Even HR executives have to reinvent themselves to survive

New trends, technology, and modern changes are creating concerns for the trained level of HR professionals. With different changes continuously entering companies, HR professionals are having to go through different pieces of training. Read this blog post to learn about HR professionals having to learn about new and modernized paces.

HR chief executives by and large are ill-equipped to meet the needs of the modern workplace, according to a new report of 500 top executives.

The irony is the HR profession is perhaps entering a golden age for HR leaders, as the role shifts beyond administrative and process-related functions to work that is at the very core of a company’s business strategy to keep top talent.

And yet because the workplace is changing so fast to adapt to technological and demographic shifts, the study by SHRM and another insurance company found that the role of HR hasn’t been able to keep pace to train the latest generation of HR leaders.

Because work functions are constantly in flux, training and development can no longer be considered episodic events but instead will require perpetual reskilling to stay relevant. The study noted that between 2003 and 2013, more than 70% of the Fortune 1000 companies changed and were replaced by nimbler firms.

Most HR executives or chief people officers, or CPOs, will need to reskill to stay relevant — and do so quickly, according to HR People + Strategy, the group’s network of business and thought leaders in human resources.

“As the pace of innovation and technology in the workplace accelerates, CPOs will need to reinvent themselves,” says the study’s co-author Suzanne McAndrew, the global head of talent of another insurance company. “With disruption on the horizon, organizations will require strong, visionary people leaders who can think through the people and talent strategy, and work with management on the business strategy.”

Most executives “are not prepared,” McAndrew says.

“We’re only going to get things done if we have the right people, the right talent in the right functions with the right goals,” Upwork CEO Stephanie Kasriel says in the study. “That to me is the role of HR, to ensure that we have the right people strategy in order to inform the business strategy.”

The study reviewed key changes shaping HR functions for human resources leaders and also found:

•Virtually all respondents (99%) believe HR executives must have the agility and courage to change, yet only 35% said today’s leaders are prepared to respond.
•More than nine in 10 respondents (94%) say it’s important to explore the development of future HR leaders, but only about a third (35%) agree that future staff are receiving the training they’ll need to succeed.
•Only one-third of respondents (36%) are prepared to think about how technology can be used to execute work in the future; only a quarter (26%) say they have the technical acumen to evaluate new technologies.

HR leaders can do five things to help drive change, including acting as an advocate for change and agility, developing digital technology to improve HR functions, using automation to foster new skills and reinvention for staff, focusing on workplace culture and leadership and elevating HR decision-making to include more analytics, the study found.
Alexander Alonso, chief knowledge officer at SHRM, noted that HR executives have the greatest potential to foster the evolution of enterprises by building up their own expertise to meet future workforce demands.

Respondents also recognize much progress is still needed with digital enablement and understanding how to apply digital technology and automation in the workplace. Only 42% had a favorable opinion of their organization’s progress when it comes to embracing technology that builds a consumer experience for employees.

“While CPOs don’t need to be technology experts, they must understand how changing technology can impact work and the workforce,” says Ravin Jesuthasan, a managing director at another insurance company and co-author of the study.

SOURCE: Siew, W. (08 January 2020) "Even HR executives have to reinvent themselves to survive" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/even-hr-executives-have-to-reinvent-themselves-to-survive

Education benefits are a critical offering to retain top talent

The top reason why employees pursue higher education and training is to keep up with or get ahead of any changes in their specific position, according to a recent survey. Read the following blog post for more on why education benefits are critical when it pertains to retaining top talent.

The American workplace is changing rapidly and so are the expectations workers have of their employers. Under pressure to keep pace with technology’s transformation of the labor market, employers are racing to up- and re-skill their workforce. They know that frontline workers, whose tasks are often most susceptible to automation, need training to remain viable and competitive.

According to this year’s Bright Horizons Working Learning Index, which surveyed more than 30,000 working learners, employees are well aware that their workplace is changing. When asked to select their top three reasons for pursuing more education or training, the most prevalent answer was that they wanted to “keep pace with or get ahead of changes in my position.” This beat out all other reasons, including advancement, opportunities at another organization and even earning more money at work.

