This article was originally published on the WorkForce blog. 


Companies aren’t focused on training employees because people are quitting sooner than ever, and employees are quitting sooner because they want better training. It’s a vicious cycle. Here’s how you stop it.


Rodger Humbolt, CEO, leaned into his computer screen as he waited for the Google Hangouts session to load.

One by one, his direct reports joined the video call, smiling from wherever in the world they were at the moment: New York, London, Sydney, Berlin. As the heads of a global organization, they traveled constantly to be with their respective team members. This was their weekly video call.

“Looks like we have everyone,” said Rodger. “Clair, Ryan, Thomas, Elaine—how’re we doing?”

Everyone spoke at once:

“Good!”

“Doing well.”

“Can’t complain!”

“Excellent, thanks for asking.”

“Great,” said Rodger, “let’s get started. First thing’s first: as you all know, there are some major issues with our training program, which is what I wanted to discuss today.”

Everyone nodded their heads in unison.

“From a turnover standpoint,” said Rodger, “this quarter has been particularly disturbing, with 66% of our departing workers citing ‘Inadequate Development Opportunities’ among their top reasons for leaving.”

Chins continued to bob.

“In fact, I’ve personally heard employees say that our training and development program is little more than a bureaucratic exercise, an afterthought,” said Rodger. “And it’s costing us money—a lot of money."

“I’ve heard similar feedback,” said Clair Aaronson, COO. “And I agree, it’s unacceptable. It’s costing us bright, valuable talent.”

“That’s true,” said Ryan Oleg, CFO, “millennials, especially, want training and development opportunities. It’s one of the top qualities they look for in an employer.”

“But some of the managers on my team are jaded,” said Tom Cohen, CHRO. “They’re hesitant to invest in training because people are job hopping more than ever now, leaving the team high and dry.”

“And therein lies the problem,” said Elaine, “people are leaving because they feel stagnant.”

“That’s why I asked each of you to come prepared today with a concrete idea,” said Rodger. “I’m looking for suggestions that’ll help make our lackluster training program something we’re all proud of. Something modern and engaging and seamless. Something we can use to sell candidates while growing the people we already have in place.”

The team wants to create a training program that’ll make their company an employer of choice…

In order to do so, each member suggested leveraging technology to reimagine the training process, making it easier and more intuitive, smarter and more efficient. A training strategy that asks less of the employer while giving more to the employee.

Let’s explore what they came up with:

Clair: “Implement ‘real-time’ training.”

Most of us are hands-on learners. We absorb and retain information best by doing, as opposed to listening and watching, which, unfortunately, is the foundation of most corporate training classes. A classroom setting is the norm.

Real-time training, then, seeks to disrupt that normality by using the powerful computer that’s in your pocket right now. Smart phones, after all, are designed to connect us. So why not use them to connect to a live trainer—a manager, mentor, or even a more experienced colleague—when you need instruction?

This approach wouldn’t replace formal training but, rather, supplement it—as long as a culture that supports the practice of live video instruction is established.

Ryan: “Develop interactive materials.”

Everyone is different in a training setting, entering with varying degrees of knowledge and potential. So why give them materials that treat them otherwise, materials that assume everyone is on the same plane? Why give unique individuals static training materials?

By creating dynamic, interactive documents, employers are giving their people the opportunity to slow down or speed up, to revisit and reconsider. Interactive materials will give your people a modicum of control over their development, which, when coupled with the direction of an experienced manager or trainer, can be a potent and effective way to learn new concepts.

Tom: “Start gamifying.”

Apply points—or any measureable value, for that matter—to a training program, and voila: you’ve created a game. In addition to making any development program more engaging, gamification helps business leaders recognize standout employees in a tangible way, using data.

Gamification can also be used hand-in-hand with interactive materials, helping workers to understand and retain information.

Elaine: “Make it part of the routine.”

Whether your workforce is hourly, salaried, or a combination of both, it’s important to incorporate regular training time into each employee’s schedule. In other words, make it an on-going experience rather than an annual or quarterly chore.

“Whether your workforce is hourly, salaried, or both, it’s important to establish a regular training schedule for all.”

Using modern workforce management to integrate training and development into every employee’s routine can help institutionalize the aforementioned strategies, creating a system, a process that everyone can anticipate and follow. Make it easy by integrating schedules into your learning management solution.

“Will these measures help us retain people?”

“They will,” said Elaine, her tone confident and resolute. “Because the majority of people who leave us aren’t chasing a new logo, they’re chasing new skills that’ll help them advance their careers. These initiatives are designed to enable those learnings while enhancing the overall experience.”

Yes.”

“I agree.”

“Me, too.”

“Okay,” said Rodger, “where do we start?”