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How online business courses are key to engaging employees now, and in future

Employees want more L&D (eg. masterclasses and lunch and learns) and expect bosses to pay for them

Robyn Hanley-Dafoe Website overview image

Image: Dr Robyne Hanley-Dafoe leads a masterclass for The Growth Faculty on decreasing anxiety to do better work.

When the going gets tough, the tough get...professional development.

As far back as 2016, more than half of surveyed workers knew it would become essential throughout their work life to keep up with changes in the workplace.

Now the 2020 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report predicts an upskilling and reskilling revolution over the next 3-5 years.

It forecasts:

  • A shift from instructor-led training to online learning (now made essential by the pandemic).
  • Learning and development (L&D) professionals increasingly seen as strategic business partners.
  • Learning and development repositioned as the key to growth and innovation.
  • Online learning solutions and self-directed learning seen as the top strategic areas of focus for L&D professionals in Australia, Germany, and India.
  • Increasing learner engagement as top focus for their U.S. counterparts.
  • Closing skills gaps as most important in the U.K.

McKinsey reports:

"With the growth of user-friendly digital-learning platforms, employees will take more ownership

of their professional development....such innovations will require companies to devote more resources to training."

Employees increasingly fear their skills may have a short shelf life, and they want their company's support to stay relevant.

A recent Seek study showed 67% of employees expected their employers to pay for their upskilling activities. Only 25% had participated in formal training in the past year, and 39% were keen for more.

While many executives seek out traditional degrees such as Bachelors in Business Management, others are looking for shorter online business courses, such as virtual masterclasses and seminars.

Managers stand to get so much upside from supporting and providing professional development, it's something of a no-brainer to provide it to teams, even those working remotely.

McKinsey's infographic below predicts the skills and traits needed towards 2030 - many requiring professional development investment.

Over the next decade, companies will need to:

  • Install a culture of lifelong learning
  • Provide training and raise skills levels of employees
  • Adapt and change mindsets of their CEOs and other C-suite executives
  • Increase leadership and management skills
  • Focus on technological skills, everything from basic to advanced
  • Train up more intrapreneurs and innovators
  • Encourage learnings in creativity and critical thinking

There's no doubt, many of your staff are feeling the strains of these changes, and general work pressure. An employer who ignores training and learning is also choosing to ignore their 3 key benefits:

  • Retention - 94% of employees say they'd stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning development (LinkedIn 2019 Workplace Learning Report)
  • Performance - Study shows training and development is a significant motivator for employees.
  • Engagement - Research shows significant effect on job satisfaction, organisational commitment, advocacy, pride, intention to stay, and overall employee engagement score.

Of all the employee engagement ideas that work, online L&D is one of the most effective, inexpensive, flexible, and time-effective forms of HR training.

The Growth Faculty staff have been experiencing this first-hand, with our pivot from face-to-face to virtual events. As well, we've had a steep learning curve to bring our community a range of online masterclasses.

There are multiple positive effects, according to a 3-year UWA CSI study, which showed investment in training and development improves:

  • Employee's role clarity & job knowledge
  • Self-confidence
  • Better decisions and leadership behaviours
  • Reduced costs
  • More funding
  • Better services

And, it might just keep talented, but right now scared and stressed, managers and staff in work.

  • Continuing professional development makes them more likely to want to stay, according to Forbes.
  • And, McKinsey highlights Nick van Dam's Elevating Learning and Development report which shows a large number of people will need to learn new skills to remain employable.

Team training and development is proven to:

  • Attract and retain talent
  • Develop people capabilities
  • Motivate and engage employees
  • Create a values-based culture
  • Build an employer brand

"Today, L&D leaders must design and implement interventions that support informal learning, including coaching and mentoring, on-the-job instruction, apprenticeships, leadership shadowing, action-based learning, on-demand access to digital learning, and lunch-and-learn sessions." - McKinsey Elevating Learning and Development report.

Showing nearly a third of CEOs now actively champion learning, LinkedIn's Workplace Learning Report describes the rising impact of the learning and development (L&D) discipline as:

  • A leadership and management development engine
  • A growth engine for career trajectories and meaningful business impact
  • An onboarding pro
  • An expert in scaling learning across the organisation

Fast Company says being an "eternal newbie" is critical, and it's important to develop a beginner's mind.

This means seeking out new information and teachings, and being unafraid to experiment with different theories and methods.

Finding the right professional development course or training is the next step.

  • Look for proven speakers or thought leaders in their field, preferably aligned with respected businesses, institutions or universities.
  • Check out which other organisations the training provider has worked with.
  • Hone in on what skill-sets your team needs (eg. time management, negotiation, disruption, leadership)
  • Read any FAQs and T&Cs.
  • Schedule the training course in your calendar to ensure you don't miss it.
  • Take notes during the session
  • To embed the knowledge, implement learnings as soon as possible, try to teach what you've learned to others, write an article, or do a presentation on the content.
  • Write to the training provider with feedback or questions.

Leadership development and other professsional training is on the rise, and agile companies know it. Ensure your own team is getting the training they want, in a way that they want it.

The Growth Faculty has this year launched virtual masterclasses - the Time For Transformation series; especially designed for business leaders. We make learning and development easy and inexpensive by bringing your team the world's renowned thought leader. Ensure your team are trained to pivot, adapt and innovate in these unprecedented times. See who's up next.