Businesses of all sizes are being forced to adapt fast to changing markets and evolving customer needs. One way to do this is through staff training. Here Panos Kraniotis, Regional Director of Europe at Rosetta Stone discusses the need for upskilling and digital readiness in the face of evolving markets.
Keeping staff skills up-to-date is becoming more and more important, which means organisations need to deliver effective training across an increasingly dispersed workforce. Faced with budget constraints and the need to prove training benefits in the context of the bottom line, many businesses are turning to digital learning to help them build and improve skills so that they can meet key business requirements.
Corporations face a range of diverse training challenges. Workforces are increasingly widespread making scheduling face-to-face training difficult, budgets are tight, and training departments are being called upon to demonstrate a return on training investment and time. Also, employees can lack motivation to build or develop skills, not least because they’re already under time pressure to deliver against their objectives. So much so that, according to recent statistics from Bersin by Deloitte, one per cent of a typical work week is all that employees have for training and development.
Upskilling for global readiness
Stacked up alongside these practical challenges of training delivery are the business challenges that upskilling seeks to address. High up that list is equipping the organisations to meet the demands of operating in global markets.
Businesses source components, products and services from companies all over the globe and they sell to as many markets too. Yet, despite this, many fail to support their global strategies with employee language skills. In fact, a recent OCR/Think Global survey revealed that 44 per cent of employers in London are affected by a lack of workers with foreign language skills; a significant issue for the capital but also one for the 28 per cent of companies UK-wide who said the same.
This skills shortage directly impacts companies’ performance and potential for growth. So much so, that the British Council estimates there are “tens of billions in missed trade and business opportunities every year”.
These trade opportunities can be missed because, without clear communication, international negotiations can be hampered, barriers can exist when building relationships with customers and cross-border team collaboration within the company may be less successful. All these things can directly impact a company’s chances of winning and retaining business, as well as its ability to operate effectively.
On the flip side, employees that can engage with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders in their own language stand to be more efficient and effective in their role. Not only that, they will be more confident in their interactions too. This makes for motivated and highly prized staff who may wish to broaden their horizons by working for the company overseas, thus bringing their experience to bear in other markets and making a valued contribution to the company’s growth.
Adopting a digital mindset
Digital solutions are being implemented across all industries to improve operations and increase efficiency. Similarly, a digital mindset can be adopted to address the challenges of workplace training.
Digital training solutions can suit companies with geographically dispersed workforces; those that are trying to achieve a consistent skills level across teams working in different time zones and with a varied starting level of ability. Offering a range of content types including video, quizzes and the ability to interact in real-time with tutors and other learners, today’s digital learning platforms can keep employees motivated and engaged. Suitable for use on mobile devices as well as PCs and laptops, the training can fit into the schedule of the mobile workforce and be tapped into when convenient. It’s a more flexible learning regime than one built solely around lecture-style learning.
It’s important that training be flexible to employees’ learning needs as well as to their time. Technology-based training can assess a learner’s capabilities upfront, assign a suitable course path and adapt the speed and type of content delivery according to progress and the individual’s unique learning style.
For languages, this is ideal. Some learners may thrive at vocabulary but struggle with pronunciation; others may be able to understand what they read very well but find written grammar a challenge. The beauty of an interactive program such as Rosetta Stone Catalyst, for example, is that it can use speech recognition to correct pronunciation and offer online tutoring with native speakers for conversational practice.
Measuring the results
With digital learning, meeting the needs of learners does not come at the expense of those of the administrators. A successful program recognises the significant investment that training represents for a business and assists those whose task it is to demonstrate the return with robust and flexible reporting.
For large companies, coming to an understanding of training achievements starts with centralised reporting. If training is controlled department by department, it is hard to arrive at a pan-company view of success. Today’s digital programs address this with centralised reports that track engagement and progress and that can be drilled down into to provide a departmental or individual view. By measuring against learning outcomes, it is simple to determine when an employee, or department, has achieved a goal and is ready to progress to the next level. Many of our enterprise customers at Rosetta Stone tell us that this is one of the most important features they look for when evaluating digital learning solutions.
Offering such benefits of robust measurement, the personalisation of engaging content and flexible delivery, digital learning can provide an all-round learning experience and help companies struggling to bridge a skills gap. It’s not surprising therefore, that 90 per cent of companies expect their investment in digital learning platforms and content to increase or stay the same over 2017 according to Fosway Group. However, this area still suffers from under-investment and, according to Towards Maturity, 61 per cent of learning and development professionals are failing to achieve significant progress in meeting their goals of a digitally enabled learning strategy.
As corporations of all sizes and types grapple to match a training solution to their learning as well as their business needs, it’s more important than ever that they up the ante on digital learning. For language skills in particular – as companies increasingly operate globally – a convenient approach to training can help build a workforce with the communications skills needed to help businesses perform better.
Through staff proficiency in languages, businesses can reap the rewards of improved interaction with customers, suppliers, third parties and within their own globally dispersed workforce. Today’s flexible digital learning programmes can provide the convenient, effective and measurable way for companies to plug their skills gaps.