How to Use Employee Development as a Competitive Advantage
Last Updated on March 9, 2022 by Owen McGab Enaohwo
The need for employee development has never been more relevant. As the world’s workforce changes rapidly, so do its expectations for its prospective employers. For example, millennials are expected to become the largest section of the workforce by 2025 followed by Gen Z.
The monochromatic, dull cubicle-filled offices with uninspired, clock-punching work culture of the yesteryears are giving way to vibrant, dynamic workplaces with flat hierarchies, themed environments and fast-paced changes. Companies that adapt to this new reality can not only expect to attract and retain the best talent, but capitalize on its capabilities and innovate rapidly.
Perhaps the biggest change in perspective is the redefining of what work means. No longer do workers crave for the biggest paycheck. The modern workforce is more drawn to organizations with a sense of purpose and those that are willing to help them grow. A survey by Gallup Polls even shows that 87 percent of millennials prefer an employer that offers better professional development and growth opportunities.
Simply put, companies can no longer treat employee development with a maybe-we’ll-look-into-it attitude. Nor will the occasional skill brush-up and training courses suffice. Employee development today means taking a genuine interest in the employee’s life, skills and future so that they may thrive both professionally and personally. Here’s how to go about it.
What is Employee Development and Where Did It Come From?
Employee development refers to a variety of strategies through which employers help their employees become more productive and skillful. Even though professional development, team training, career development are used as synonyms for employee development, they are, in fact, different facets of the latter.
The current definition of employee development centers around the fast-changing work culture that dominates the modern business world. No one skill is a silver bullet that can help the employee or the employer.
Workers need to know the latest skills, but they also need soft skills such as interpersonal communication, and cross-disciplinary know-how that can help them come up with better ideas and open new doors.
The history of employee development is an interesting one. Some of the earliest recorded instances of employee development date back a millennium. Through 400–1400 AD, apprenticeships were commonplace and were rooted in the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian code of Hammurabi of the 18th century which required artisans to teach their craft to the next generation.
The guild system in Medieval Europe, which were associations of craftsmen and merchants, followed a similar pattern where fathers passed down their skills to their children who carried on their work as family businesses.
During the 18th century, as the Industrial Revolution took hold, employee training began to take a more concrete shape in the form of vestibule training. Workers needed explicit and implicit skills to be able to run the machinery which needed intensive training from their mentors. Consequently, vestibule training, which means on-the-job training, became common practice.
By the early 20th century, psychologists began to take an interest in employee training and an article was even published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1918 on the same.
While most early attempts tried to emulate military methods around the 1960s through 1970s, the use of computers, case studies, role playing and television began to help organizations create standard operating procedures for employee development and training.
Individual companies also created cultures that were widely emulated by their peers. For example, the Toyota Production System placed great emphasis on employee development from both a production and an efficiency perspective. Likewise, Ford Motor created a sociological department through the 1920s that specializes in human behavior and employee development.
As the internet became commonplace through the late 90s to early 2000s, learning management systems began to deliver courses digitally making skill updating easier and more accessible.
Today, since the net is ubiquitous in our lives and work has gone remote, so too has employee development practices. Virtual seminars, classrooms, and corporate universities have become common methods to help employees develop professionally and personally.
The Business Case for Employee Development
Even though helping employees develop their talents and skills seems like the right thing to do, an employer is going to be spending significant resources doing it. It stands to reason that companies will want to get the best return on their investment. In fact, there is a strong business case for helping your employees, especially in the long term.
First, let’s understand what employee development is not:
- It’s not all about job-specific training.
- It isn’t restricted to organizational learning and development strategies.
- Regular team meetings won’t suffice.
- Simply pointing out mistakes does not equal career development.
Let’s consider how a business might benefit from implementing sound employee learning and development strategies. As we noted above, the modern worker is more inclined to leave a company if they don’t find satisfaction in what they’re doing. Similarly, if they feel their company isn’t doing enough to help them grow as a person, they might very much leave the organization.
