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We recently discussed the importance of corporate upskilling to stay competitive in today’s market. Through upskilling, companies give employees an opportunity to broaden their expertise and become an increasingly more valued members of their organization.

But, with endless ways to upskill, it’s imperative that CLOs know how to filter through their options and pick strategies that fit employees’ needs and wants to create a foundation for their success. We’re taking a closer look at some of these various approaches and exploring how Chief Learning Officers and L&D professionals can get practical about upskilling to make employees better at what they do and drive performance.

1. The individualized training approach

Implementing individualized training goes a long way in making employees feel valued because of the time it takes for employers to get to know employees’ strengths and weaknesses. By creating a program that caters to each individual, a personal program gives employees the framework needed to confidently forge ahead as they’re given more responsibility. This, in turn, increases retention rates because employees feel wanted and have little reason to look elsewhere. Personalized learning paths can only be routed by understanding the proficiency and knowledge gaps of each individual.

2. A mentoring community

There are many benefits to a mentorship program, the first of which is establishing a culture that values learning and development. All great leaders were once learners, so pairing developing employees with someone who has been in their shoes reinforces that you care. This one-on-one advising fosters a trusting relationship that provides a safe space for mentees to ask questions and learn from mistakes. To mentor effectively, having an analysis of skill, knowledge and behavior gaps can guide mentors on where to focus their support.

Not only do mentees benefit, but mentors do as well. Assigning mentors a coworker gives employees a greater sense of purpose within the company, which improves job satisfaction and helps organizations discover potential leaders. And, if all goes well, the mentorship program will come full circle. If the mentee feels the program was beneficial, they’ll be more likely to volunteer for the next round of new hires.

3. Real-world scenarios

There’s no use putting employees through simulations that don’t apply to their job responsibilities. Quite simply, generic training content will engage learners less if it is not directly relevant to their role. Instead, training programs should relate to the day-to-day operations of a learner’s job role within the company and equip employees with the confidence and capability to perform to their highest potential.

This can be done by incorporating five critical training elements of the job environment: physical, functional, cognitive, psychological, and physiological. Alone, each element seems meaningless, but combining them creates the perfect program to prepare your employees for success.

4. Rotational training and internal mobility

Like most training approaches, rotational programs have their pros and cons, but they lead to the greatest employee retention. Giving employees the opportunity to test-run different roles within the company demonstrates that you trust their abilities and value their happiness. It’s a proven fact that people do better when they’re doing what they love. Why not give employees an opportunity to discover their passion by encouraging them to explore? By placing them in a role that fits who they are, their happiness — and the company’s overall success — likely will increase. Testing knowledge and proficiency against the competencies needed for each role could indicate where an employee has a natural interest, which can be one input to discover the kind of role they may fit best and be part of your bigger internal mobility strategy.

5. Supplemental online learning

A supplemental online learning program could be the key to creating the leaders you seek. By providing additional resources for employees to use during their free time, you’re demonstrating an added layer of care to employees’ growth paths. Since job-specific skills are taught during work hours, supplemental training can focus on soft skills like work ethic, time management, and communication skills. These all require putting the learner in contextually rich scenarios that are cognitively challenging so they can learn new skills and behaviors.

6.  Peer-based support

Giving employees the chance to connect with those who have built a certain skill set helps set them up for greater success down the road. Much like mentoring programs, using a peer-based network allows employees to learn in a safe environment and ask questions of people, or even of the learning program manager or their line manager, who are empathetic to the learning process. Peer-based learning can easily be supported by technology while in the process of learning and fresh in the mind.  For example, peer group benchmarking during knowledge assessment, the ability to comment and discuss learning content in real-time with peers, and game mechanics that play on our natural competitiveness and team spirit are all factors that support the learning experience and have lasting effect and improve knowledge retention. Ultimately, peer-based learning inspires teamwork and the motivation to improve.

7. Step-by-step training

The perfect employee possesses a myriad of skills, but skills need to be practiced to be learned. Acquiring the street smarts, technical knowledge, and empathy necessary to be a successful leader takes years of upskilling and a commitment to continuous improvement. Whilst well intentioned, many learning programs deliver so much information in short periods that it can be unreasonable to expect employees to pick everything up immediately. They are human, and humans have a natural tendency to forget. A more effective and lasting approach is to introduce new skills to employees while continually reinforcing what was previously taught to improve long-term knowledge retention. Once they show proficiency with a particular skill, you can move on to the next one. The key, however, is making sure that employees don’t forget what they initially learned. How can this can be done?

Making it stick with microlearning

One way to ensure employees retain what they learn — regardless of your chosen training method — is to embed microlearning into your L&D strategy. Best-practice microlearning is a method of breaking up complex or detailed job-specific learning content into scenarios and delivering this repetitively over time through a learning experience that fits into the daily flow of work to help learners retain information over the long term. This ensures that your upskilling skills become ingrained in employees’ corporate habits, thereby making them better performers and more likely to have a positive impact on organizational goals.

Interested in microlearning? Qstream is the only microlearning platform scientifically proven to increase knowledge, develop skills, and change behaviors, and it could be the perfect solution to help your company train its most ideal employees.

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