How long have your employees been at your company? Do they possess the skills needed to lead you into the future and assist with your company transformation? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you should hire new employees. In fact, I’m a full supporter of upskilling your employees through retraining programs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it makes the most sense to teach your current employee base the new skills that are required instead of spending the and money to hire new ones. In fact, sixty-two percent of executives believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2030 due to automation and digitization.
With this in mind, forward-thinking businesses like Cognizant and AT&T are focusing on upskilling now with amazing results. But it’s not all smooth sailing. Upskilling programs can’t be one size fits all. Each employee has a different learning style, a different schedule and potentially a large amount of information to learn—sounds like a recipe for inefficiency and disaster. And at the end of the day, why would you want to waste precious time on an inefficient program? This is where emerging technology such as AI and machine learning can help you digitize and improve your retraining programs. Let’s take a look at how to capitalize on these technologies.
The Best Retraining Programs Engage and Teach
It has been shown that the best training programs for employees are programs that combine engaging elements with specialized training modules. These modules should have online options as well as in-person instruction that focuses on completing skilled tasks. This training should also include digital and physical simulations for real-world, hands-on education.
I’ve been to numerous in-person development sessions in my career, but they’re such a waste of time now. Why should your employees have to fly somewhere, only to sit in a hotel ballroom for three days being bombarded with information? Digitizing the process and using technology like AR and VR can achieve the same results with lower cost to the company and likely more success for the employee. Where do I sign up for one of these development retraining programs?
Personalized Learning for All
On top of engaging learning programs, wouldn’t it be nice if each program was specifically tailored for each employee? I’m sure that got a big eye roll from some of you thinking about the feasibility of a program like that, but with technology it IS possible.
All you need to do is integrate machine learning into your training program. Part of machine learning’s capabilities happen in the back-end where voice recognition and patterns live. As employees are going through the training program, it recognizes who is using the program and adapts to their specific needs. Employees can experience personalized learning that continues to adapt to their specific learning styles. They can also get real-time feedback based on their performance.
Personalized learning gives each employee a tailored learning program, built to fit their specific needs, shortcomings and goals. Not every employee will excel in the same area, or struggle in the same area. This personalized learning fills those gaps on an individual level, boosting confidence and morale. No more boring modules that are a pain to implement.
Pattern Building for Retention
Learning is only the first step. After all, have you truly learned anything if you have no ability to recall that information and put it into practice? This is where training reinforcement through pattern building is essential. Most companies struggle with this, seldom reinforcing the information given to a new employee after the initial training. And unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen all too often.
Employees must practice these skills they have learned in order to retain them and use them, when they are needed. Intelligent applications and AI can improve retention by helping employees to produce patterns throughout their daily work. Once a pattern is established, new techniques can be implemented without confusion and strain. It is all about retraining without huge effort on your end, a new possibility thanks to AI.
Measure ROI Through Learning Success
Want to know who is killing their retraining programs? Want to be able to identify who needs a little extra help and encouragement? Look no further than AI-driven big data. Using a program to scan the data produced from your training program, you can easily determine the ROI for each employee.
I would love to see organizations use these tools to pinpoint which employees are struggling in a certain area, so that they are able to match other employees who are rock stars in that area to help out. Use technology to create an in-house, mentor system. Think of the success you’d have if this was done correctly. Not just from a retraining program standpoint, but culturally as well.
In addition to ROI on an employee, having the ability to see patterns, faults and strengths gives you insight into the effectiveness of your training program, overall. Where do you need to make changes? Which part of the program are you seeing the most benefit? This will help you tailor your program to meet the unique needs of your business while remaining productive, efficient and cost-effective.
Planning for the Future
Whether we are on board or not, the future is coming at our organizations at record speed. AI is becoming the norm, digital transformation is taking hold and we must do everything in our power to keep up. Our employees are the future of our business and must be skilled in these areas of technology to keep us competitive. By starting now, you are ensuring your employees are receiving the education through retraining programs they require to be successful for themselves and for you.
The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.