In this case:
- The company stands to lose all the capital it invested in the employee.
- Since the employee will most likely remain in the same industry, the company’s competitors will benefit from their training.
- The company will have to invest in hiring another employee, and arming them with the same skills and know-how as the worker they lost.
Basically, by only demanding and not giving anything back, a company stands to lose a lot more than it realizes. By taking a genuine interest in its employees, a company can avoid all the aforementioned scenarios. LinkedIn’s recent 2021 Workplace Learning Report offers fascinating insights into how learning and development is helping both the employer and employee.
First, internally mobile employees are twice as likely to stay with a company than those who aren’t. Since cross-training is a big part of modern employee development best practices, companies that offer their workers more opportunities are therefore twice as likely to retain them than those that don’t.
Greater internal mobility doesn’t just foster confidence and increase employee retention either. Allowing employees to take on new roles can also bring down recruiting costs and make greater use of talent prevalent throughout your organization.
Another persisting problem that employee engagement solves is engagement. Glint, which provides employee engagement, learning and development services, in their recent report found that managers who feel they have room for growth and improvement are 3.4 times more likely to be engaged, and 3.2 times more likely to remain with the company for the next two years.
Besides direct research into organizational learning, inputs from other sources support the case for continued investment in employee development as well. It has been well documented that sales coaching has a measurable impact on sales win rates. The Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study from CSO insights continues to support this trend.
Dynamic sales coaching showed an overall 21% increase in quota attainment and 19% increase in win rate over the study’s average.
Navigating the Modern Talent Landscape
Report after report is also making it abundantly clear that employee learning and development strategies are becoming a must-have as demographic trends continue to evolve. LinkedIn’s report also found that learning and development moved from a “nice to have” to “must-have” in 2020.
Two key factors are driving this change. First, the 2020–21 COVID pandemic greatly accelerated adoption of remote work and learning.
Faced with the social distancing imperative, workers across all age groups were forced to reskill themselves, particularly how to work away from their offices and workspaces. Both the millennial and Gen Z age groups also demand more learning opportunities from their employers.
Not only is learning new skills helping the new workforce perform better, but it’s also clearly aiding their decision in finding new employment opportunities. So, what can employers do to survive in this new reality that has been thrust upon them?
Second, upskilling and reskilling are no longer optional. Companies have to ensure their employee development initiatives can survive in a remote and/or hybrid work environment.
Since employee development directly correlates to both the environment an employee currently has to work in and what they will be confronted with in the future, your learning and development program will need to change.
Blended learning and development programs are the way to go. Instructor-led training (ILT) has been the norm so far, but online training is quickly replacing it via teleconferencing, created and curated content, and one-on-one sessions.
While this trend is still new, it’s best to start early to iron out the kinks so that you’re ready when it goes mainstream. Since the impact of employee development is so hard to measure, it will also make sense to test and decide which metrics you’d like to track with your new hybrid approach. We’ll delve deeper into this below.
Even though your current and future employee development methods are bound to change, let’s take a look into existing strategies you can pick and choose from.
6 Prominent Types of Employee Development Methods
Every company and industry has unique challenges and characteristics. Consequently, a variety of employee development methods have emerged and become standard practices throughout the world. The following are six of the most well-recognized employee development methods.
Mentoring and Coaching
Easily the most time-tested and effective methods, both coaching and mentoring can help employees gain working understanding and develop better relationships. Coaching and mentoring are also widely used as synonyms even though they are different but related strategies.
Coaching is more performance-oriented and is defined by the International Coaching Federation as “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
While coaches do take a profound interest in their students’ success, they can remain engaged yet detached from them. They are entirely goal-driven and are held accountable for achieving or not achieving them. A coach remains as a neutral third party observing the learner’s actions and correcting them where necessary.
Coaches are heavily used in sports, professional roles, and leadership. Sports coaches are easily the most well-known examples. They guide entire teams to winning tournaments by observing their performance, guiding and modifying team structure and strategy to fine-tune performance.
