5 ways workplace learning can help solve the productivity puzzle

Posted on Oct 20, 2017

Learning strategies

If ever there was a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ story for UK business, it’s the news that productivity is dropping again, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The continuing downward trend has prompted the independent fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), to downgrade its estimates of the UK’s potential productivity growth.

This so-called ‘productivity puzzle’ comes at a time of low unemployment and longer hours worked, causing some economists to scratch their heads over the causes.

The productivity equation: The amount of output produced per hour worked

However, while there are a number of reasons for the disappointing figures for the second quarter of 2017, some analysts have been quick to point to the lack of investment in workplace training and technology as a factor. Indeed, the OBR says in its report that “very weak” business investment is partly to blame.

According to reports in the media, the lack of skills investment is across all levels of business, from training leaders to upskilling the workforce, leading to bad management and staff who aren’t fulfilling their potential. And there’s a stark warning that unless organisations start to invest more in their people and technology, they can wave goodbye to growth for the foreseeable future.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 5 areas where modern workplace learning solutions can boost productivity.

1. Leadership: The key to success

A Towards Maturity report, Excellence in Leadership Development, found that higher achieving organisations had several things in common, including digital learning for their leaders that was rich in immersive, interactive and engaging content. These leaders were also three times as likely to use mobile devices to support learning, allowing access to knowledge 24/7.

Read more: Organisations who train their leaders are higher achievers

Real-life example: Interactive video delivers leadership training results

2. Learning technologies: Use the wow factor to recruit the best people

Employers are competing against each other to recruit talent. Using learning technologies during the recruitment process will give you the edge. But technology isn’t just about showing off. By enabling realistic ‘tests’ during recruitment, you’re more likely to recruit the most suitable candidate. VR or affordable mobile VR are good examples of how you can place applicants into a virtual workplace environment. A pilot study by Sponge showed 90% would feel valued by an employer that offered VR in training.

Read more: Add the wow factor to recruitment with VR

Real-life example: Mobile VR

3. Digital onboarding: Giving new hires the best start

Almost a quarter of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days. It’s costly in terms of cash and lost productivity. An inspiring induction, however, ensures new employees are up and running and confidently contributing to productivity almost immediately. Digital onboarding and pre-boarding has reach, consistency and flexibility.

Read more: 6 benefits of digital onboarding and Learning reinforcement and onboarding

Real-life example: New hires make an impact before Day 1 thanks to serious game

4. Continuous learning: Driving engagement and improvement all the time

To have a knowledgeable, constantly improving workforce there should be no gaps in learning. Advances in technology allows for continuous learning that fits into the working day. Personalised and adaptive learning technology, microlearning and game-based learning provide relevant, memorable knowledge that enables ongoing upskilling.

Read more: Using technology to support continuous learning

Real-life example: Increasing pharma sales with continuous learning

5. An organisational learning culture: The way to retain talent

A learning culture embeds talent management across the organisation and is a must in an era when recruiting and retaining talent is increasingly tricky. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says there are six stages to the talent management journey: Attract, identify, develop, engage, retain, deploy.

Read more: Six chances not to miss on talent management, with examples

There is no single or instant solution to the productivity puzzle. However, it’s clear that effective workplace training is an essential part of the fix – and it’s something that L&D can make happen.

Ask an expert

Liam O’Meara, Head of Sales & Marketing, Sponge

Liam has worked with some of world’s biggest brands to create programmes that embed leadership throughout the organisation by leveraging digital learning.

He has worked in a variety of sectors including pharmaceuticals, automotive, manufacturing, distribution and retail.

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