Employee success begins with replacing legacy training

Written by Khadim Batti on 11 October 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

Khadim Batti has a new name for HR.

We hear quite a lot about mapping the right customer journey and weaving the perfect customer experience. Rightly so, that’s how you make it compelling for customers to do business with you.

But how often do we hear about the right employee journey or the perfect employee experience? Almost never, isn’t it? Business functions are getting more and more sophisticated and external customer facing initiatives are turning ever smarter but, ironically, companies still remain archaic in their internal employee targeted initiatives, like employee training.

Employee training and support is still bland

Just imagine. If training was a SaaS product, how would companies sell it? They would probably pack in elements like context, relevancy, personalisation, ease of use etc to make it as appealing as possible. Contrast this picture with the current state of affairs in internal employee training.

It’s still the same old bland classroom training. According to the Training Industry Report for 2016, about 48.3% of enterprises continue to rely on instructor-led classroom coaching for their employees. Would they use the same methods for customers? Highly unlikely.

It is also interesting to note that smaller and midsize companies seem to rely on legacy training methods more than enterprise companies.

About 61.8% of smaller companies seem to believe in instructor-led training methodology, according to the same report. Learning management systems are an alternative option but something that’s used more in conjunction with classroom coaching than as a standalone method.

Companies need to think that if they are sophisticating each of their business functions and measuring the ROI on them, why not do the same with HR and Learning & Development?

Also, text-based help manuals are more often than not the only accompaniment for employees trying to understand a new software. They must learn from the manual and clarify doubts from the manual.

ROI of legacy training methods

So, the question we need to ask is if it’s working. What’s the ROI on these standard training methods? Is it making employees more efficient? Is their knowledge and proficiency increasing? The Training Industry Report doesn’t talk about ROI but it does mention that the expenditure per employee is about $814.

Companies are not changing the status quo with regards to learning and development because their employees have no choice but to accede. And companies, on the other hand, are not really measuring anything.

Teach and test puts pressure on employees

The bigger problem though is that classroom-based lessons are often followed by evaluation tests as it was in school. True, it’s the obvious follow-up to teaching but the question is if they are trustworthy enough to say with conviction that the imparted training was efficient and successful.

Employment is a stressful vocation and evaluation tests don’t make it easier either. In turn, they place further pressure on employees. Failure in evaluation tests is followed by more hours of classroom learning. So, if the method wasn’t efficient in the first place, how can it possibly work efficiently as a follow-up?

Not to mention the additional pressure. Of course, we are assuming no fault on part of the employee because he/she was hired on the basis of a stringent interview process.

Companies need to think that if they are sophisticating each of their business functions and measuring the ROI on them, why not do the same with HR and Learning & Development? True, HR is modernising but that’s largely restricted to people management and operations.

Making HR and training methods efficient and measurable

Why not sophisticate training to be more efficient and ROI measurable? If yes, the question is how.

HR, even more so than L&D, can’t remain a legacy function anymore. Companies need to start looking at their employees like customers. They need to turn around their HR functions so that it’s not just HR anymore but transforms into employee success.

Employee success needs to be imagined and built to emulate customer success practices. Eventually, both should have the same goals because both have similar motivations. For instance, it's customer retention that is the main goal of customer success through continuous support because customer retention is better than customer acquisition.


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Similarly, the purpose of employee success should be to ensure employee retention and efficiency through continuous performance support.

Performance support as a substitute to legacy training

Performance support could be anything that helps employees in their functions. Something that is always available to them instead of being a one-time training effort because the business world is highly dynamic and susceptible to change. Companies must put in place mechanisms that are capable of constantly updating employees with changes and how to cope with them.

Every employee learns at a different rate and in a different way. Substituting teach and test with a system that aids their continuous learning and growth helps them learn at their own pace while, of course, allowing them to carry on with their work functions.

What companies need to do is release employees from the cycle of teach of test. After all, learning a new software product is only to perform their functions faster and better. Learning on the go with a support system is the better alternative simply because there is no time and confidence lost in the classroom.

And, of course, since such systems are automated and don’t require an instructor, improvement can be easily measured.

This is not to say that existing L&D systems should be thrown out of the window straightaway. The future, however, lies in systems that continuously aid performance. After all, whether an employee is able to perform his/her duties is what eventually matters.

Employee success sees to it that this is done without placing undue psychological pressures. Employee success is what HR needs to become.

 

About the author

Khadim Batti is the Cofounder and CEO of Whatfix, a SaaS based in-app guidance platform for websites and web applications.

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