What Employees Want: A New Look at L&DWritten by Madisyn Villamil
Amid the Great Resignation, a growing skills gap, and a push for employee investment, companies need to understand what employees want from learning and development (L&D) programs.
Effective L&D programs boost employee engagement and retention. A study by Gallup and Amazon found 57% of U.S. workers want to upgrade their skills, and 48% of workers would switch to a new job for better skills training opportunities.
These statistics stress the importance of delivering the engaging learning opportunities employees desire. Let’s talk about how you can create impactful training experiences in your organization that employees will actually enjoy and want to take.
What Employees Want From Training
Every employee has unique desires and needs, but there are some factors workers agree contribute to a positive training experience. Let’s dive into what employees think an impactful training program should have.
Employees desire learning opportunities relevant to their current position, future position, and the business as a whole. They don’t want generic training that doesn’t build useful skills for their role.
For example, your marketing manager may wish to train on a new email marketing software that will help them be more efficient rather than a general digital marketing course. Employees want training to link to their daily tasks and career goals. Delivering relevant training demonstrates you respect your workers’ time and listen to their needs.
Everyone learns differently, and employers must provide training adaptable to everyone’s learning style and pace. Some employees learn better in cohorts and group projects, while others learn better alone. Some employees prefer 30 minutes of learning daily, while others would rather do one long weekly training session.
In addition, employees desire personalized feedback, resources, and guidance to help them reach their unique learning goals. L&D teams should be mindful of how their training programs adapt to all employees.
When we reflect on our school days, we remember some classes we loved and others we dreaded. Some lessons were exciting, and others made us sleepy. As for the classes we loved, we remember those experiences the most.
The same concept applies to workplace learning. Hour-long monotone lectures or poorly acted 2D videos will be forgotten almost instantly. Your employees desire engaging, memorable, and fun learning experiences.
Training that stimulates emotion, grabs attention, and incentivizes the trainee to complete it is what employees want. Interactivity, immersion, and gamification are all engaging elements employees desire from training.
Learning by doing is among the most effective training strategies, yet this approach is neglected in many corporate L&D programs. Instead of simply taking a post-training exam, employees want to participate in hands-on, challenging projects that allow them to use and hone their new skills.
Employees don’t see the point in building skills if they can’t apply them—understandably so. 70% of knowledge is acquired through new, on-the-job experiences. In addition to traditional skills development, employees want opportunities to apply their knowledge.
A Clear Path to a Promotion
Employees want to know if their training time and effort will lead to a promotion, raise, or other incentives. They look for a clear path to a promotion, and assurance that new skills will help them get there. If employees don’t see a clear path to promotion in their role, they’ll go elsewhere to find it.
This is especially true for the youngest generation of workers. LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report found employees ages 18 to 34 placed the most value on opportunities for career growth than any other age group. Employees want to be rewarded for developing their skills.
How to Create Impactful Training
Now that you better understand what employees want, let’s talk about how to create impactful training at your company.
Evaluate Skills Gaps
Before you begin designing and rolling out your training programs, evaluating skills gaps is essential to providing relevant learning experiences. Evaluate skills gaps at an individual and organizational level to help you set relevant goals and tie learning experiences to them.
Some actions you can take to evaluate skills gaps are:
- Talk to managers and ask what skills their teams need to be more efficient and meet business KPIs.
- Give employees formal tests or surveys to determine what they do and don’t know and what they want to learn.
- Interview employees individually to determine what skills will help them reach their goals.
By determining the skills gaps in your organization, you can avoid generic training and create learning opportunities that will help employees develop skills to be more effective in their roles.
Ask Employees What They Want
Another critical part of creating relevant and engaging training is asking employees what they want. Do they want micro-learning sessions? Cohort-based training? Gamification?
Putting your employees at the center of the learning design process will ensure the final product is a training program they will get excited about. It also makes employees feel respected because they have a say in what they will spend their valuable time on.
Encourage employees to be transparent about what they want, and be flexible in how you design and deliver new training to fit their needs. Your workers will value honest and authentic communication.
Giving employees options makes learning more adaptive and flexible. You can start by creating training programs that address a variety of skills. Some may need to be mandatory, like business acumen or public speaking, but others should be optional so employees can choose what skills they want to build.
You may not initially see the need for an accounting employee to train on sales skills, but perhaps they want to cross-train so they can move into a sales role, or they want to get a better picture of the sales process to understand how it impacts their work.
You can also provide options for where, when, and how employees learn. While designing several training courses for each skill may not fit your budget, adopting a blended learning approach can help you accomplish this.
For example, let’s say you’re designing a training course on customer service. You can have participants do individual, self-paced training modules online, and meet as a group to discuss the material once a week. After the group discussion, employees can break into smaller groups to practice their skills by acting out challenging customer scenarios. Employees experience individual, online, classroom-style, and hands-on learning throughout this course.
