Accessibility & performance -- & morale: How fusing IT initiatives with workplace training can improve transformation success, increase employee retention and enhance business outcomes

A perfect storm of social and technological circumstances has forever changed the way we do business. Lockdowns and evolving guidelines throughout the pandemic forced most organizations to quickly adopt hybrid and remote working business models. And advancements in communications and other innovative technologies have not only ensured the success of such a transition, but have made hybrid working models the preferred choice for many organizations moving forward.

Digital transformation spending is estimated to exceed $1 trillion by 2025, according to Finances Online, making it clear that businesses will continue to look to cutting-edge tools, like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, to fuel performance and drive outcomes. However, a July 2022 Emergn survey, titled The Pursuit of Effective Workplace Training, of over 1,200 business leaders and learners found that the paradigm around IT initiatives has shifted over the few years. Sixty-four percent of respondents said that their organizations’ IT initiatives have focused primarily on providing better support for remote work, followed by implementing technology to increase the speed and productivity of teams (63 percent) and migrating applications to the cloud (37 percent).

With two of the top three IT initiatives revolving around implementing software that supports hybrid work and business flexibility, it appears that business leaders are beginning to prioritize accessibility as much as, if not more, than performance within IT initiatives. But why?

Creating Accessibility to Increase Employee Retention

With the pandemic came the Great Resignation, where droves of professionals left their positions in search of more accommodating and fulfilling jobs. Suddenly, a more flexible work/life balance became just as important to employees as wages. A Harvard Business Review study found that 59 percent of workers view flexibility as more important to them than salary. Thus, IT initiatives that support remote and hybrid working models have become popular along all business verticals.

Further, employee sentiment towards technology and operational innovation aligns with businesses. Employees view AI and automation as vital pieces to improved performance and view learning and working with such tools as a chance to grow their skillset and build fulfillment within their job. The desire for employees to learn new skills must be realized and capitalized upon by their employers. While digital transformation has become a necessity, its success is anything but guaranteed. This is because any innovative tool or automated software introduced to operations is only as powerful and effective as the people who run them.

Leveraging Workplace Training to Get the Most out of Both Your Employees & Technology

In order to generate lasting performance that matters, businesses must create environments that foster high-performing teams. This is achievable, in part, through workplace training that aligns with employee needs, transformation efforts and overall business goals.

Aside from being a valuable retention tool -- with 75 percent of learners feeling that strong workplace training would have a very high or high impact on their decision to stay with an employer -- effective workplace training is a soundway to ensure employees are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to run new technology successfully. Now, what exactly is the difference between current workplace training models and effective workplace training?

Unlike current learning and development (L&D) models that offer day-long training sessions with standardized curriculums, effective workplace training is prioritized and baked into employees’ work schedules. They provide training on relevant and real-world skills that employees can apply immediately to their roles. Customized, role-specific work-based training helps organizations ensure that employees are learning and gaining the knowledge they need to both increase performance and optimize the use of new technology. Effective training plans that align the skills required by employees with transformation efforts will significantly increase the success of digital transformation efforts while better supporting organizational growth. 

The Emergn study uncovered that unfortunately only 14 percent of leaders felt current workplace training programs align with their organization’s transformation plans, which could explain why over two-thirds of transformation efforts fall short. With 52 percent of software industry professionals agreeing that workplace training focused on understanding new ways of working would improve outcomes delivered in their role, it is apparent that a restructuring of L&D programs would drive operational performance and business success. 

By fusing IT initiatives with effective workplace training, organizations will not only increase the morale, confidence and buy-in of their employees throughout transformation efforts but also ensure that new technology and new ways of working are being effectively utilized. As more and more businesses begin transformation planning, it is critical to consider the needs of the employees as much, if not more, than the tools being implemented, as a business’s performance will hinge on the ability of its employees to perform within its digital environment.  

Image credit: airdone/ Shutterstock

Steven Angelo-Eadie is Head of Learning Services at Emergn.

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