Generation Z workers now rank education over all other benefits in importance, excluding healthcare. But they tend to differentiate between education and training, ranking education benefits above training and development.

That’s with good reason: a college degree is still the great lever for economic mobility and career advancement among frontline workers, driving higher lifetime earnings that total more than $2 million, on average. But with college costs rising, Gen Z is looking to employers to fill the gap. About four in ten Gen Z employees believe their tuition reimbursement program is the single best benefit offered by their employer. Twice as many say it is among the top three voluntary benefits.

Among the surveyed workers, three-quarters (76%) say a tuition reimbursement program would make them more likely to remain at their organization, and eight in 10 (81%) say it would make them more likely to recommend working there to a friend. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say such benefits make them “happier at work.”

Indeed, employees of all generations rank education benefits far above those offered for wellness and even above highly coveted benefits like life or disability insurance and paid family leave. In this survey, only retirement savings programs and paid sick or vacation time ranked more highly.

Importantly, nearly half (49%) said they would not have pursued education if their employers did not offer tuition assistance. Slightly more (55%) say the time commitment required for a degree or certification under their employer’s tuition assistance program is the biggest challenge they faced — as a result, many see the value of competency-based and self-paced learning options, often delivered online.

Data like this may change the calculus for employers considering investments in not just upskilling but education. While it may seem counterintuitive, employers must offer their frontline workers broad learning opportunities and educational benefits that can help them move beyond their current positions and pursue the next steps of their careers. Companies must have the foresight to invest in their potential.

SOURCE: Donovan, P. (22 November 2019) "Education benefits are a critical offering to retain top talent" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/offering-education-benefits-retains-top-talent

When Companies Should Invest in Training Their Employees — and When They Shouldn’t

Do you invest in training and development activities at your organization? According to an industry report, U.S. companies spent $90 billion in 2017 on training and development activities. Read on to learn more.

According to one industry report, U.S. companies spent over $90 billion dollars on training and development activities in 2017, a year-over-year increase of 32.5 %. While many experts emphasize the importance and benefits of employee development — a more competitive workforce, increased employee retention, and higher employee engagement — critics point to a painful lack of results from these investments. Ultimately, there is truth in both perspectives. Training is useful at times but often fails, especially when it is used to address problems that it can’t actually solve.

Many well-intended leaders view training as a panacea to obvious learning opportunities or behavioral problems. For example, several months ago, a global financial services company asked me to design a workshop to help their employees be less bureaucratic and more entrepreneurial. Their goal was to train people to stop waiting around for their bosses’ approval, and instead, feel empowered to make decisions on their own. They hoped, as an outcome, decisions would be made faster. Though the company seemed eager to invest, a training program was not the right way to introduce the new behavior they wanted their employees to learn.

Training can be a powerful medium when there is proof that the root cause of the learning need is an undeveloped skill or a knowledge deficit. For those situations, a well-designed program with customized content, relevant case material, skill-building practice, and a final measurement of skill acquisition works great. But, in the case of this organization, a lack of skills had very little to do with their problem. After asking leaders in the organization why they felt the need for training, we discovered the root causes of their problem had more to do with:

  • Ineffective decision-making processes that failed to clarify which leaders and groups owned which decisions
  • Narrowly distributed authority, concentrated at the top of the organization
  • No measurable expectations that employees make decisions
  • No technologies to quickly move information to those who needed it to make decisions

Given these systemic issues, it’s unlikely a training program would have had a productive, or sustainable outcome. Worse, it could have backfired, making management look out of touch.

Learning is a consequence of thinking, not teaching. It happens when people reflect on and choose a new behavior. But if the work environment doesn’t support that behavior, a well-trained employee won’t make a difference. Here are three conditions needed to ensure a training solution sticks.

1. Internal systems support the newly desired behavior. Spotting unwanted behavior is certainly a clue that something needs to change. But the origins of that unwanted behavior may not be a lack of skill. Individual behaviors in an organization are influenced by many factors, like: how clearly managers establish, communicate, and stick to priorities, what the culture values and reinforces, how performance is measured and rewarded, or how many levels of hierarchy there are. These all play a role in shaping employee behaviors. In the case above, people weren’t behaving in a disempowered way because they didn’t know better. The company’s decision-making processes forbid them from behaving any other way. Multiple levels of approval were required for even tactical decisions. Access to basic information was limited to high-ranking managers. The culture reinforced asking permission for everything. Unless those issues were addressed, a workshop would prove useless.

