3 Best Practices for Enhancing Corporate Training Programs

Training programs must be evaluated regularly and adapt to industry trends and participants’ changing behaviors (and preferences) in order to truly be effective.

Corporate training programs are a core—and critical—part of an enterprise’s business. This professional development empowers employees and partners to regularly improve performance and sharpen their skills, while also helping the organization to maintain a competitive edge. It’s no surprise, then, that the industry continues to flourish, with Technavio expecting the corporate training market in the U.S. to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 8 percent from 2015 to 2019.

Yet these programs must not become stale or they risk being ineffective. They must be evaluated regularly and adapt to industry trends and participants’ changing behaviors (and preferences) in order to truly be effective. In recent years, we have seen many trends emerge, from the rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to flipped classrooms. We’ve also seen behaviors change drastically, particularly with the rise of the mobile device, which has enabled the workforce to be productive outside of the office and on their own time.

As new approaches and perspectives come on the scene, the challenge for enterprises with long-established programs is to determine what new strategies will work best for them and where investments—of both time and money—should be focused. Since cutting through the corporate training noise can be time-consuming and almost overwhelming, here are three best practices all enterprises should keep in mind when it comes to enhancing their corporate training programs:

1. Embrace Blended Learning
While blended learning, or the combination of instructor-led with technology-based training, has been around for decades, we’ve seen tremendous traction over the last few years for good reason. The combination of online and classroom-based training provides students with more flexibility to learn on their own schedule and at their own pace. In addition to added convenience, it’s more cost effective for organizations and better ensures the usage of the most up-to-date content. Plus, the way we work has evolved significantly over the last two decades with the adoption of mobile, cloud computing, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, among other technology innovations. Maintaining the same classroom-only training could alienate today’s workforce, which expects flexibility and mobility. Corporate training programs that adapt to behaviors and preferences will, in turn, lead to more engaged participants and greater retention.

2. Recognize the Millennials’ Impact
Millennials make up approximately one-fourth of the U.S. population, roughly 77 million people (Nielsen), so it’s no surprise that they will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 (Deloitte Millennial (Generation Y) Survey). The implications of this are vast for corporate training programs. For instance, more than 85 percent of Millennials in the U.S. own a smartphone (Nielsen) and interact with them around 45 times a day (SDL). This mobile-dependent generation is used to consuming information on the smallest of screens on their own schedule. They use search engines to instantly find answers to any questions they may have. The combination of these and other factors has led to the transformation of modern learning, switching from marathon classroom sessions to shorter classes with video and online accompaniments, for example. Recognizing the change in the way people are consuming information, particularly Millennials who soon will dominate the workforce, and making adjustments to the corporate learning program is critical. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all industries are the same and some are more technically savvy than others. In order to create a successful program, it is important to take the industry into consideration before deciding to incorporate a new technology into the training plan. Mixing up the format of training sessions, including breakout sessions or videos, also can help keep participants engaged and connected.
3. Extend Reach through Partnerships
Partnering with industry organizations and educational institutions provides a mutually beneficial opportunity, enabling corporations to enhance their existing corporate training programs, extend the reach of its content, and reinforce its expertise across the industry and beyond.

Industry organizations committed to furthering a particular profession can use a company’s valuable training content to help with professional development. Along with simply sharing content, companies also can hold joint training sessions or events, taking advantage of complementary courseware. In addition, this type of relationship opens the door for mentoring opportunities.

Partnering with an educational institution allows future professionals to deepen their industry knowledge and better prepare them for the workforce. It also enhances the curricula at the institutions, which are always competing for the best and brightest minds.

Continuous Learning
No matter how strong a corporate training program is, there’s always room for improvement. By staying on top of industry and workforce trends, companies can identify areas where they can strengthen their programs. But training is only relevant if it can be actively applied outside the learning environment. The best training comes from hands-on experience, and provides actionable insights so attendees can apply what they have learned in real life. Additionally, utilizing technologies, such as training reinforcement mobile app Mindmarker, is a great way to keep the key training takeaways top of mind. Making small tweaks to a training program can extend the reach of the corporation’s expertise and ensure participants are armed with the knowledge they need to succeed.

Andrew Barker is the senior project manager of Educational Services at Axis Communications for the company’s Axis Academy, a program dedicated to the training and education of its technicians. In his role, he is the liaison between the core educational team and the regional trainers, as well as the lead on content project planning with regards to recertification and continuing education. Barker is an expert on network video technology and is well versed in the world of technical support. Axis Communications is a global market leader in network video.

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