Mentors on the other hand serve as advisors and their role is deeply personal. A mentor is often seen like a parent figure by the learner rather than an instructor. Unlike coaches, a mentor takes a personal interest in their learners’ lives and helps them improve across the board while achieving specific goals.
Even though mentor-learner relationships are often organic and happen by choice, companies can create specific mentoring programs where experienced leaders can take promising candidates under their wing.
Workshops are specifically designed to give learners a more hands-on experience in a particular task or discuss ideas that may reveal new insights. While workshops can be conducted on virtually any topic, there are some specific personal development ideas that you can look into.
DISC Workshops: DISC stands for dominant, inspiring, sSupportive, cautious. The idea was coined by Harvard psychologist Dr. William Marston in the 1920s. It posits that each person develops a self-image based on one of these four factors.
DISC workshops attempt to help people identify their dominant personality traits so that they can better optimize their work and communication styles. Furthermore, the workshop can also help each member understand their peer’s traits so that they can collaborate effectively with them.
Conflict Resolution Workshops: Conflicts are pretty much inevitable in a workspace. Doubly so in a virtual one where people may misinterpret words or gestures. A modern conflict resolution workshop will focus on a type of conflict and train the attendees on how to resolve them.
Time Management Workshops: Probably the most important workshop you can conduct if your organization works remotely. Given that your employees are connected to the internet perpetually, they may be distracted by it. Workshops on how to use time-blocks, digital tools, pre- and post-task rituals can help your workers take back control of their daily hours.
Stretch assignments help employees expand their skills either within their domain or in related areas. Managers may even use stretch techniques to work on an employee’s weaknesses by giving them specific tasks that challenge them in unique ways.
Stretch assignments are all about pushing people out of their comfort zones. So, if an employee seems to be bad at managing team members, (s)he can be assigned an intern as a mentee.
A manager who has excelled in managing smaller internal projects can be awarded a larger client contract. The same manager may even be given a failing or stagnant department/team to turn around.
Career Planning Assistance
Career planning is at the very heart of employee development since it centers on their desire to move forward professionally. Some managers are suspicious of career-oriented employees, feeling they might leave the company. However, such feelings are usually unfounded.
Firstly, employees can and will in fact want to move forward within their current organization first. Doing so helps them avoid the trouble of finding a new job while getting better value and satisfaction. It’s only when employees are denied such opportunities do they start to look for new jobs.
Career planning assistance can help employers discover new ways in which they can leverage their employee’s strengths and skills. A good career plan will start with a job description. Managers can treat each job posting as the start of a funnel, the objective of which is to help an employee reach their true potential and role eventually.
As an employee takes up a position, his/her strengths and weaknesses will slowly reveal themselves. Managers can optimize the employee’s career plan through regular performance reviews and help them move toward skills and tasks that they find most fulfilling.
Already a common practice, job rotation helps employees understand different verticals in the organization. Job rotation can either help them find roles they are better suited for, or get a bird’s eye view of how everything works for future management positions.
Job rotation is best used as part of an employee’s career plan and the organization’s succession plan. It’s also important to note that job rotation isn’t the same as a promotion. Employees are moved horizontally within their existing levels and are usually sent back to their original jobs once they’ve acquired the necessary skills.
Besides helping the employee learn new skills and grow professionally, job rotation can also be used to fill up temporary positions and train new recruits as well.
Corporate Universities (CUs) are created or sponsored by companies to help their employees grow and learn. Essentially an educational institution within a company, CUs have been growing in popularity with large, multinational corporations.
CUs can look and function as a traditional university, complete with their own campus, or they may exist as a courseware online. Corporations can also partner with universities to create specific CUs tailored to their needs.
CUs can serve multiple purposes for employee development. Firstly, employees can learn new skills better in a university environment since a workspace can have many distractions.
Secondly, CUs issue their own certifications, diplomas, and degrees and ones that are recognized in an industry. By sponsoring employees through a CU training program, companies can help their employees gain valuable experience and certifications to help them in their careers.
