If you don’t spend the resources necessary to develop your employees, your business will suffer and possibly even fail.
That’s admittedly a little overly-doom and gloom, but employee development strategy is both incredibly important and astoundingly ignored. Many companies start by using a LMS software (Learning Management System), but you need to do more than find a good platform. We’ve collected some proven employee development strategies.
Taking the initiative to develop your employees helps retain them. The employees with the strongest drive to succeed are the ones you want to keep around. They want to constantly learn and develop, and if you can’t offer that, they’ll search elsewhere for the opportunity.
To reiterate: employee development strategy is pretty important.
1. Conduct a Skill Gap Analysis
According to Lorri Freifield in Training Mag, “solving a skill gap is like solving a puzzle — not only do you have to make the pieces fit, you have to make sure you have all the necessary pieces from the get-go.”
What Is a Skill Gap Analysis?
A skill gap exists when the talents of your workforce do not match their job requirements — this can be costly.
Companies can use skill gap analysis to catalog the skills and competencies of their current workforce, compare that with the needs of the company and then create an employee development strategic plan. This can be extended to future planning as well.
Why Is Skill Gap Analysis Important?
Skill gap analysis is important because you need to ensure your workforce has the skills to succeed as job roles change over time.
Skill gap analysis helps organizations and their employees continue to grow and learn in today’s fast-paced world. Organizations that choose not to engage in professional development are often left in the dust by more innovative competitors. But skill gap analysis doesn’t have to be difficult, costly or time-consuming. We’ll go through a step-by-step process to gather information and make the most of your findings.
How to Perform a Skill Gap Analysis
Describe Roles in Your Organization
First, take a look at the members of your organization: What teams and departments exist? What different kinds of roles exist?
Describe Skills and Priorities
What skills are a priority for your organization going forward? Do you plan to take on new responsibilities or projects in the near future? This is also a good time to consider your company’s missions, goals and values.
Come up with a list of the most important skills your team needs, and how important those skills are. Your list might look something like this:
- Database management
- Customer support
- Web development
- Digital marketing
Perform an Assessment
There are a couple of different ways you can go about performing a skill gap assessment, including feedback from reviews, surveys and interviews. The method you choose will depend on your company’s size, resources and goals.
Compile and Analyze Results
Once you have data from your assessments, interviews or feedback, what do you do with it?
First, you want to get it into a form that is easily manageable and ready to analyze. Using the list of skills we created earlier, you can compare the reported skill levels for each position with your requirements. Any discrepancies are your new skill gaps.
Addressing Skill Gaps
If there are large gaps and one or a few people can fulfill the need, consider hiring externally. Of course, you will still need to develop your organization’s talents over time. The feasibility of a new hire will depend on your staffing constraints and budget.
If you can’t hire new employees, it’s time to make the best of the ones you have. Over time, your team will continue to develop new talents to meet the needs of a changing workplace. Here are a few employee training options you can consider:
- Online courses/eLearning
- Individual training
- Private training company
- Mentorship programs
- Offering a stipend to employees to attend conferences, take courses, etc.
When you address skill gaps in your organization quickly and carefully, both your team and your bottom line will thank you.
2. Use the Right Corporate Training Tools
From onboarding to continual development, many modern systems can help create better business models and informed employees.
The following are some of the common elements that businesses use to create vibrant training models for workers on all levels of staff.
Learning Management Systems
As we’ll discuss more below, one of the biggest and most fundamental tools for corporate training is a learning management system. These comprehensive platforms produce a wide range of training on workplace safety, individual business processes and much more.
While providing a fully functional interface for workers to self-train, the best learning management systems also offer in-depth data on training sessions. By aggregating information about results, learning management systems can evaluate the success of training.
The U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides companies with various learning tools. Specific certifications and training promote safety in many different industries. Those involved in heavy manual labor can get specific safety information tailored to their roles. OSHA resources are commonly used for trade workers in areas like electrical, plumbing and construction.
Another great resource for corporate digital training is massive open online courses (MOOCs). Many of these courses include video-based components that provide a hands-on training strategy for employees. MOOCs are becoming part of the U.S. educational system, but they can also be vital in an enterprise training context. Companies can find these resources on open platforms and integrate them into their eLearning processes.
