Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Since the dawn of time, methods have existed for training employees to perform new or unfamiliar tasks. From facilitating mentorship between highly competent colleagues and other employees to developing user manuals for technical skills, most companies already have the resources necessary to train their workforce.
But the question arises: Why are companies now choosing to develop new-era on-the-job training programs?
Adaptability is crucial in the modern business world. New platforms, markets and technologies appear to emerge every quarter, making each new venture risky, because the environment is susceptible to change at any moment.
A rise in the number of employees working remotely or through a hybrid model has necessitated these rapid changes in the workplace and industries. Even if a company can adjust its goals and strategy to accommodate these changes, it is an entirely different challenge to ensure that its employees have the skills necessary to adapt rapidly.
Related: 6 Ways to Keep Your Employees Learning At Work
How are companies utilizing technology to create innovative on-the-job training programs?
Companies incorporate technology into training programs in a variety of ways. Three of the most innovative include:
Opening up future-oriented education to all:
Offering free training via the internet is part of a larger movement to make information readily available and empower individuals to determine their futures. From Khan Academy to YouTube tutorials, it is evident that the internet is revolutionizing education, particularly skill-based education.
Companies have noted this change. They have begun offering skill-based training programs to talented individuals outside the organization.
TheSoul Publishing is an example of a company that has previously opened up its on-the-job training programs to offer educational experiences to everyone. It transformed its internal Boost Academy into three future-focused camps open to the public. This allowed TheSoul to provide practical training methods that have helped individuals learn skills such as social media management, animation and video production.
Immersive training utilizes the power of next-generation technology to develop human-centered on-the-job training programs. They are individualized and do not assume that all employees learn in the same manner and at the same rate.
Immersive technologies combine the physical and digital worlds, including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). This technology enhances the elements of the most effective forms of on-the-job training, such as gamified online platforms and demonstrator videos aimed at particular skills.
Additionally, VR and AR experiences increase employee engagement to new heights. Employees participate in a hands-on, practical manner by manipulating objects in a digital environment. Thus, employees can perform tasks independently while being permitted to make mistakes from which they can learn and enhance their skills.
A 700-page training manual with a mile-long table of contents may be exhaustive, but it is not engaging for employees.
Another complication is that it is becoming increasingly common for new employees to be onboarded without ever setting foot in a company’s office — if the company even has a physical office space. Companies have started re-onboarding employees in response to the rapid technological change occurring across all industries to ensure they can utilize the new technologies they have implemented.
Companies can make training significantly more engaging, exciting and digestible by leveraging the dynamic and integrated nature of the latest tools. Employers can ensure employees are truly absorbing and contextualizing content by incorporating entertaining and informative videos and gamification into their programs.
Related: Gamified Training: An Infallible Way For Employee Engagement
How on-the-job training programs can benefit from new technologies
Workforces become progressively more flexible:
New technology permits the company-wide implementation of more effective training programs. Digital methods for teaching employees skills are significantly less expensive than traditional, pre-pandemic methods.
A workforce can become flexible and adaptable to whatever the business world throws at it if training is facilitated at the level of the individual employee and the entire organization.
When you have well-trained employees, the attitude that “this is not really part of my job” will disappear. Although you shouldn’t train each employee to do everything, training can expand an employee’s capabilities beyond the minimum requirements of their initial role. When it comes to unfamiliar tasks, the “no-can-do” philosophy disappears. Instead, employees ask, “Where can I learn how to do this?”
Then a new issue arises: Employees wonder, “Will my boss be upset if I take the time to educate myself?” Therefore, companies must foster an environment in which employees are encouraged and empowered to pursue additional on-the-job training so that employees feel comfortable acquiring new skills. It produces long-term benefits for both the employer and the employee.
Progress evaluation is streamlined:
When it comes to ensuring that employees comprehend complex technical procedures, adhere to essential guidelines and comply with health and safety protocols, companies must do more than simply provide lengthy documents and assume that employees will retain all the information.
This information must be assimilated thoroughly. Companies must determine whether employees have comprehensively understood the topic. Using technology’s adaptability, companies can evaluate an employee’s progress in real-time using multimedia tools such as games, quizzes and videos. The company can then determine if the on-the-job training was effective or if modifications are required.
Related: Where to Deploy Innovative Tech to Create a More Flexible, Engaging Organization
Employers must adopt the philosophy that if you continue to train, teach and develop your employees, you will always have the most qualified candidates in the roles — this is especially beneficial if the company’s industry makes it challenging to recruit skilled workers.
On the other hand, this type of philosophy is also attractive to potential employees who not only want to get paid, but also want to develop their own sets of skills via the on-the-job training opportunities the company provides. Improving and expanding access to skill-based training will always benefit both employers and employees.