All of these strategies will prove useful at some stage of an employee development program. It’s best to keep a few things in mind before framing your strategy though.
Employee Development Best Practices
Much like any new initiative, a company might indulge in employee development risks falling into the trap of becoming just another buzzword and more hype than real change. There are a few ways you can make sure that learning and development strategies stick and work.
Make it a Part of Your Corporate Culture
A good employee development initiative should be so blended with a company’s working style that they don’t even stick out. Sadly, many managers simply focus on short-term goal attainment and rarely leave their team members enough time to learn. A Bersin survey of 700 enterprises discovered that on an average, an employee only had 24 minutes a week for formal training.
As we stated earlier, a good employee development program should start right with the job description. By finding a good fit, you will fill roles with employees that already believe in your organization’s mission.
Periodic standardized performance reviews should be baked into each team’s schedule. The reviews themselves should be learning oriented rather than goal-oriented only. Productivity metrics such as turnover rate, project completion rate, or time per task can be used to set tangible goals for employees to measure.
Managers should also incentivize continuous learning by either gamifying productive behavior and/or giving generous rewards every time an employee completes a task. The rewards should be something that employees desire rather than a token the organization feels is appropriate.
Allow Employees to Express Themselves Freely
Managers can only help employees if they openly share their ideas. However, the workplace has traditionally been one where candidness and emotional expression were frowned upon.
Most Gen Xers will remember at least one instance where emotional outbursts had to be cooled down with a coffee break. Professionalism was defined as sticking to the facts.
But the modern workforce is one which expects to be heard and considers thinking and emotions as the same. As per the 2021 Deloitte Global Survey, both millennials and Gen Z consider inclusiveness and courage to challenge the status quo as one of the top 10 most important characteristics to look out for.
But just what does it mean to “be yourself” at the workspace? Turns out, many different interpretations abound. A CV-Library survey of over 1,100 employees in the UK found that 26.4 percent of the respondents felt being oneself meant to discuss shortcomings openly. Another 23.9 percent thought it referred to sharing details of their private lives, while 21.4 percent thought it meant treating their colleagues as friends.
Consider running a similar survey in your company to find out in what ways your employees will like to express themselves and what their own personal definition of expression means. You’ll probably be surprised by the results.
Let Your Leadership Adopt Their Own Unique Coaching Styles
Just like each leader has their own preferred management style, so too they will gravitate toward a certain coaching style. But given the change in management roles and expectations, leaders may need to be brought up to speed. This is particularly true because most leadership roles today are filled by Gen Xers who’ve grown up in a very rigid command-and-control culture.
The incredibly dynamic nature of modern business means that managers and leaders simply cannot have all the right answers every single time. To survive in such a fluid environment, leaders need to become coaches and mentors rather than just managers.
But coaching comes in different forms as well. Coaching, for instance, can be:
Autocratic: A very top-down approach, modern managers are most familiar with this style of management since it is what they were born into. The autocratic style centralizes command and control into singular management positions with little leeway for questioning and creative deviation.
Democratic: Even though democracy is an old idea, it hasn’t been used as a management tool in corporate work cultures until now. A democratic leader will decentralize decision-making, letting all stakeholders voice their opinions with the most voted idea being executed. The manager may have the ultimate veto authority, though.
Laissez-faire: This type of leadership takes a more hands-off approach to decision-making. Teams are allowed to govern themselves with minimal supervision. Managers keep a watchful eye over a project through completion and are present during delivery but do not micromanage in the employee’s day-to-day activities.
Modern millennial and Gen Zers respond best to democratic and laissez-faire styles of coaching. Even so, most managers will end up with a combination of different styles best suited to situations that are most likely to come up in their domain. You can use the DISC test to determine your manager’s personality traits to help them create a personalized coaching style.
Offer Personalized Development Plans for Each Employee
Much like personalized marketing is more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach, so too is employee development. In fact, so similar are the two approaches that you can use similar content marketing strategies to help your employees learn and grow.