2. There is commitment to change. Any thorough organizational assessment will not only define the skills employees need to develop, it will also reveal the conditions required to reinforce and sustain those skills once a training solution is implemented. Just because an organization recognizes the factors driving unwanted behavior, doesn’t mean they’re open to changing them. When I raised the obvious concerns with the organization above, I got the classic response, “Yes, yes, of course we know those issues aren’t helping, but we think if we can get the workshop going, we’ll build momentum and then get to those later.” This is usually code for, “It’s never going to happen.” If an organization isn’t willing to address the causes of a problem, a training will not yield its intended benefit.

3. The training solution directly serves strategic priorities. When an organization deploys a new strategy — like launching a new market or product — training can play a critical role in equipping people with the skills and knowledge they need to help that strategy succeed. But when a training initiative has no discernible purpose or end goal, the risk of failure is raised. For example, one of my clients rolled out a company-wide mindfulness workshop. When I asked a few employees what they thought, they said, “It was interesting. At least it got me two hours away from my cubicle.” When I asked the sponsoring executive to explain her thought process behind the training, she said, “Our employee engagement data indicated our people are feeling stressed and overworked, so I thought it would be a nice perk to help them focus and reduce tension.” But when I asked her what was causing the stress, her answer was less definitive: “I don’t really know, but most of the negative data came from Millennials and they complain about being overworked. Plus, they like this kind of stuff.” She believed her training solution had strategic relevance because it linked to a vital employee metric. But evaluations indicated that, though employees found the training “interesting,” it didn’t actually reduce their stress. There are a myriad of reasons why the workload could have been causing employees stress. Therefore, this manager’s energy would have been better directed at trying to determine those reasons in her specific department and addressing them accordingly — despite her good intentions.

If you are going to invest millions of dollars into company training, be confident it is addressing a strategic learning need. Further, be sure your organization can and will sustain new skills and knowledge by addressing the broader factors that may threaten their success. If you aren’t confident in these conditions, don’t spend the money.

SOURCE: Carucci, R. (29 October 2018). "When Companies Should Invest in Training Their Employees – and When They Shouldn’t" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2018/10/when-companies-should-invest-in-training-their-employees-and-when-they-shouldnt

Personalized Employee Training Plans: Have You Joined This Trend?

Originally posted January 8, 2015 by Bridget Miller on HR Daily Advisor.

Did you know that many organizations are opting to create training programs for employees that are more personalized rather than generic or role-based? These training plans take into account not only the role the individual is training for but also the individual’s future goals and any gaps in that person’s skill set.

Assessing individual skill levels through testing;This trend is made possible because of technology. Today, there are dozens of online platforms that can handle every aspect of training, including:

  • Outlining what training courses are needed for each role (and each individual) throughout the organization;
  • Tracking which courses have been completed by each individual employee;
  • Monitoring compliance for any training session that is legally mandated;
  • Showing employees what training sessions are available within the organization;
  • Storing actual training documents, such as presentations, handouts, and more;
  • Testing learner knowledge after a training session through post-tests to ensure the session was effective;
  • Allowing individuals to search for specific types of training and other resources;
  • Allowing individuals to take training courses in the format they prefer (in some instances), whether that be in-person, online, or even on a mobile device;
  • Providing immediate access to online training and informal resources;
  • Allowing employees to comment on content and interact with one another and with trainers;
  • Providing training certificates for course completions; and
  • Providing reports with any of the above information, plus much more.

Technology enables all of these actions; it is up to the organization to decide which aspects to focus on and utilize as they set up their system.

Why Create Personalized Training Plans?

You may be thinking that this sounds like a lot of effort and expense—and if it’s done haphazardly, it could be. But if personalized training plans are implemented as part of a larger focus on training and productivity improvements, there’s no reason they cannot be a win-win for both employers and employees.

