Former American first lady Abigail Adams once said, “learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” In other words, we can’t expect that we will learn what we need to learn without enthusiasm for wanting to learn it, or without the persistent effort necessary to learn and demonstrate it in practice.
So what does this mean for your learning and development (L&D) program in the workplace?
It means that companies need to approach learning systematically, by determining what employees both need and want to learn, how they learn, and creating a training model that reflects it. A systematic approach to training (SAT) is a comprehensive and flexible model that defines the responsibilities of a job, the training requirements for it, and how the training should be designed, implemented, and evaluated.
As an employer, it is essential that you are able to equip your workforce with the tools they need to work productively. A systematic approach to training helps facilitate the development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required of employees in order for the organization to function effectively and achieve its objectives. The SAT model also ensures that the educational methods and media you use are the most efficient use of your L&D resources.
The SAT model is similar to other operational systems that utilize a continuous improvement approach. The training is designed with a clear idea of what success looks like, involves leadership as well as employees in its planning, and most importantly, evaluates the results in order to ensure the program effectively fulfills its purpose. If the training knowledge is not retained, not applied effectively in practice, or does not resonate with company objectives, then it's back to the drawing board.
How SAT Benefits Your Business
What differentiates the SAT model from others is that it is based on logical conclusions and data rather than personal opinions. The SAT model delivers transformation and lasting change by embracing the entire learning ecosystem and applying clear processes, governance, and management.
A consistent L&D model based on proven results yields tremendous benefits for both employees and employers. Take a look at some of the ways an SAT model can benefit your business:
Increases Internal Mobility and Agility
An ongoing training program increases your employees’ ability to work cross-department and quickly fill in gaps when a business problem arises. This ability allows your company to operate in a more agile fashion and quickly adapt to change, a valuable trait this day in age. The flexibility that training can provide also gives employees a chance to develop necessary skills to apply for new future roles.
Empowers Employees and Boosts Engagement
Employees who feel empowered at work feel a greater sense of autonomy, value, and confidence. Thanks to continuous training programs that take into consideration individual needs and desires, employees are empowered through training and experience a greater sense of workplace autonomy as a result. They are more equipped to perform their jobs independently, increasing their sense of purpose, satisfaction, and engagement.
Increases Ability to Retain Talent
The “war for talent” that emerged during the heart of COVID and continues to persist makes it all the more essential for companies to do whatever they can to reduce employee turnover. The ability to retain talent is a major challenge for employers, but by focusing on creating clear paths of career development, companies give themselves a competitive advantage when hiring.
Offering career development initiatives increases employee engagement and loyalty to the company, which can reduce your turnover rate by 59%. According to a 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, a whopping 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if there is investment in their learning and development. In addition, by offering clear development paths you boost your employer brand and reputation, increasing your ability to attract new talent.
Builds Relationships and Increases Collaboration
L&D programs that incorporate cross-departmental training or “apprenticeship” style training provides greater opportunities for employees throughout different departments to work together and understand each other’s roles. This helps employees to build relationships throughout the company where they otherwise may have had only limited contact. This increased collaboration makes employees feel more connected and can further boost engagement levels and retention rates.
Maximizes Performance and Productivity
Paul J. Meyer, a pioneer in the personal development industry, said that “productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” As you might expect, an SAT model committed to exactly that is going to maximize the performance and productivity of your workforce and organization as a whole. When employees undergo training, it improves their skills and knowledge of the job and builds their confidence in their abilities so that they can work more efficiently and effectively - generating an overall increase in overall productivity.
Systematic training models can be highly effective for inspiring new levels of innovation within your organization. By exposing your employees to new skills and knowledge, they are more easily able to come up with new and innovative ideas and best practices. Companies most well-known for their level of innovation are dedicated to fostering cultures of continuous learning within their organizations.
How to Implement a Systematic Training Model
Learning is like building a house. The house must first have a frame and a foundation, then it is built up piece by piece. But you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint. Similarly, you can’t build a training framework without a clear understanding of your company’s ultimate objectives. Training programs should be linked with your organization’s goals and be supported by tangible and/or intangible KPIs. What strategies are necessary to achieve these goals? This information should be laid out in a training and development roadmap.
To create an SAT model for your business, follow the steps outlined below:
1. Identify Training Needs
The first step to building an effective SAT model is to identify and define your organization’s training needs. Why is training needed? Have you noticed dips in productivity? Do you wish to increase internal mobility within the company? Are retention rates an issue? Again, these should correlate with your business’s strategic objectives.
It’s important that your objectives also outline what success looks like. What will trainees have learned by the end of the training program? How will new knowledge and skills be measured when applied to their work? Outlining specific training objectives ensures that you have a way of measuring the effectiveness of the training after it's completed, and offers insight into where you need to make adjustments to improve. This is important to ensure your program has a good return on investment.
