You have a learning management system (LMS) course library full of content. Some of that content directly relates to certain jobs or tasks. Other content is more general, but still very useful, such as soft skills training.
But where do you draw the training access line, especially when some might fall into both categories. You might be doing your learners a disservice by restricting training access.
You don’t want to crush your employees’ eagerness to learn, but they also can’t devote so much time to learning that there’s not enough time for their everyday tasks.
Here’s how you and your team can determine how much training access to grant your learners and how to strike the balance between encouraging employee development and maintaining day-to-day productivity.
It All Starts with Research
Few people get excited to do research, but identifying how many hours should be allotted for mandatory training and how much should go to elective training is essential. Since employees in different departments are going to require different training, it’s best to get feedback from department managers and people on the front lines to extract the most accurate information.
Ask department leaders the following questions:
- How many mandatory courses does one employee in this department need to take?
- What is the average completion time for each course?
- Can the course be completed in one sitting or should it be broken up into multi-day sessions?
- Can we incorporate learning into everyday tasks?
- How much money does a worker generate for the company in one hour?
- How many other employees will be needed to complete the day-to-day tasks while one person is training?
Once those questions for mandatory courses are answered, now it’s time to figure out how much time to allot for elective courses. Consider the following:
- Assuming an employee completes all mandatory courses, how many hours per month can be devoted to elective training or courses?
- Will the employee need to extend normal work hours to accommodate the elective training?
- What is the budget to pay for this elective training?
- Will there be some type of monetary award or recognition for employees who complete a certain amount of training?
It’s about balance. You don’t want to crush your employees’ eagerness to learn, but you also need them to perform their everyday tasks.
The Power of Soft Skills
Once you have a clear picture of how much time per month can be allocated to mandatory courses and elective courses, start turning your attention to what kinds of elective courses learners can access.
When it comes to elective courses, a good rule of thumb is to offer content focused on bolstering soft skills – an area that deserves dire attention. A study by PayScale shows hiring managers think recent college grads lack important soft skills. According to the study, surveyed hiring managers say the top soft skills new grads lack are critical thinking and problem solving, followed by attention to detail and communication.
It’s not just younger workers who can benefit from sharpening their soft skill arsenal, most everyone can stand to improve on either communication, time management or collaboration, despite how long they’ve been in the workforce.
Refine Technical Skills
Hiring managers are also calling for refined technical or hard skills. The same PayScale study showed writing proficiency, public speaking and data analysis using software/applications like Excel, Tableau, Python and R are the top hard skills new grads lack.
In fact, some big tech companies are going straight to college campuses to ensure grads are properly prepared to fill job positions – an apparent result of U.S. colleges failing to produce enough graduates with the skills these companies need.
Even though companies like Facebook and IBM are partnering with colleges and reviewing curriculums, you still need to ensure your employees have the opportunity to develop or refine hard technical skills. Bringing your workers up to speed on software/applications they use every day makes them more productive. And if they have an interest in learning a new technology, they’ll appreciate that you’ve given them the chance to grow.
So by now, you might be saying, “Okay, so maybe workers are lacking skills, but I won’t want to sharpen their skills only to have them leave for greener pastures.” And that’s where we are going to point you to a popular quote by business thought leader Sir Richard Branson:
Leverage LMS Functionality
The right LMS should simplify course accessibility, so you don’t have to spend your whole day manually granting course access. Take advantage of the following LMS functions without taking a hit on productivity.
- On-the-job training— Incorporate learning into everyday tasks so you don’t have to block off so many big chunks of time for learning. It’s more engrained into the workplace.
- Segmentation—Create learner segments based on organizational and/or geographical hierarchies. C-level executives benefit from different training than associates and certain states or countries may require different training than others. By segmenting, you can rule out courses and training users absolutely don’t need.
- Learning paths—Map out a skill-specific learning path for learners within the LMS. This makes the journey clear and can encourage leaners to continue, even after one course or training sessions is complete.
- Modern Interface—An LMS with a modern and intuitive interface means users can quickly and effectively use the LMS, then get back to their day-to-tasks without much user friction. Companies can start reaping the benefit of trainings and courses sooner rather than later.
Develop a Strong Learning Culture
Some naturally curious employees won’t need much incentive. They’ll dive headfirst into learning opportunities, while others might need more of a push. That’s why it’s so important to create a strong learning culture, where employees are motivated and eager to explore new material and insights.
Gamification and incentivizing learning should be woven into your overall strategy and process. A strong learning culture also incorporates:
- Company leadership demonstrating the importance of training by participating in it themselves and talking about it
- Developing clear paths for growth within the company that enable employees to see what skills will help them develop professionally
- Respecting blocked out time allotted for learning or supporting scheduled training time
Essentially, if you want to offer more of a carte blanche approach to training access, then building that learning culture helps ensure learners are more likely to take advantage of it. Learners want to feel in control of their development, so offer them the support and resources for them to flourish.