Here are a few of the benefits for employers:

  • Fewer skills shortages, because employees get trained in what they need;
  • More satisfied employees who feel that their employer is investing in their development, which leads to increased morale and retention;
  • Increased productivity from employees who are properly trained for their roles and who are brought up to speed more quickly;
  • Less wasted time for unnecessary training (i.e., when employees are put through training simply because it’s required, not because they need it);
  • The organization can be more competitive with employees who have skill sets closely aligned with their roles;
  • The organization can gain a reputation as an employer that cares about employee development, which can lead to better-qualified applicants;
  • Higher customer satisfaction, because employees are well-trained in how to serve the customer best;
  • Better employee retention of training materials, because employees can take training in smaller chunks at their own discretion—the learning is reinforced more frequently over time; and
  • More employees will benefit from training if they have the option to take it in a format that is best suited to their learning style. The training has the potential to be more effective when personalized, even if the same content is covered across all employees.

How Can Personalized Employee Training Plans Be Implemented?

Even if you’re already on board with the idea of implementing personalized training plans for employees, it can be daunting to think about how to implement it in practice. There are quite a few ways to do it, so each employer can opt to customize their implementation in a way that works best for them. Here are just a few examples:

  • Incorporate training and employee development into the performance management system so that it can be paired with employee goals.
  • Convert some training to online versions to allow employees to take additional training sessions as their time allows. Obviously, this is not possible for every type of training, but it can be useful in many cases and can often be used for portions of courses even when it cannot be used for the full course. For example, if an employee needs to attend a live training session on a particular topic, online options could still be used to provide pre-reading, handouts, and pre-tests to assess skill levels in advance of the session.
  • Implement a learning management system (LMS) that will assist in tracking training needs. This could also allow employees to pick and choose optional training sessions to attend, especially if some of those options are available online rather than only through live courses.

Has your organization begun to implement more personalized training options? What methods did you use? What are your next steps?



Ongoing training about job descriptions can drive employee engagement

Originally posted on HR.BLR.com on November 26, 2014

Ongoing training about job descriptions is “essential, since no job remains exactly the same from year to year,” say Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, business, marketing, and corporate training experts and co-authors of The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People.

In fact, since “job descriptions are typically out of date when the job is filled,” the authors recommend that employers “ask every employee every year to rewrite his or her job description and tell the employer what kind of training they require to stay up with the technological and procedural changes they have witnessed during that year. Involving them in this process gives them ownership of the job and will fully engage them in the training they requested to do a better job.”

“Engage employees with questions like, ‘What kinds of skills do you need to do your job better?’ When they have a hand in the training program, they will put the most into it and get the most out of it,” Harvey says.

The offering of bonuses based on overall company performance also can drive engagement in training. “Once in place, these incentives will provide a powerful consideration to learn the job, learn the company, learn the market, and become a sponge for any training that will help them achieve that bonus,” says Houlihan.

Cross-training provides another opportunity to engage employees. “We believe in know-the-need rather than need-to-know,” says Harvey. “Many companies feel that certain subjects are not necessary for the individual to do their job. They put them on a need-to-know basis.”

However, “training in other departments, together with the challenges facing those departments, provides employees with appreciation for those functions, and they are more likely to identify with them as part of the same team,” she says. “Cross-training can provide big picture thinking and reduce silo isolation, which can have a very positive impact on interdepartmental cooperation.”

Top 10 Employee Training Mistakes

Originally posted on https://ebn.benefitnews.com

Employee training can be a valuable benefit, yet much of the money and time companies spend on training programs is wasted, contends John Tschohl, president of Service Quality Institute, a customer service training company. Here are the main reasons group training fails:

1. Large groups

You can’t have a good group discussion if 100 people are in the room. Try to limit training sessions to 15 people so everyone has a chance to participate. If the group size is too large, most employees won’t participate.

2. Conversation domination

It’s natural in groups for three people to speak up while everyone else stays silent. Facilitators must call on everyone in the room to participate — if they don’t, they won’t buy into the training goals.

3. Silly games

People don’t like role-playing games. Games and exercises have to do with something that builds success as a team. Employees need to be actively involved in the exercise.

4. Complicated training materials

If the material is not easily understood, it will not be implemented. Test the material on several small groups. Make adjustments, then roll out the final version to the entire organization.