This blended approach caters to all learning styles and boosts information retention. It also helps employees learn at their own pace rather than the pace of the slowest or fastest learner in the course. Giving options considers every learner and creates a fun, engaging training experience.
Invest in Technology
Technological advancements have made training more engaging and effective than ever, and forward-thinking companies leverage the latest learning technologies.
E-learning helps L&D teams deliver online micro-learning sessions, interactive videos, and self-paced learning modules that cut down training time. While e-learning provides flexibility for where and when employees can learn, it also has downsides, and depending too much on the e-learning approach can hold many learners back.
Self-paced, online learning requires self-discipline and attention, which some employees may struggle with. Many trainees reply to an email or scroll through their phones while an online training video plays. The individualized approach can also create a sense of isolation for those who thrive in group learning environments.
Immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have revolutionized the corporate L&D world by providing engaging, efficient, and impactful training. VR immerses learners in a 360-degree virtual environment using a headset. Learners are entirely cut off from the outside world, wholly dedicated to the subject matter inside their metaverse.
Edstutia helps companies adapt to this new tech cycle and leverage immersive technologies to deliver more effective training experiences. Businesses like Emirates rely on Edstutia to take their training to the next level with extended reality. Our Enterprise Solutions include VR team-building, simulations, learning modules, and more that will enhance your L&D programs.
According to a study by PwC, VR training is four times faster than classroom training, and VR learners are four times more focused than their e-learning peers. In VR, employees can’t open another browser window or doodle in their notebooks—they’re completely immersed in their learning environment.
Employees are also more emotionally connected to VR content and leave VR training feeling more confident to apply their new skills than they do after classroom and online learning. VR simulations and 360-degree video give employees a realistic learning experience and a safe space to practice their skills. In VR, learners can make mistakes, try again, and receive real-time feedback on their performance.
Companies Using VR for Training
BMW, one of the most successful luxury vehicle manufacturers in the world, has been using VR for several years to train its employees. The company relies on VR to train workers in prototyping, design, and the manufacturing process. Virtual reality has helped BMW offer more safe, engaging, and efficient training.
Bank of America (BoA) uses VR to deliver life-like customer service training at nearly 4,300 financial centers. Simulations help BoA employees navigate complex customer scenarios and respond to emotionally-charged situations with professionalism and empathy. The banking giant claims VR has empowered their employees by giving them the skills they need to serve clients.
“VR is highly effective at helping teammates build and retain new skills and it is one of many ways we are using technology to support internal mobility and provide best-in-class learning opportunities.”
— John Jordan, Head of The Academy at Bank of America
UConn Health uses VR to train its surgeons. Real-life surgical mistakes can be fatal, and practicing on cadavers is costly and time-consuming. The hospital adopted VR to provide safe, efficient surgical training at scale. Their commitment to innovative, engaging training is part of the reason it ranks in the top 10% of U.S. hospitals when it comes to patient safety.
Investing in Immersive Technologies
Leveraging immersive technologies will help your organization deliver impactful training experiences and gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent. If you’re ready to invest in VR but unsure where to start, reach out to the immersive learning experts at Edstutia. As part of our Enterprise Solutions, we help organizations develop and deliver VR-enhanced training modules that can take place in our fully virtual campus.
Recognize and Reward Employees
Employees want recognition for their hard work and progress. One way to recognize employees who invest in their L&D is to offer rewards. Let’s say every time an employee completes 10 hours of training, they get a free lunch. With every 40 hours of training, you could give employees a small bonus.
While these rewards are motivating, the ultimate recognition employees desire is a promotion. Managers should keep track of employees working hard to develop and apply new skills, and these employees should be considered first for promotions and new internal positions. Promoting them demonstrates to all employees that training paves a clear path to career advancement.
Ask for Feedback
Asking for feedback is crucial to understanding if a training course was effective and what improvements employees would like to see. Consider surveying your workers after they finish a training course and applying their feedback.
Some questions you can ask employees after training are:
- Was the training engaging?
- Was the training relevant to your current role or career goals?
- Do you feel confident using the skills you learned?
- Was the training at a comfortable pace for you?
- Were you satisfied with the learning technology used?
- What did you like most about the training?
- How would you improve the training?
Asking these questions will help you understand the value your employees are getting from your training programs and identify what is and isn’t working, so you can create employee-centric learning experiences.
What Employees Want: Wrap-Up
Relevance, engagement, and a clear path to career advancement are all part of what employees want from training. Impactful training motivates and engages workers, which leads to better employee experience and retention.
Edstutia offers an immersive, engaging, and cost-effective way to bring your company’s L&D programs to the next level. VR learning leverages the latest in immersive technologies and instills a learn-by-doing approach to deliver training your employees will be excited about.
Learn about our Enterprise Solutions to discover how Edstutia can help you maximize the potential of VR training in your organization.