Marketers use a content engagement lifecycle to place content along a buyer’s journey strategically. This helps buyers get the most relevant and personalized content served to them when they most need it.
L&D managers can greatly benefit employees by applying a similar approach to their career development strategy. This is particularly true since modern workers feel disengaged with their job.
Consider having your L&D and marketing team work together to create a content strategy for your employee development initiatives. But just how should you go about using your marketing know-how to create tailored employee development experiences? Let’s take a closer look.
Creating Your First Employee Development Plan
Content marketing is all about educating and helping buyers make better, more informed decisions through engaging, educational content. Learning and development has the same goal which is why established theories and strategies can be readily applied to learning and development initiatives as well.
The 5 Ws, which asks the questions of who, why, what, when and where, is a great framework for creating your employee development plan. Let’s take a look at each step.
Defining Your “Who”
Even though you’d like to focus on each individual, you can’t create a plan for every employee from scratch. The best option here is to club employees into groups based on certain characteristics.
Marketers are accustomed to building buyer personas to understand who they are talking to, and you can build a similar persona for your employees as well.
A “learner persona” basically attempts to create a singular picture of your ideal learner, listing out their goals, strengths, weaknesses, motivators, online channels they like to use, types of content they like to consume, groups they belong to and more. Here’s an example:
You can create personas based on age (such as Gen X, millennials, or Gen Z), job (marketing, finance, HR), or hierarchy (manager, team leader, team member). Different personas can be created to target different population types. So for example, the persona Dan can represent millennials working in customer service departments.
Know Your Employee’s “Why”
So, now we have an idea of whom we are speaking to. But why should your learner be listening to you? What’s in it for them? Each employee has their own reason for being invested in a company. As this will form the foundation of your communication strategy, it’s really important to get this part right.
Let’s circle back to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report. Employees are prioritizing upskilling, reskilling and internal mobility within their organization. This piece of information will serve as a good starting point for your intelligence gathering.
The insights are macroscopic and refer to changes due to environmental constraints that the current workforce is going through (mostly driven by the 2020–21 pandemic). Even so, your team members may be harboring similar sentiments. It will be best to use a survey to understand what they are trying to accomplish by joining your company.
Understanding “What” Content to Create
So, we have established who your target audience is, and why they’re in a professional relationship with you. Now it’s time to create a content strategy to help your learners along their career path.
A consistent problem with all content initiatives is that they often ignore to factor buy-ins from the audience. The need to consume a particular content should be evident to the learner when they are at the stage in their learner’s journey for which the content was created.
Provide your learners with multiple content options. Use your buyer personas to identify which content and content formats they are already consuming. Then frame your own content pieces closely mimicking those that they like to follow.
Knowing “When” to Serve Content
The content strategy should follow the learner’s journey, which starts the moment an employee takes up a job with your company and ends when they leave.
Each stage of the learning process should have content tailored to it. For example, stage one content can help learners’ gauge their strengths and weaknesses. Stage two content can provide them with various options to help them overcome the issues, and so on.
The content can either be served proactively, i.e., the student is made aware of potential issues they are likely to encounter and introduced to solutions before they encounter them. Or the solutions can be sought reactively by the students themselves once they discover opportunities to improve.
Managers can identify certain “triggers” that motivate employees to seek out solutions. For example, a new employee needing orientation, a new technology being introduced, policies not being followed, poor sales performance, or customer complaints are all valid triggers that can help managers decide when to help who.
Finally, Decide “Where” to Serve the Content
Figuring out content distribution can be tricky, mostly because everyone has their own personal preferences. While some of your workers might be avid email readers, others might prefer blog articles, while their friends may like social media better.
Your learner persona may offer interesting insights into each learner group’s content consumption patterns. All the strategies covered in 6 types of employee development methods can prove useful as well.
Ideally, you will want to include a mix of different channels for distributing content. Email, social media, teleconferencing, chat groups, team meetings, and one-on-one interviews all should be included in your distribution plan.
Specific triggers and information from your learner persona can be used to determine when to use a particular channel. For example, if Dan likes to explore new concepts through videos, you can create an internal repository of instructional video on customer care.
