- And if so, will it improve our bottom-line by saving money or time?
Or you can wait until the technological singularity.