As a result of COVID-19 safety precautions, a huge number of employees packed up their offices and began working from home. As the world is approaching a new normal and employees are called back into the office, lots of employers are embracing hybrid work arrangements – where employees work a few days per week in the office and some from home – and for good reason.
In a PwC survey, only 8% of employees currently working from home want to return to the office fulltime, with 65% preferring a hybrid arrangement. Additionally, during this pandemic-induced remote work surge, businesses across the board saw productivity gains. In a McKinsey survey published in May 2021, executives reported a 58% and 49% improvement in individual and team productivity, with only 11% and 10% reporting worsened productivity, respectively.
To support employees in this hybrid work model, employers must focus on employee health and wellness, employee engagement, productivity, and training. When training can provide effective tools, connections, resources, and clarity, it reduces stress, fosters team relationships, promotes employee loyalty and positivity, and increases productivity. As you design and implement training, reskilling and upskilling programs in your hybrid workforce, consider these 4 ways to make sure it works effectively.
Make Training Interactive & Inclusive for All Learners
First, consider the type of training and the group who needs it. Is it an organization-wide policy-related training, like Harassment Prevention, or is it specific skill training for a small group of employees?
For large group standardized training, on-demand digital learning modules are recommended. This is delivered in an individual format where employees can complete the training at their own pace and at a time and place that’s best for them. Using a Learning Management System (LMS) that fits your organization is encouraged here. The reason for this is two-fold. For the employee, the training is individually interactive, and they don’t have to be boring.
More and more LMS courses can provide the content in a way that’s entertaining, educational and ensures the individual’s participation. For the HR Professional managing this process, an LMS centralizes the process so it’s easy to assign, track and evaluate each course – which gives back much needed time in a workday. Whether you use an LMS or develop these courses in-house, try to incorporate video, polls, quizzes/games, and infographics to support interactivity.
For those one-time training sessions which may be led by a manager to upskill or reskill a small group of employees, facilitating the training together in a virtual space may be best. This collaborative training environment encourages employees to suggest ideas and ask questions, and results in everyone benefiting from the insights and clarifications raised on the topic.
Using Zoom, WebEx or similar video conferencing software encourages employee engagement and is as close to in-person training as you can get. Even if you have some learners in the office, have them all join via video conference so that everyone has equal ability to engage and interact.
Create Strategic Training Partnerships
A report from LinkedIn Learning found that 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. Especially for training employees on new skills, why not partner with organizations in your community who are already developing and providing these learning opportunities – community and technical colleges.
If this is a new partnership for you, don’t worry, it’s easy to get the ball rolling. Your first step is to identify skill gaps in your teams. This could be soft skills like creativity or persuasion, or hard skills like cloud computing or video production. Then, reach out to learning institutions in your industry or community who might offer courses in those skill areas.
Talking to department heads and/or administrative leaders is a great place to start the conversation about partnerships and approaching coursework.
Keep in mind this can be a mutually beneficial relationship. They may have traditional students looking for internships and job placements which may be a match for entry level needs in your organization.
Check in with Employees to Identify Ways to Improve
As with all workforce initiatives, feedback is vital to know if you’re missing the mark, and gain insight into how and where to improve. To make sure you are getting the feedback that’s needed, build feedback loops into the training process in different areas using a few different methods.
For on-demand learning, use surveys created by the LMS and ask your LMS how you can include periodic pop-up questions throughout on-line learning modules. For video conference training, encourage people to use the chat function to send questions during the training session and plan for time at the end of the session for suggestions.
It’s also a good idea to create an overall training survey that can gauge not only how well the current training programs are working but can also assess whether employees feel training is on the right topics, and whether adequate training opportunities are available to everyone. An HR expertise provider like Taskly can help you build a pulse survey to provide immediate feedback.
Additionally, ensure there is someone people can come to with various inquiries related to training. This way employees have a resource to raise questions and ideas at any time, not just in response to a survey.
Set Training Goals and Analyze Results
Along with feedback, how else do we know if training programs are successful? By setting goals and analyzing results. From surveys and conversations with employees, managers, and executives you can understand the organization’s expectations for its training programs and then set clear, relevant goals.
Remember, when you are first establishing hybrid training programs, these goals might be simpler so you can focus on working out the systematic kinks. Then, these goals can become bigger and more aligned with company values once the foundations are solid.
No matter where you are with establishing hybrid training programs, being able to identify the desired outcome of training and show the program’s ability to meet that outcome is key to the continued success and future budgets for this critical employee engagement area. And, if the program didn’t quite meet those desired outcomes, having the goals laid out up front will enable you to realize the miss sooner and analyze exactly what needs to be done to meet those outcomes.
Hybrid workforces may be the wave of the future but one thing that won’t go out of style is fostering employee health and wellness, while promoting engagement and productivity.
When developing training for your hybrid workforce make sure training is interactive and inclusive, and set up strategic partnerships with learning institutions in your industry and community. Then, make sure your programs are working by collecting feedback to know what’s beneficial and what needs improvement, and set organization-specific goals for your training programs and follow up to analyze results.
Partnering with an HR expertise provider, such as Taskly, can help ensure that your organization has an organized, up-to-date, and engaging process for recruiting, training, retaining, and leveraging your hybrid workforce.