In addition, it's important to determine the process for who will receive training and how the training will be approved. For example, will training that prepares employees for possible future positions be approved or only training that applies to their current position? Of course technical and soft skills training is important, but what about training that helps employees with more general skills like stress or time management?
Once that is settled, it’s time to identify what your employees need to get out of training and who needs it. This is done in a number of ways:
- Conduct a Training Needs Assessment
A training needs assessment highlights the gap between existing competencies and desired competencies. This will help to assess if there are discrepancies between what an employee is capable of doing versus what they are currently doing. Don’t forget to get insight directly from employees. An employee may need to acquire certain skills based on an assessment of their current role, but may wish to pursue something different altogether. Consider training for future roles as well if you aim to improve internal mobility and retention rates.
- Identify Groups of Needs
Identify groups of employees within the company that need training. This can be done by studying and observing employee performance to determine if certain employees or groups of employees are regularly failing to meet the basic standards. To determine the standards required, develop SOPs for each operational task.
- Consult with leadership and employees
Consult with supervisors to determine any additional areas in which training is lacking and the issues that have resulted from it. Employees should also have a say, as they are most affected by shortcomings in the training and can provide insight into what the training lacks and what they need to improve performance.
2. Design Your Training Strategy
After training needs have been determined and the training and development objectives have been defined, it’s time to choose a training method and outline the training strategy. This stage of the process will require you to weigh and consider many possible training methods and determine which is the most suitable to achieve your objectives and reap the most benefits.
There are many different training methods to consider and ways in which to deliver them. They can be online-based, in-person, or a mix of both. They can also be group, individual, self-paced, etc. It’s important to keep in mind that an organization is made up of a variety of individuals who have different ways of thinking and learning, as well as different motivations that drive them.
This variety is an asset to the company, but because of the diversity present in any workforce, a blanket approach of a single training method will not necessarily prove effective for every employee in every department. Managers must be diligent in their approach and advise and develop employees with their individual needs and strengths in mind. Poor management in this area can have a negative impact on employee productivity.
Some different training approaches you can consider are: lectures, orientations, case studies, role playing, simulations, computer-based training, team-building exercises, audiovisual training, self-instruction, and apprenticeships (to name a few). You will likely need to implement several different methods based on the employees and their roles. Once you have selected your training methods, you will need to identify the critical learning points of each training and gather the resources needed to execute it.
3. Deliver Training Strategy
Once your training programs have been designed, it’s time to implement the training strategy within your organization. You will need to communicate the training to your employees and motivate them to engage with the training program. You can do so by launching a campaign with relevant statistics and insights that show employees how they can benefit.
Time is also an issue for many employees, according to a 2020 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, half of all employees claim they don’t have the time to spare for learning. Because employees are busy with day-to-day responsibilities they may feel guilty for using time for L&D. This is why it is essential that employers encourage employees by fostering a culture of learning within the organization.
4. Assess Training Results
Between delivering the training strategy and assessing the results, the skills and knowledge learned in training will need to be leveraged in the trainees’ work. Refer back to objectives of the training and how they should be measured. How effective was the training? Could the quality be improved?
You should evaluate your training program regularly including its methods, reach, and results. Have you reached all employees you intended to reach? What percentage of employees have taken advantage of the program? Have supervisors noticed an improvement in performance or morale? It is also good to garner feedback from trainees after they have completed the training, and from other employees who did not find out why they chose to abstain.
It’s important that your training delivers results to demonstrate a return on investment. Results may not always be quantifiable, but qualitative measurements can be obtained via employee feedback.
Digital Tools to Support Your Systematic Training Model
There are many digital resources available to help you implement an SAT model in your organization. Thanks to AI and other learning technologies, many tools can lessen the workload for your training professionals. With easier implementation of the programs, leaders can focus more on promoting the programs, driving engagement, and other strategic initiatives.
A good learning management system (LMS) allows you to create and deliver course materials, provides easy registration for students, tracks and analyzes user data, provides performance-based tasks, and has sufficient communication channels for the instructor and learner.
Knolyx is a cloud-based training system which allows companies to create and manage online and offline training courses for their employees, partners, and customers. Alternatively, Looop is an online learning platform (LMS) that makes it easy to create and publish learning resources for your workplace or organization.
Looking for more learning and development solutions? Just check your HR Tech Stack, many tools for things like productivity monitoring, business intelligence, time tracking, and remote worker monitoring can be leveraged in order to help you determine training needs, design, and effectiveness.
In fact, a lot of solutions designed for managing remote employees can yield significant valuable data to help facilitate training programs. For example, remote employee monitoring software, though originally designed as software to track work from home, can be used for more than just that. This software can offer insight into the way your employees work, when they work, and the tools they use. This can help you when attempting to determine training methods for groups of employees with similar habits.
Also, remote staff monitoring tools usually contain other valuable features like remote employee time tracking, which can be used for in-office employees as well and can offer insight into how much time employees spend on different tasks. This can be a valuable metric for evaluating the effectiveness of training on an employee’s work.