As technology reshapes the future of work, workers are struggling to remain relevant. In an edX survey conducted last year, only one fifth of respondents considered the education from their college major to be translatable to their current field and more than one third experienced a lack of proficiency in at least one new skill area or subject area of a current or past job. In other words, your employees are also feeling the skills gap. Workers are aware that they aren’t fully prepared for today’s changing skill requirements — but unsure how best to ask for help with professional development and training. In the same edX survey, almost half of respondents reported feeling uncomfortable asking their employer for help with learning opportunities and costs.
To counter the stigma of asking for help, anticipate the reasons employees are nervous to ask in the first place, and structure your messaging and programming accordingly. In this article, originally published in Forbes, edX founder and CEO Anant Agrawal debunks the three most common myths about employee learning:
Use these learnings to empower your employees to pursue the training and development opportunities they need to be successful.
Employees can be intimidated to ask for help for fear of how that will reflect on them. Will this look like they don’t know how to do their job? Will their boss question their abilities and/or current skillset? The reality is, in the future of work, everyone will need to be updating their skills. Employees that proactively ask are simply self-aware of this known fact. Instead, managers should take this ask as a sign of engagement with the company and a sign that their employee simply wants to be the best at their job. They should also consider how the training that their employee is seeking will also benefit the company.
No employer wants to invest in their competitors’ new talent. However, companies that do not invest in the professional growth of their employees will be set up for failure regardless. No star employee wants to stay at a company that doesn’t appear to value them. And even if an employee does eventually leave, they will speak highly of their positive experience, potentially serving as a referral for future job candidates. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees noted that they are more likely to stay with a company longer if it invests in their careers. Additionally, organizations that demonstrate a strong culture of learning often have higher retention and engagement rates (30-50% higher) than those that don’t.
Many managers think that if they offer learning opportunities for their employees, less work will get done. While there may be an initial time investment, the tradeoff will ultimately be beneficial to the business, as employees apply their new knowledge and skills on the job. In fact, 77% of employees agree that a culture of learning allows them to do their best work, 76% see the impact in productivity and efficiency, and another 74% draw a correlation between culture and their ability to serve their customer base.
For a successful workforce, it is critical to support training programs and development opportunities for all employees. Part of that work means acknowledging the myths associated with these types of requests, and dispelling them. Instead, we can look at corporate learning as mutually beneficial to both employer and employee.
Effective talent development is key to the kind of workforce transformation that boosts a company’s bottom line and achieves long-term, mission-critical business goals. Whether setting up new employees for success, or building pathways for upskilling and reskilling your current workforce, learn more about online training and learning experiences that can help you effectively engage employees.