5. Facilitator-dominated sessions

Facilitators should be seen and seldom heard. They should steer the conversation, but they should not dominate the discussion. They should ask leading questions and make sure everyone talks at some point.

6. Lectures

Remember how you fell asleep when attending a boring lecture in college? Your employees are no different. Lectures are not an effective way to get employees to change their attitudes and beliefs or learn new skills.

7. Irrelevant information

If the material isn't relevant to their jobs, employees won’t accept it. They want ideas they can use immediately.

8. Bad physical environment

Learning can’t take place if employees aren't comfortable. Invest in a room that looks pleasant and professional, advises Tschohl. It sounds basic, but make sure the room is well heated or cooled and has comfortable seats. Offer refreshments. Make sure there aren't any outside distractions such as noise.

9. Too much repetition

Employees can’t watch the same training materials twice. Organizations need to bring in new trainers with new information and different teaching styles.

10. Not accounting for different learning styles

Millennials may learn differently than their older colleagues and may get bored more easily. If the training isn't entertaining, you may lose their interest and participation.



How to Find the Right Leadership Training for Your Company

Originally posted August 07, 2012 by Sharlyn Lauby on https://www.hrbartender.com

There’s lots of talk these days about leadership deficits. Part of the conversation is being fueled by the skills gap. Another part is focused on the Boomers retiring and Millennials entering the workforce. Regardless of the reason, I think we can all agree that strong, capable leadership is necessary for our businesses to survive and thrive.

People have to learn leadership skills from somewhere. Typically, leadership isn't taught in high school or college. Yes, you might learn some theories but without real life examples it’s hard to see how and when those theories should be applied. That’s why organizations have to put some kind of leadership training in place. It allows individuals to tie together the theory they learned and the practical application they’re gaining in the workplace.

I’m guessing I don’t need to sell you on the concept of good leadership. The question is when it comes time to bring leadership training into your organization, what’s the best way to do it? How can you find the right leadership training for your organization? Here are a few things to consider:

Decide what skills to focus on. Make a list of the challenges facing your organization and prioritize them. If you try to tackle too much, it can overwhelm the training participants. Narrow it down to a few skills that will make the most impact and start with those. This is very helpful in designing the program and also can be valuable when determining your training budget.

Talk to several people. Any really good training provider isn't afraid of a client talking to others. Companies make the right decision for their operation and find the training provider who best aligns with their culture. Know a provider’s experience, what industries they've worked in and their philosophy regarding the subject matter.

Like the methods the training provider uses. It’s important to understand the training provider’s style, any models they mention, the books they share and the activities they conduct. For example, if you’re not a fan of games in training, what happens if the trainer uses games? Or maybe doing Karate as part of a teambuilding exercise? You probably want to know about that (and yes, some training providers do that sort of thing). Those conversations should happen early on.

Consider schedules and the operation. Work with your training provider to find a schedule that allows for an excellent program and minimal disruption to the operation. When participants are distracted during training, it’s hard on everyone. A good provider should be able to work with your schedule.

Know what evaluation methods the trainer uses. Ask your training provider what they measure from the training program. If all they do is a Level 1 evaluation, request that they also provide a Level 2. This helps you, the client, have a better understanding of the learning that took place. Trainers often get a bad rap for not showing ROI from their training sessions. These evaluations can provide helpful information.

Discuss ways for participants to practice after the training and retain the material. Let’s face it…training is an investment. Companies want to know their investment is going to stick. Training providers should work with their client companies and find ways for participants to immediately apply the material they've learned. It’s the best way for participants to retain the information. Find out if the vendor offers additional options such as coaching or social learning to help reinforce the initial training.

The next time you’re looking for training, I hope you find this list helpful. It can really make a difference in selecting the right training provider and getting a quality program that will benefit your organization. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions and check out our list of highly successful, proven training programs and customized solutions that can be tailored to the unique needs of your organization.


Prepare Your Employees for Virtual Training?

Original article from https://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

Virtual training is an effective new way to train … as long as learners are ready to engage with the new training environment. Today's Advisor presents part one of a two-part series in which we hear from one expert on virtual learning.

