New hires do not come to the job well-versed with their specific functions. They need to undergo onboarding, which involves training or at least an orientation. A report by the Society for Human Resource Management estimates the cost for onboarding a single employee at around $4,125 on average.
With the ongoing pandemic and economic downturn experienced worldwide, companies want to make sure they keep training costs at a minimum. Preparing employees for deployment should not be time-consuming and must use the least amount of resources as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by embracing digitalization.
Digital transformation in employee training
Digitalization can be used to achieve optimized employee training. It entails the use of a system that is agile, adaptable, goal-oriented, and driven by employee data and feedback.
This ranges from something as simple as using mobile apps to employing more advanced technologies such as virtual and augmented reality. The most common forms of training digitalization involve the following: learning management systems (LMS), mobile applications, and extended reality technologies.
An LMS is often used in online training and hybrid setups. These usually center on course administration similar to how online classes or distance learning arrangements are conducted. They may reduce personal interactions, but they provide access to various online resources for employees.
Mobile apps are valuable employee training tools that facilitate skills development anytime, anywhere. In the customer service department, for example, apps that simulate interaction with customers can help customer service representatives hone their skills and remember protocols whenever they have time.
On the other hand, extended reality tech such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality provide learning experiences that are considerably more engaging. They can simulate scenarios that let employees get a more in-depth grasp of the details they need to learn.
One of the most notable features of digitized employee training programs is the unconscious shift towards self-directed learning. In the ICT sector, for example, there is a growing emphasis on enabling self-directed learning (SDL).
A paper on the practice of self-directed learning in the workplace found that with digital tools, there is a tendency for many to shift towards self-guided learning. There is an instinct to find information on one’s own instead of relying on lecturers or trainers to supply the knowledge:
“SDL in the context of workplace learning was considered a meaningful aspect from the viewpoint of one’s creativity and enthusiasm. SDL was described as a tool for creativity, which is essential in ICT work. In addition to creativity, learning was described and talked about as a trigger for motivation.”
This paradigm shift in corporate learning can only be advantageous to companies. For one, it promotes a culture of initiative, self-motivation, and enthusiasm at work. While it is the responsibility of companies to provide adequate training and orientation, employees more quickly learn the ropes when they are self-motivated and engaged.
Self-directed learning in this sense does not necessarily mean that employees themselves take full control over the learning process. Digitalization helps create more options for learning, but it does not shift training responsibility to the employees.
Boosting onboarding, orientation, training, and retention
Why should companies consider using digital technology in employee training? Arguably, the most important reason is that employees themselves want it.
Digitalization is playing a growing role in attracting and retaining talent. Forty percent of employees have decided to leave their jobs because of their lack of access to the latest digital tools, while some 58 percent said they wanted to find new employment to obtain digital skills, a study finds. Moreover, two of the most important factors that influence employee decisions to join a company are the company’s use of the latest digital tools (80 percent) and their reputation as a digital leader (62 percent).
In terms of digital tools, US workers feel less productive when their company uses outdated technology. The data is compelling, with 750 percent likelihood of employees to be frustrated and 450 percent tendency of employees to quit when their companies refuse to abandon their obsolete or un-updated tech.
Cost and growth implications
There have been no authoritative studies yet on the direct cost implications of digitizing employee training. However, it’s not difficult to see how a digital transformation in the HR department is largely beneficial. The advantage of attracting top talents (because of a company’s digitalization) may be challenging to quantify, but the cost advantage of retaining employees for whom a company has spent a good amount of training expenses is undeniable.
A study on employee turnover cost by USI Insurance Services estimates employee turnover cost to be around six to nine months worth of salary. The bulk of this amount is attributed to the money spent on recruitment and training. Employee turnover costs are even higher when it comes to experts, executives, or highly-educated employees at 213 percent of annual salary.
Employees are increasingly becoming influential in the growth of their company. Today, relationships with employees are regarded as more important than relationships with clients. As a corollary, growth is found to be difficult to achieve when employees are dissatisfied. Productivity losses and high employee turnover are considered to be a costly problem by 80 percent of businesses.
Whether it’s through the use of mobile apps or extended reality tech, digital employee training solutions almost always result in considerable improvements. The use of digital solutions affects employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. The direct training expense savings or cost benefits of using digitized employee training may be difficult to assess, but multiple studies prove that the indirect costs and consequences on business performance and growth tilt in the favor of digitalization.
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