Tools such as SweetProcess can prove invaluable in helping you distribute process checklists and information to your team members on-demand virtually anywhere.
The Many Challenges of Employee Development
Learning and development isn’t an exact science. Since it deals with people, there are many things just waiting to go wrong. What’s particularly alarming is that most managers don’t feel their L&D initiatives are actually doing what they are supposed to.
Signaling Instead of Learning
Incentivizing learning can do wonders. But it’s also a double-edged sword. Your employees understand that the more courses they complete, the more likely they are to be recognized and promoted. All too often, people only pretend to learn to either show off or let their bosses think they care.
Simply awarding credits, badges or updating an employee record may not suffice to encourage a genuine interest in becoming better at their jobs and developing as a person. Any L&D initiative must be wary of turning the incentives into the end goal.
It’s Hard to Measure
Deciding on the right metrics has always been a challenge in corporate L&D. What should you measure when it comes to employee development? Should it be performance, output, attendance?
Employee development goes far beyond regular ol’ training. As Josh Bersin notes in his article on the measurement problem of employee development, companies often go about implementing metrics the wrong way.
The traditional Kirkpatrick model, which measures job satisfaction, learning, job impact, and business impact, often doesn’t suffice because they are treated as ends in themselves.
Truth is, employee development is a business support function that helps other divisions work efficiently. This is evidenced by the fact that L&D initiatives themselves don’t produce any business results.
As such, companies that align their employee development strategy with their business strategy can expect measurable results. Companies are better off measuring the impact of their training programs on the business initiatives for which they are designed rather than treated as an end in itself.
Employee surveys can be a great starting point for your measurement initiatives. As pointed out in the Glint study, surveys have been used by companies in the UK with great results.
Trouble Allocating Resources and Budget
Closely following the measurement problem is that of deciding how much money an organization should spend on L&D. If the impact of employee development cannot be measured, then it becomes hard to decide how much investment should be made in it.
On average, companies are spending around USD $1,300 per employee per year. But, just how much ROI does such an initiative generate is hard to measure which often leads managers in a bind on whether to reduce or increase their investment.
Although, if current trends are any indication, L&D budgets are beginning to go back to the pre-pandemic levels.
You can use a training needs assessment tool to decide how much money each learning and development initiative requires.
Not Enough Hours in the Day
As the Bersin survey pointed out, most employees only had around 24 minutes a week on learning and development. This is nowhere near enough time to result in significant changes in skills and knowledge.
For the most part, assigning enough hours is a classic time management problem. Since L&D initiatives are either batched into certain times of the year or left to the employee and their coach to pursue at their own pace, the result is inconsistent learning.
Many of these challenges can be overcome by using certain strategies. Google’s 20 percent rule is a great example for employee development. The company gives its employees 20 percent of their time off to pursue their own projects. While the policy is designed to encourage creativity, it can also be used to create an employee development policy.
Specific cloud-based tools have also evolved over the years that help you implement learning and development strategies and overcome the above-mentioned problems.
Tools to Help You Make Employee Development Easier
Many tools have attempted to solve several issues pertaining to employee development. Some of them have become very successful and offer features that can help make any employee development initiative more effective.
Features: Built-in assessment engine, survey engine, blended learning, gamified learning, multiple communication tools
Price: Starts at $59/month for 40 users
Free version: Yes (for five users and limited features)
With over 70,000 teams in 124 countries using TalentLMS, the software is clearly doing something right! What sets TalentLMS apart from the pack is its emphasis on simplicity. The UI immediately makes sense as it offers a clean layout with the main page split in Home and Overview sections, each giving several options to the user.
The software offers three user types: administrator, instructor and learner. The admins can control all the aspects of the instructor and learner contents including permissions, categories, notifications, automation, and overall system settings.
The instructors can only manage the courses that have been assigned to them, and they in turn can assign courses to learners. Instructors can also grade learners.
