At Afghan Wireless, employee development is an important priority. When employees are supported and empowered to achieve their potential through development programs and initiatives, everyone benefits—the company, the customers, and most of all, the employees themselves.
However, employee development programs must be reviewed and upgraded regularly to remain effective. Outdated employee development programs don’t serve anyone, and they may even do more harm than good if employees feel like they are wasting their time on initiatives that are no longer relevant or current.
Is your company’s employee development program due for a revamp? Here are five of the most common signs that you need to make an update.
1. You aren’t making the most of new technology.
The kind of technology your company uses for employee development will likely be one of your most important clues as to whether or not your development programs are outdated. Contemporary employee development programs make use of the latest workplace technology (including apps, collaborative platforms like Slack, and other real-time interactive technologies) to make program participation easier, more connected, and more engaging for employees. If you’re still relying on legacy technology, your employees may feel that if the development program’s tools are outdated, the content will be as well.
2. You offer training opportunities only a few times per year.
In the past, employee development programs were more likely to be formal, classroom-style training days—one-off events that were treated like special occasions because they took place only once or twice every year. But current workplaces are moving away from this “one and done” approach.
Today, truly effective employee development is seen as a more consistent, ongoing affair in which opportunities for learning and development are seamlessly integrated into employees’ regular schedules and duties. If this is not the approach your company is currently taking, consider updating your employee development efforts to include a mix of online classes, regular on-the-job training opportunities, group learning sessions, and greater encouragement and support for staff to pursue professional development on their own outside of the office.
3. Your development program takes a one-size-fits-all approach.
All of your employees are distinct individuals with their own learning style and preferences. Unfortunately, many outdated development programs are based on a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach that assumes that every employee learns in the same way at the same pace. This can have the effect of alienating employees who don’t match the “ideal” learning style as defined by the program.
While it’s not always necessary to offer completely customized plans for each employee (which may be impossible, in any case, depending on the size of your company), it can help to offer a range of different mix-and-match options (e.g., webcasts, podcasts, group vs. individual modules, etc.) that employees can choose from based on what they feel most comfortable with. Even a small step like this goes a long way in making your entire workforce feel included.
4. You don’t have employee buy-in.
Do you feel like your employees are not especially enthusiastic about the development opportunities offered by your company? If you get the sense that your employees think that participation isn’t worth their time or that there are better things they could be doing, it’s definitely time to update your development program.
A lack of employee buy-in is a clear signal that your program is not doing what it should; that is, building loyalty among employees and showing workers that you care about their careers and their future. The good news is that there’s an easy solution to this problem: ask your employees what they want! Employee feedback is an incredibly valuable tool for employers who are looking to make changes to their development and training programs, so be sure to ask your staff what is and isn’t working for them about your current initiatives as well as what they feel they would get more benefit from instead.
5. There are significant skills gaps in your workforce.
Did you know that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of managers don’t believe that their employees will be able to keep up with future skill needs? This figure comes from a recent survey by Gartner on how organizations can better prepare their employees for their current roles as well as their future careers.
As an employer, it’s important to recognize your own role in helping your current employees build the skills they need for the future. If there are gaps in your workforce’s skillset, part of your responsibility is to address those gaps by updating and improving your employee development offerings. Think about your company’s future objectives and ask yourself how you can empower your present staff to develop the necessary skills to achieve those objectives. This not only helps you to build engagement among your employees, but it reduces your potential need to hire externally (almost always a more expensive and time-consuming strategy) to ensure that critical skill needs are met.