Can’t seem to find good help these days? You’re not alone.
Across the United States, employers are facing a shortage of skilled, qualified workers. Unemployment is at a historic low, which means job-seekers can afford to be picky. It also means significant turnover, as new hires are increasingly likely to find better positions mere months or weeks after coming on board. As a result, recruiting and retaining capable employees is harder than ever.
This may sound like a crisis, but smart business leaders see it as an opportunity. They know that the best employees aren’t born—they’re created. They also know they don’t need to raise salaries, offer four-week sabbaticals, or construct onsite gyms to attract and keep people.
What these business leaders realize is that the key to developing a skilled, engaged, and dedicated workforce is professional growth and education.
Proper Onboarding Makes All the Difference…
An effective workforce onboarding program is a powerful competitive differentiator. It accelerates new hires’ time to productivity, minimizes room for errors and risks, promotes engagement, and drives positive business outcomes.
In the realm of customer service, a good learning program is what fuels customer satisfaction, fast response times, high net promoter scores, and customer retention.
However, in too many workplaces—especially brick-and-mortar call centers—learning only happens on the job, and typically in an impromptu and chaotic fashion. People learn what to do by learning what not to do—through painful and often demoralizing experiences. Perhaps the employer has left essential elements out of their onboarding program, or figures that the only way for employees to get the hang of things is to jump right in.
This laissez-faire approach to education has detrimental effects on employee morale, particularly in the early days of a job. A 2018 BambooHR study found that roughly one-third (31%) of workers depart their new positions within the first six months.
Their top complaint? Poor preparation. Approximately 76% of employees surveyed cited a lack of proper onboarding as their reason for leaving, saying they felt overwhelmed, under-qualified, and under-appreciated.
…and the Rest of the Employee Lifecycle
When people do make it through the first six months, they frequently aren’t any better-equipped than they were when they started. They may not possess critical skills managers and customers expect them to have—including so-called “soft skills,” such as collaboration and active listening, that can make or break customer relationships.
Consider how many of your employees are competent in the following:
- complex problem-solving
- critical thinking
- people management
- coordinating with others
- emotional intelligence
- judgment and decision-making
- service orientation
- cognitive flexibility
The World Economic Forum ranks these as the top 10 most important skills for workers to have in 2020. But many people haven’t developed them due to “outdated models of education, which over-index on cognitive learning and do not develop the social and emotional skills required for the future,” as a recent Deloitte article states.
Businesses can—and should—educate workers on soft skills, but most don’t. The assumption is that soft skills can’t be taught or that they have no demonstrable impact on real-world performance.
According to Deloitte:
“Most organizations … lack a focused approach to building essential human skills in-house. One reason for this may be that these types of skills are commonly thought to be innate—but research suggests just the opposite. According to research conducted by Harvard University, social-emotional and noncognitive skills—often considered to be part of the ‘soft’ skills repertoire—are malleable into adulthood and can be developed with the right resources, environment, and incentives.”
To prove the return on investment of learning soft skills, Deloitte points to a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study in which employees underwent a 12-month workforce learning program focused on improving competencies such as communication and problem-solving. The program resulted in a 250% ROI within eight months.
Whether it centers on soft skills or not, any ongoing workforce development initiative is better than none. Professional growth is a crucial motivator in the workplace, especially for millennials and younger employees. A lack of growth and learning opportunities is one of the most common reasons employees leave. Moreover, continuous learning ensures employees stay up-to-date with evolving jobs, technologies, and expectations in our rapidly changing world.
The Rise of Distance Learning
Learning is essential for workers in any team or environment, but it doesn’t need to slow down or get in the way of work. More and more organizations are abandoning the whiteboards, classrooms, and clunky learning management systems for distance learning solutions.
Distance learning is nothing new—universities have been offering it for years. But its application in the workplace is relatively novel. And organizations that implement it correctly have witnessed that it can be as effective—if not more—than-in person education.
Unlike conventional employee development, distance learning can be conducted at any time, from anywhere. Participants learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. This allows employers to better meet the needs of flexible, remote workers.
Many distance learning solutions incorporate blended learning, which combines instructor-led lessons, discussions, videos, simulations, and other forms of training into a single curriculum. Blended learning is designed for different kinds of learners and learning styles.
We use this approach at Liveops and can attest to its success. Not only is our blended, distance learning-based platform faster than a typical training program, but it also produces more capable agents.
Another key to success in adult learning is gamification. The blended model is supported through ongoing assessments and tracking knowledge transfer and retention.
Liveops: Access a Certified Workforce On-Demand, Without the Overhead
When you partner with Liveops, you gain access to a skilled and engaged community of agents—without the cost and complexity of onboarding workers in-house. Our agents learn key skills necessary to maximize customer satisfaction, deal with challenging callers, follow the rules and compliance requirements, manage their time as independent contractors, and more.
The seasoned Liveops learning team also works closely with every client to develop program certification materials specific to the organization’s requirements. Our blended solution combines performance-based learning and instructor-led certification, depending on your needs and the project’s complexity.
Are you looking for more insights about education and development? If you can’t get enough learning about learning, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be exploring this topic here further in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned to our blog!