Using Technology to Upskill Remote-Working Staff

Using Technology to Upskill Remote-Working Staff

With many SMEs postponing employee training due to the pandemic, we explore why now is the time to focus on upskilling staff and how technology can help facilitate this

By Aldona Limani

Since lockdown began in late March and remote working for most people changed from an occasional activity to a continuous one, technology has come to the fore. A seemingly never-ending succession of Zoom calls and virtual meetings has allowed organisations to function and even thrive. 

But while businesses have been happily using modern technology to keep abreast of business developments and tasks, they’ve been less keen to investigate the latest training opportunities offered by today’s learning and development technology. In fact, due to the majority employees and business owners scrambling to organize remote working teams or pivot their offering, training and upskilling staff have been put on the back-burner by many organisations over the last six months. 

Despite this, it's important to recognize that nurturing a culture of continuous learning benefits organisations in a number of ways. Apart from ensuring their employees are able to cope with a working environment in continual flux, learning enables companies to keep abreast of innovation and the competition while holding onto their most valuable talent. 

The problem with focusing on productivity 

The economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic has naturally caused many workers to worry about their job security. An understandable, if unfortunate, consequence of this concern has been for employees to focus on productivity as a way of proving to their employer that they’re too valuable to be let go. 

This focus, in turn, has distracted employees from the equally important need to upskill and reskill themselves in order to be able to cope with the changes and challenges thrown up by an unpredictable business environment. This has resulted in many employees using the time they'd usually set aside to focus on their development to get more work done. 

But as employees with a growth mindset continuously react to the market and gain the skills they need, they become more flexible and are able to adapt to any future changes. This makes them far more valuable to employers. It's therefore vital to balance productivity with development during this time.

Closing the skills gap with technology

It’s only by being aware of their employees’ current skills that employers can identify skills gaps in their workforce that need closing. Thanks to modern technology, organisations seeking to plug the skills gaps in their workforce can rely on a learning management system (LMS) to identify the problem areas and recommend suitable training programmes. Powered by AI and machine learning, the LMS analyses every employee’s skills profile and then proposes tailored courses to equip each worker with the knowledge and ability to overcome their skills challenges. 

This means employers who are short of time or who don't have the resources available to conduct a thorough review of employees' skills can use such technology to help identify where the skills gaps lie and how to facilitate appropriate training. 

Delivering training remotely

In order to deliver upskilling programmes remotely, employers first need to appreciate each individual’s specific role, instead of viewing employees as one homogenous group. In an e-learning situation, it’s vital to underline the value of the learning materials offered and assess the role they play in each employee’s individual development. 

AI-powered learning platforms allow employers to provide specific content based on a learner’s past performance and individual goals. Employees that have flagged a particular skills gap receive targeted recommendations to address that gap, but in a more personalized way. 

For example, learning and development technology could recognize that a certain employee might be able to skip a few modules and pursue a less linear learning journey compared to a colleague who might lack the basic skills related to that particular topic. 

More advanced technology could also deliver a tailored learning experience by understanding each learner’s content format preference – whether that’s videos, quizzes or podcasts – and only suggesting resources that meet this preference. 

Overall, it's up to the employer to ensure that they're encouraging learning and development amongst their staff during this time. This will not only result in happier staff who feel as though they're valued and lead to higher retention rates amongst employees, but it will also have a tangible impact on business performance and efficiency. Luckily, there are plenty of e-learning tools and development programmes available via apps and technology, it's just about finding the right one for your business and growth goals. 

About the Author

Aldona Limani is EMEA Market Development lead at Docebo – a cloud-based learning management software designed to make customers, partners, and employees love their learning experience. It works with leading businesses across the world, including Hawk-Eye, Brompton Bikes and Newcross Healthcare.