When making the move to virtual training, "we, as trainers, often get caught up with what we need to do to prepare," says Cindy Huggett, training consultant and author of Virtual Training Basics (www.cindyhuggett.com).

However, it is important to keep in mind that while virtual training is a new way for trainers to train, it is "a new way for learners to learn as well." As a result, trainers need to prepare learners to thrive in a virtual training environment.

In an article for our sister publication, Training Forum, Huggett offers three suggestions to help ensure that virtual training will be effective.

  1. "Define what you mean by virtual training. There are so many different definitions out there."
  2. "Be very purposeful about your design," she says. "What are the learning objectives, and what is the best way to accomplish them?"
  3. Make sure learners are familiar with the technology before training begins; that they understand "what learning online is going to be like"; and that they know how to minimize distractions.

"I'm a big fan of having a kickoff session," that is, a 20- to 30-minute prerequisite session to be completed before training actually begins, Huggett says. That helps familiarize learners with the content and the technology (e.g., learning how to submit questions, respond to poll questions). If they are new to the technology, they will experience what it is like to be in an online class."

She also suggests giving learners tips in advance to minimize disruptions during training, such as going to a reserved conference room alone to participate in the training. A checklist can be an effective tool, as well; and that can be as simple as instructing learners to set their phone to "do not disturb," turn their daily to-do list face down on their desk, and hang a “do not disturb” sign on their office door and ask them to enforce it, she says.

Why It Matters

  • As more and more Americans get into social media, they will become more open to learning in a social media environment at work.
  • As the economy continues to sputter, your employer may have less money to devote to training—and virtual training is inherently less expensive than face-to- face training.
  • As younger generations, who've grown up with social media and mobile technologies, move into your workforce, you'll be ready to train them in formats they know well.


Training, Benefits Can Bring Millennials Around

Source: United Benefit Advisors

Maybe it's an age thing.

An annual survey by the Center for Professional Excellence notes that the perceived professionalism of entry-level (and thus usually younger) workers by their managers has slipped during the past five years, with about 45 percent of those polled saying their employees' work ethic has worsened, according to a report by Workforcemagazine. Respondents cited a "too-casual" view of work (87 percent), workers not being self-starters (72 percent) and "a lack of ownership in one's work" (69 percent).

The survey reflects an emerging trend that poses a tough challenge to HR professionals: how to encourage "millennials" -- today's youngest workers -- to adapt and succeed within a company's business culture.

The first step, according to Joel Gross of Coalition Technologies, is to train young workers from the start on what is to be expected in their jobs. Aaron McDaniel, an author and millennial himself, agrees.

"We haven't necessarily been taught how to be successful in a working environment," McDaniel told Workforce.

Creating a strong line of communication about expectations is only part of the equation when trying to elevate the performance of millennials. As with most employees, compensation can serve as a strong motivator for millennials, as well.

After seeing wages stagnate during the recent economic recession, today's young workers say they prefer guaranteed salary increases over benefits -- a shift from employees who came before them -- according to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). In prior studies, medical insurance benefits topped the list for young workers as the most important form of compensation, according to Edwin Koc, a director at NACE.

"We've basically asked the same question since 2007 and far and away, employer-paid medical insurance was the No. 1 benefit that they were seeking," Koc said in a FOX Business report. "[Now] they want to be assured that their starting salary is not going to be what they have for the next five years, but that they can actually move up a little bit."

While salary is always a major factor in compensation discussions, employers should be diligent about educating workers about the value of other employer-sponsored benefits, experts say. This includes the importance of health coverage (even for young and seemingly healthy workers), retirement plan options and even tuition reimbursement, if the company offers it.

Employers also should be open-minded if millennials make suggestions about new benefits that would work for them, said Tracy McCarthy, chief HR officer at SilkRoad.

"I appreciate when employees ask this and I take it as an opportunity to help less-seasoned employees understand business financial concepts and how benefits play into the equation," McCarthy told FOX Business. "Most employees expect and appreciate transparency."


Training Trends

HR professionals can expect some new training trends to emerge in the new year, according to AMA Enterprise. The group expects executives to demand more transparency from training programs and predicts a higher demand for basic-skills training. Also, companies will turn to training to help boost employee loyalty and morale, the group said.