Learners only have access to the courses they get from their instructors. TalentLMS offers several features to help keep learners motivated. For instance, admins can turn on gamification that assigns several points to learners every time they complete a course or a required step.
Given its low price, excellent features and rave reviews, TalentLMS certainly makes a compelling case to be tried out.
Features: Buying guide to help you choose features, variety of third-party integrations, innovative learner engagement strategies, automated workflows
Price: Starts at $1,249/month for 150 users
Free version: Live demo only
LearnUpon takes most of what TalentLMS offers and builds on it even further. The UI is more polished and updated, so you feel like spending more time in the software. The service even has a LMS buyer’s guide that can help you decide which features will actually prove useful to your organization.
LearnUpon allows you to create several different customized portals which you can edit for content, look, feel and branding. Each portal can be targeted to a specific audience group or subject.
The onboarding process is exceptionally simple as the software has a large knowledge base of videos, articles and how-tos that can help you get the hang of it pretty quickly. The tool allows for video, slide and article-based content to be turned into course material.
LearnUpon has four user types:
- Admins who manage all permissions, create portals and manage all users.
- Managers who oversee groups, portals, enrollments, courses and reports.
- Instructors who are primarily responsible for content creation, progression tracking, answering questions and overseeing reviews.
- Learners who will make up the bulk of the users and those who have to complete the courses they are enrolled in.
While the tools, knowledge base and capabilities offered by LearnUpon are great, what really sets it apart is its stellar customer service. Not only is their response time extremely short, but the staff is very knowledgeable too. Most queries are usually resolved in a few exchanges.
Features: Unique take on learning and development, emphasizes retention through micro-learning, completely mobile based
Price: Starts at $50/month for 50 users
Free version: Yes (up to five users)
Now this one’s refreshingly new! It’s like someone from an L&D background looked at Twitter and thought, “Hey, what if we turned this into a LMS interface?” TalentCards gamifies employee development by serving bite-sized pieces of information in the form of cards.
The result is your employees are never overwhelmed with information, and their learning is constantly reinforced throughout the learning process. Keeping with its KISS motif, even the interface is as minimalistic as can be for all users. The admin gets a very basic report that lets them know how all, or each, learner is doing.
The cards can be customized with images, videos, audio and links. You can also issue multiple-choice tests while the gamify option creates a leaderboard that injects a good dose of healthy competition by letting everyone know who’s doing the best.
While not as exhaustive as other, dedicated LMSs, TalentCards certainly brings something new to the table. The free version allows you to try out most of its features, so do give it a shot. It may just be right up your alley!
Features: Business segment–based solutions, customized learning paths, great support, detailed reporting tools, already has over 2,500 courses
Price: Available upon request
Free version: No
SAP has been a trusted name in the software industry for many decades now and they have a range of cloud-based productivity solutions today that have become a smash hit. Litmos from SAP is one such product.
A complete learning management system in itself, Litmost offers administrators and instructors all the tools they can require to create exhaustive training. The software itself offers over 2,500 courses and learning modules including workbooks, infographics, videos, and articles for different industries. Instructors can even tweak and tune existing courseware to suit their organizational needs.
The designers were also well aware that the tool itself can get in the way of a learner by being overly complex and presenting way too many options. The workflow is streamlined and simple enough for anyone to get started within a few minutes.
Litmos is geared toward small and medium enterprises and it has all the tools they may need to ensure their employee development initiatives are a success.
Features: Makes actionable process documentation easy, turn processes, procedures and policies into checklists
Price: $99/month for up to 20 members plus $5/month for every additional user
Free version: 14 days
Even though learning and development initiatives are holistic in nature, it’s only when employees act on them do they realize the value of their education. This is where process-based learning can really show its value.
SweetProcess allows companies to turn corporate knowledge into easy-to-follow process data that can be distributed anywhere through the cloud. Policies, processes and procedures are also clearly segregated so that employees know the delimitations of each.
Managers and learners alike can edit each process document and can add comments for other team members to review. While the software cannot supplement a complete LMS solution, it can serve as a downstream implementation tool that helps learners practice what they’ve learned.
