When you look at your workforce, you’ll see a mix of valued, and experienced, long-standing employees, as well as new employees who may not have entered the physical workspace yet due to COVID-19 restrictions, writes Tiffany Gierke, Head of Education at SYSPRO.

They all have one thing in common though — the need to be upskilled so they can grow and thrive, while contributing meaningfully to the organisation. Skills development is one of the most important aspects when considering user-uptake and safeguarding your ERP investment because employees need to be in touch with technological evolution and new developments.

Constant advances in technology, and the global pandemic have changed both the way we work, and where we are working.  In 2020 we saw a rise in e-learning, but for many, finding both the time and the motivation to complete e-learning sessions has proved challenging.  With onsite training no longer an option in most instances, Learning and Development Managers have found themselves having to tackle the challenge of continuing to upskill their employees remotely, and doing so in a way that keeps them focused, and engaged — all while watching their training budgets.

If you are responsible for upskilling your teams, here are some ways that your business can invest in its people in 2021.

  1. Provide learning opportunities for your employees so they can grow

People are an organisation’s greatest asset and investing in learning and development opportunities for them has many benefits. By enabling them to learn new skills and become proficient on new systems, you are assisting them to grow, gain confidence in their newfound skills, and potentially providing them with opportunities to move up into more senior roles, or into different areas in the business.

Throughout this process, employee engagement should be driven using recognition badges and leadership boards. These social reward structures also offer an opportunity to track employee engagement and performance.

  1. Choose easily accessible online training platforms

Many businesses have had to shift to a more digital environment – in all departments from operations, to sales, and distribution. In many instances, this has meant forgoing the old paper-based systems and having to quickly train their employees to use the company’s digitally-enabled ERP systems more effectively. For some employees this may be the first time they are using an ERP system, so it is important to have easily accessible online training platforms that enable them to learn, not only the basics of how to use the ERP software, but also how to gain the most from the individual modules that are relevant to their specific area of focus.

  1. Personalise your employee’s learning experiences

Today, everything from recommended restaurants on your favourite food delivery app, to online shopping, or suggestions on what to watch on your chosen streaming apps are all driven by AI. These recommendations are based on your past choices which are an indication of your areas of interest. Shouldn’t your e-learning experiences be personalized as well? Your ERP solution provider should run training on a platform that offers personalised learning experiences — across all devices — with modules that are less focused on heavy theory, and rather infused with useful practical applications, curated content, and micro-learning assets. The platform should be able to identify each user’s particular area of interest and make recommendations of courses the user might be interested in enrolling in, in the future.

  1. Choose micro-learning to help time-constrained employees to study

Let’s be honest, many people battle to find the time to complete additional studies, and the longer and more intense the course, the more difficult it becomes to remain engaged and prioritise that required time. Micro-learning offers learners with limited free time the opportunity to upskill in manageable, shorter modules which help to increase knowledge transfer and engagement and increase development speed.

Because the modules are smaller, they often cost less which helps to reduce L&D costs for an organisation while still ensuring their employees are getting valuable learning transfer. The real benefit lies in the opportunity to ‘learn as you go’ and upskill in a particular area in the instant when it is required. In fact, a LinkedIn Learning survey recently showed that 58% of employees prefer opportunities that allow learning at their own pace.

  1. Choose ‘Pay as You Go’ learning platforms to make learning more accessible during tough times

While subscription learning based-models lead to longer term and ongoing development, businesses should also consider the benefits of on demand learning or ‘Pay as You Go’ learning models (PAYG). For the L&D team, PAYG courses assist employees to upskill in immediate areas of interest and even further develop areas such as soft skills. A hybrid model consisting of subscription and PAYG learning is the best option to ensure innovative skill-building and ongoing talent management.

  1. Appoint an external training champion to keep your teams motivated

One of the reasons that in-person training — particularly in groups — is so effective, is because learners are motivated by the social aspect of the program. Attendees find the discussions useful and interesting; they are spurred on by competition with others; and they learn more from other people’s real-life workplace experiences — sometimes identifying areas where they have struggled with a particular aspect of the software they are using, or discovering the benefits of particular reports and how these could help to make their daily lives easier.

Due to the pandemic and the changing way we work, most training is now online, which is why it is important for learners to have external motivation champions and mentors in the organisation, who show them that they are invested in their growth, can assist when they need help, and who are genuinely happy when they succeed. It makes the learning process easier and more engaging and fun. If your business has a culture of learning, then your employees are more likely to actively seek out learning opportunities, which is good for them and for the business.

In order for employees to remain productive, they need to feel their company is investing in their personal growth and equipping them with the necessary skills to do this. By investing in ongoing training, your business will show the employee they are valued, and you’ll have a team that is operating at peak performance levels.

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