Most HR pros face a new dilemma: How can I train a hybrid workforce?
It’ll be different, but not necessarily difficult, experts agree.
Good training has always been essential to a great workforce. Now that COVID-19 has upended workplaces, HR pros will need to find creative ways to train and reskill employees.
Most HR pros have employees working in new ways – remote, hybrid, on-site or some combination of those. So your training will need a new look and feel. And when you offer training that fits where employees are now, you prove you’re invested in their careers. That motivates and engages them.
“Training and reskilling will be critical to overall business success in the post-COVID world,” says Balraj Kalsi, General Manager of Online Skills Learning at Cengage. “When employees are able to access the skills they want and feel supported in whatever career trajectory they choose, they are more engaged and loyal to their employer.”
Here are six ways to train your new workforce.
Partner with community colleges
If you’ve never done it before, now’s the time to consider partnering with community colleges to train a hybrid workforce.
“Academic partnerships also put the employee in control of their continued learning experience, providing the opportunity to choose how they upskill, reskill or explore new interests,” says Kalsi. “Employees today want the ability to manage their own career trajectory. By working with a community or technical college, businesses can provide the flexibility and learning opportunities that allow staff to move up the ladder or make diagonal shifts into a completely different department.”
Here’s how to make it happen:
- Identify skills or labor gaps in your workforce – for instance – coding, accounting, copywriting or management.
- Reach out to local institutions: Talk to department heads or tenured professors about in-demand skills and how to approach coursework.
- Create a two-way road: Benefits might include externships for the college’s traditional students, which creates skills for your entry-level jobs. That boosts the school’s placement rate and the experience for your entry-level employees.
- Set goals: Create metrics for success that tie back to annual Learning & Development and hiring goals.
Stick to one mode
Think about the group that needs training – whether you’re going over annual HR policies with large groups or a manger is reskilling a select few employees. Then deliver training that works best for those situations.
For instance, with a group that works together often, you want to level the playing field for everyone included. So it’s a good idea to choose one method – either synchronous (everyone participates at the same time) or asynchronous (employees access the learning on their own time).
Synchronous training is especially important when the training covers processes or information the team needs to function as one. This way, when one employee asks questions, challenges ideas or digs deeper, everyone benefits from clarifications, new insights or deeper analysis.
With less collaborative training, employees can get what they need through asynchronous training at their preferred time, mode and pace. In this case, you can offer more online or recorded training tools for employees to access and consume. But you’ll still want to set reasonable completion deadlines.
Create more on-demand training
With a hybrid workplace, you won’t interact personally with employees as much as they did before COVID-19. So you’ll need to do more online, on-demand training to reskill, upskill or initially train employees going forward.
Ask anyone who leads a group through any form of training to turn on the camera. In this day and age of social media and video blogging, more people are open to being on camera. You might invest in a few cell phone tripods. Even better, give leaders the tools to improve their video presence. To help the novice or reluctant videographer, we put together a guide on making better video.
Once trainers embrace putting their content on video, add those regularly and religiously to your existing resource library. It’s important – regardless of whether your library is neatly organized in a Learning Management System or alphabetized on the company intranet.
To increase traffic and use, send weekly reminders of the information that’s available or new and why it pertains to employees. You can ask front-line leaders to emphasize on-demand topics and sessions that are more pertinent to their team, too.
Get more interactive
When training a hybrid workforce, it’s tough to get every employee in-person together for all your sessions. You’ll want to reserve those full-on, in-person events for the most critical team training.
Beyond that, make your other training as interactive as possible. Employees will likely be more interactive when they’re all on a Zoom training call. Plus, it’s as close to being physically together as you can hope.
Even if you have some employees on-site who can participate in training, while others work remotely, get them all to participate through Zoom. That way, their engagement and abilities to interact are equal.
Then, for online, on-demand or other self-study kinds of training, incorporate video, infographics, polls and quizzing questions.
Monitor for pain points
Training before the pandemic had its pain points. You can only imagine those will be multiplied when you train a hybrid workforce!
You can’t expect all employees to speak up when they run into training troubles. (Of course, the chronic complainer will always have something to say.) So use the tools you have to closely monitor and fix the new, hybrid training pain points.
Remind employees to use the chat feature on your video app – Zoom, Slack, Teams – when they have a glitch. They may not be the only one experiencing it, and that will help the trainer overcome the issue for everyone’s sake.
In person, ask employees to speak up when they struggle. Or pull the trainer aside for guidance when the group breaks up.
And for on-demand training, build feedback loops into your system. It might be incremental pop-up questions about the content and delivery or direct messages via text, email or the application.
Set goals, measure results
As with any training you’ve offered in the past, you’ll want to set goals for performance and knowledge gained. Ask front-line managers what they want their employees to gain from new training. Ask employees what they hope to gain from hybrid training. Work with executives to determine what the company needs to accomplish.
You might set smaller goals in the first rounds of hybrid training so you can work out glitches.
Regardless, measure results in a reasonable timeframe based on the goals each group had going into the training.