Employee Development Case Studies
Companies have found creative ways to implement SweetProcess in their endeavors. Here are three case studies that showcase how SweetProcess has been used for L&D.
The word “alignment” is thrown around a lot in business circles, often out of context. But Tess Waresmith of Acceleration Partners, understands its importance well. Having worked with many global companies, Tess is familiar with the problems that occur should team members work at different paces.
When Tess took up her appointment as director of business operations with the marketing firm Acceleration Partners, she saw that many processes and goals overlapped, creating a lot of inefficiency and friction.
Through SweetProcess, Tess and her team managed to get a bird’s eye view of their processes, what was working and what wasn’t. During one of her brainstorming sessions, Tess and her team came to the conclusion that by automating certain processes, they can save everyone involved a lot of time, which is where SweetProcess really helped them out.
For example, if a team member needs to reach out to a client or stakeholder and needs specific documentation, then the entire series of steps can be cataloged as a process and shared with them.
SweetProcess also serves as a single source of truth from which all process-related information and data can be derived. In other words, everyone learns the same thing at the same pace, which ensures all the lessons stick.
TechQuarters is an IT firm supplying Microsoft Cloud solutions to small and medium enterprises. The company started out as a small team but grew at an impressive rate year after year. Today, TechQuarters is 43 strong and still growing.
Instead of being a one-size-fits-all solution, TechQuarters partners with clients to understand their unique challenges and provide tailored solutions for them. As they grew, the company began to realize that pockets of tribal knowledge were beginning to form across different teams.
Employees and teams had personal insights into service delivery which was simultaneously a strength and a challenge. While personal, unique insights certainly help people work more efficiently, they can also be shortsighted, misaligned with company policies and processes or even work against another team’s efforts.
TechQuarters decided to use SweetProcess to create a central repository of all their process-based data and know-how. Since all employees can contribute when processes, policies and procedures are being framed, the company can turn all the segmented tribal knowledge into company property that everyone can learn from.
pLink Leadership was founded with the intention of helping companies expand and grow. The company itself has been growing, but being a management consulting company, it knew the challenges that came with growth.
pLink was particularly aware of the fear of change that comes with going in new directions. It’s natural to fear the unknown and what it might bring. Gretchen Pisano, CEO of pLink says, “If something feels unknown, that generates fear, right? And that person feels, from a professional point of view, a huge worry: ‘I’m going to do something wrong. I’m going to make a mistake that gets the company in trouble or I get called out on.’”
As a fully virtual company, pLink was already in the market for a productivity solution that could help them overcome such obstacles by centralizing process information so that employees can feel at ease. SweetProcess fit their requirements perfectly. Says Gretchen, “SweetProcess’s value for me is that it has drastically eliminated that, I think, cut it by 80 percent so things that used to feel hard feel easy.”
Since fear is one of the primary obstacles to learning, SweetProcess helps bring a measure of clarity over what needs to be done. By turning company knowledge into process-based checklists, SweetProcess helps employees learn faster and better. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess.
Employee development is an evolving field and the topics covered above are best treated as a structure to build off of. As technology advances, so too will the ability to deliver better educational experiences to employees.
It’s important for modern enterprises to start treating their employees as internal customers whom they have to attract, delight and retain. It’s equally important to closely follow new developments so that your L&D programs can be updated on a regular basis.
SweetProcess can easily help you accomplish both these goals effortlessly. Let’s remember that new information can come from anywhere. The new workplace is built around the premise that there’s no central point from where good decisions and ideas originate.
Since all team members can contribute to process documentation in SweetProcess, you can update your SOPs in minutes. Learning and improvement in SweetProcess is as easy as an employee making improvement suggestions on a checklist which a manager approves.
Also, you can use an individual development pPlan (IDP) to kickoff your L&D program. IDPs are well-established tools for assessing individual strengths and creating customized learning programs for them.
We’ve created an IDP worksheet which covers all the points you will need to help your team members learn better.