Blog Post

3 On-the-Job Learning Tools for the New World of Work

Bill Cushard

Director of Marketing, ServiceRocket

Employee turnover remains one of the hidden -- but increasingly significant -- costs of running a successful business. A company will spend as much as double a position's annual compensation to hire and train a new employee, according to the American Management Association. But with 91 percent of millenials expecting to stay in a job for less than three years, it begs the question why companies bother to invest in training and career development in the first place.

The answer, of course, is that employers that don't support learning in the workplace become obsolete faster than a 14.4 baud dial-up modem. Rackspace, an IT hosting company based in Texas, understands this and has pledged to solve its skills gap through formal training. But this is not the only option.

Developing and retaining employees also requires an informal approach. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials believe that access to technology and resources make them more effective at work. They also expect continuous feedback on their performance, and they want to feel like they are advancing rapidly. Here are three ways companies can help employees learn and grow in the new world of work.

Mobile Performance Support

Mobile performance support is about helping employees solve problems using the devices they carry around with them all of the time. An employee faced with a challenge isn't looking for more training. She wants ideas anytime, anywhere -- whether she emails or calls someone, searches Google or asks an open question on LinkedIn or Twitter. Companies should shift investments from formal training programs to ensuring employees have access to the support services available on mobile devices, whether they be PDFs, video, text messaging, mobile webpages or native applications.

Continuous Feedback

Performance feedback is underused and underrated, in large part because most managers are uncomfortable critiquing an employee's work. The good news is, millennials welcome and expect regular feedback. They want to know how they are doing today -- not a year from now. Companies should invest in feedback processes that make it easy for people to request feedback and for managers to provide it in such a way that there's an ongoing conversation that gets recorded and is easily accessible.

Rotational Assignments

Millennials also want to advance quickly in their organizations, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Millennials at Work. Rotational assignments are a flexible way to give employees a sense that they are moving towards something and gaining a variety of experiences. The organization benefits because learning is occurring not in a formal training class removed from work, but in the context of actual work.

Don't dismiss formal training altogether. Formal courses are an important part of developing employee skills, especially during on-boarding. But formal training cannot keep up with the demand to learn new skills constantly and quickly. Companies must embrace an informal development model in which employees have 24/7 access to the resources they need, get regular feedback, and rotate through jobs to gain new experiences.

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