IT leadership: 3 strategies to build employee development programs

In today's fast-evolving hybrid work environment, it's more important than ever to offer your IT employees professional development opportunities. Consider this expert advice to design a program with impact
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The Mentor CIO

Over the past two years, we’ve experienced a long-term shift into hybrid and remote work, quickly accelerating digital transformation in the workplace. However, the remote work structure and rapid technological advancement have created a challenge for organizations and CIOs alike, particularly when it comes to building training and development programs that stick.

Creating educational development programs that are not only engaging, but also accessible, impactful, and inclusive is the need of the hour. According to a recent study conducted by Accenture, 62 percent of C-level executives were unsure how to utilize insights to develop their workforce in an increasingly digital economy. As organizations aim to close this stark gap in knowledge, here are three critical steps to consider as we move forward into the future of workforce development.

1. Embrace rapidly developing technology

With the pandemic accelerating the speed of technological innovation, there’s a lucrative opportunity to embrace digital experiences and adopt more “experimental” training program channels. As we welcome new digital experiences, it’s critical to assume a risk-tolerant mindset when thinking about workforce education technology.

Moving forward, there’s an increasing opportunity to leverage and develop metaverse and virtual reality (VR) technologies to fully engage employees and users. Walmart, for example, is already using VR headsets to train employees for online ordering at all retail outlets. Additionally, Hyundai and Samsung now utilize metaverse technology to design virtual worlds for recruiting and onboarding that is insightful and realistic.

[ What IT skills will be hot in the year ahead? Read Top IT skills to build in 2020, according to CIOs. ]

Through a new frontier, these technologies have the potential to offer an extremely inviting and customizable experience that’s never been available to organizations before.

2. Prioritize constant upskilling

This speed in innovation has made constant employee reskilling and upskilling even more imperative in order to ensure that workforces are prepared to adapt to constantly changing applications and data-sharing methods. Waiting for employees to teach themselves opens organizations to the risk of a critical data breach or potential inefficiencies in workflow down the road.

When it comes to upskilling, workforce development is not a one-and-done solution.

When it comes to upskilling, workforce development is not a one-and-done solution. Organizations should continuously provide regular workforce development programs for emerging software and applications to stay ahead of evolving tech and cyber threats. This is beneficial to the company from a growth standpoint, as employees learn new platforms and solutions to help optimize the business, and from a risk aversion standpoint, as workers will be trained on ransomware and other necessary threats.

[ Read also: IT talent: 3 tips to kickstart employee career development

3. Know your audience

When it comes to building educational programs that stick, it’s key to keep your viewing audience in mind. Effective programs should be accessible to all and tailored to appeal to different audiences within an organization rather than as a one-size-fits-all solution. Dividing employees by skill level and background, geographical location, or even social metrics such as learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) can bolster the efficacy and long-lasting effects of any educational training program.

Further, targeting your training programs to distinct groups enables more advanced and personalized upskilling opportunities that can be designed to develop and hone specialized and highly valuable skills later.

This is not all smoke and mirrors. A survey by The Harris Poll reveals that 70 percent of U.S employees are at least somewhat likely to leave their current company and accept an offer with an organization that is known for investing in employee training and development. With the evolving challenges organizations now face, workforce retention and maintaining hands-on leadership are of paramount concern.

Retaining and developing your company’s talent and productivity starts with understanding employee needs and everyday challenges that your workforce faces. Now more than ever, it’s critical that business leaders recognize the need for elevated workforce development programs, as underdeveloped and out-of-date training could cost them their talent, and their bottom line.

[Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask.]

Tom Lin currently serves as chief operating officer for AvePoint. An integral member of AvePoint’s executive team, Lin has provided leadership and oversight at the company’s London and Tokyo headquarters and recently served as AvePoint’s chief customer officer and corporate vice president of sales.