Workforce Management Systems
Another type of enterprise software that can be helpful with training is workforce management software. Workforce management software provides resources for evaluating the activities of workers. It can integrate training functionality along with payroll, tax, scheduling and performance features. Workforce management systems can be particularly effective in evaluating the performance and learning of an employee over time. For example, aspects of workforce management software may document continuing education and professional development.
360-Degree Feedback Tools
360-degree feedback is a software tool in which employees can self-evaluate, and are also evaluated by others. The versatility of 360-degree feedback means that these evaluations may be done by supervisors but also by peers or people outside the company.
By looking in depth at actionable feedback on employee performance, company leaders can chart a course forward for the business, focusing on the important areas in which improvement is needed.
Digital Employee Assessments
Assessment tools are also critically relevant to ongoing training. To put it simply, companies want to see results. Businesses want to make sure training strategies work and employees have broadened their knowledge as a result. Assessment tools will show how processes are working over time, and whether the business needs to put key changes in place to drive a better-educated workforce.
3. Build a Learning Management Program
A learning management system is often the biggest step many businesses take as they develop their staff development strategies. However, many companies are unhappy with their LMS due to outdated interfaces, lack of customization or incomplete reporting. Doing thorough research and identifying your team’s main objectives before installing an LMS can save your company time and money.
Learning management programs help businesses and educational institutions track, administer and report on educational courses or training programs. These programs are often used when onboarding new employees, but they can also be used in more general people development strategy, such as external customer-facing training sessions.
Choosing the right software for your company is no easy task, and there’s a lot of research to sift through before making a decision. We’ve provided some of the most important considerations for you and your key stakeholders when evaluating an LMS solution:
Determine Use Cases
The first thing to consider when looking for a learning management program is the use cases and the staff development strategy you hope to provide. To do so, ask yourself these questions and share them with stakeholders:
- Who is our audience for the curriculum?
- Will we have one curriculum or multiple courses on different topics?
- Will the courses be instructor-led, video-based or text-based?
- What will the delivery method for the courseware look like? Will employees engage with training software online?
- What platforms will the content be hosted on?
- Do we need an LMS, or just an LCMS (Learning Content Management System)?
Select Important Features
Learning management programs can have a wide variety of features ranging from critical to “nice-to-have.” You should speak with your key stakeholders and figure out which features are most important. Once you have your list of features, you can refer to it when demoing different vendors.
Demo Your Options
You wouldn’t buy a car before test driving it, would you? The same principle applies to building a learning management program.
During a demo period, be sure to have your list of prioritized features at hand and ask questions like:
- What level of support and maintenance is available?
- What is the pricing model?
- Does the vendor have similar customers?
- Does the vendor have compelling reviews from similar customers?
- Will the system be user-friendly for both the administrators and learners?
Remember that a significant software purchase like an LMS affects people across the company. You’ll want to get feedback from IT, administrators and learners (your employees or students). Since these are three completely different audiences with different goals, be prepared to answer different types of questions for each group.
IT professionals are most often interested in the technical requirements for integration and the support required to maintain the system. You can ask these questions to evaluate the technical feasibility of the learning management program:
- How does this program integrate with our existing processes?
- What are the technical requirements for support and maintenance?
- What customization is needed?
- Will the LMS be cloud-based or on-premise? What are the pros and cons of each strategy for our business?
Administrators want a system that is easy to maintain and has robust reporting capabilities for measuring progress. When speaking to administrators, ask them these questions to get a feel for how the LMS will suit their needs:
- How easy is it to add a new course?
- How do I see which students have completed each course?
- Which formats are supported?
- What kind of data can I access about my learners, and how do I access it?
For your learners, you’ll want to focus on user-friendliness and experience. If possible, include some of your target users in the demo and get their feedback.
Many companies end up cycling through multiple learning management programs before finding the one that suits them best, so doing your research and getting buy-in upfront can save a lot of money.
Ask these questions to evaluate the user-friendliness of the product:
- What is the level of technical skill needed to use the product?
- How can I find out about new courses or information?
- How do I search for information, and how long does it take to find what I’m looking for?
- How do I see my courses and track what I’ve completed?
Implement Your Solution
Once you’ve settled on a solution, work with IT and management to ensure it rolls out smoothly. The right LMS can help you track employee engagement, learning progress and other metrics, and ensure the success of your learning management program for years to come.
It is difficult to underestimate the importance of employee development. Ultimately, creating a strategy focused on continued education and career progress will build up a driven, dedicated workforce in your business.
What employee development strategies does your business use? Tell us in the comments!