The “war” for talent will remain the biggest challenge facing companies in 2020.
– Talent Mobility 2020, PwC
The struggle among companies to acquire the best available talent has intensified in recent years, and it’s only going to heat up further in the coming years.
Businesses now work differently, which means that workers now work differently too. In today’s world, it’s survival not of the fittest; it’s survival of the most adaptable.
Into this growing struggle for high-quality employees there now enters an unlikely hero. A figure with the influence to shape the future of business. A figure with the power to drive company growth to dizzying new heights.
We are speaking, of course, of that modern-day alchemist, the company training manager.
Putting hyperbole aside for a moment, it would actually be pretty difficult to overstate how important training managers are to modern enterprises. After all, they’re the ones responsible for developing and retaining a company’s most valuable asset – its employees.
It’s important to note here that when we talk about training managers, we’re not referring to HR personnel who put aside a couple of hours now and then to prepare some training material on company policy or compliance. We’re instead referring to those whose sole focus is on staff development.
It is these managers who hold the key to creating a workforce that’s adaptable and a company culture that supports its employees’ continued growth.
A New Era, A New Workforce
1. Flexibility & Mobility
According to the PwC report quoted at the beginning of this article, the business world is undergoing a significant transformation. Technology and globalisation have made national borders less restrictive and more fluid as teams around the world can connect and collaborate instantly. And when business undergoes a change like this, everything else tends to experience change too: “As multinationals from different countries become global multinationals, we will see a change in the way we work with many implications for workers, families and society in general.”
This increase in the international workforce will lead to a greater demand for flexibility as companies adopt to the needs of a shifting employee demographic. Staff may need to work remotely from home, on a part-time or flexitime schedule, or while traveling or from overseas.
In fact, we are already seeing major workplace changes that point in this direction, with many Fortune 1000 companies investing in completely renovating their spaces to accommodate their employees’ greater mobility. In fact studies suggest that staff at Fortune 1000 companies spend at least half of their time away from their desks.
Indeed, if employee mobility wasn’t something companies generally thought about before, the following stats should give them real cause for reflection:
- The mobile workforce in the US has grown by 103% since 2005.
- 7 million US employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
- The employee population in the US as a whole grew by 1.9% from 2013 to 2014, while the mobile employees’ population grew by 5.6%.
And it is not just a trend specific to the US either. According Infoempleo, a massive 96% of the best companies to work for in Spain in 2016 incorporate telecommuting and flexible schedules for their employees.
This flood of data points towards a demand for greater flexibility on the part of workers as well as the businesses they work for.
The increasingly globablised, mobilised and international workforce has put more pressure on HR departments and training managers to find solutions to their knowledge sharing needs. Which brings us to…
2. Access to Technology
Along with greater mobility – and perhaps even because of it – technology has emerged as the central means by which training managers can acquire, develop and retain the next generation of talented employees.
Considering the fact that Millenials (or Gen Z as they are also known), who were born between 1982 and 2000, have little or no knowledge of a pre-digital world. In fact, studies show that most of them are continuously connected online via laptops or mobile devices. According to a Sparks & Honey report, “digitarians” can and do multi-task across five-screens over the course of a single day.
But what does all this mean for the work environment?
It means that new technologies are an essential part of the lives of the Millennial workforce and access to it is not so much a desire for them as an outright necessity.
This applies to their training and development too. The next generation of workers, and those that follow, will not respond in the same way to conferences, lectures and pen and paper study. They require an active learning experience that incorporates multi-point, real-time collaboration.
Related Article: Why Employee Feedback Needs to be a Loop, Not a Line
Training in the Virtual Workplace
As we have seen, the virtual work environment is rapidly expanding – and it is likely to continue to do so well into the future, especially when we consider the fact that mobile workers show a 13% increase in productivity and are 50% less likely to leave a company than their office-bound peers.
The responsibility of a modern training manager is therefore to understand these new trends and design a training program that can develop and harness the potential of this new generation of workers.
In this sense, digital tools that encourage communication and learning – regardless of geographical boundaries and time zones – are an invaluable aid for training managers as they can enable a flexible, fluid approach to training in the workplace, and beyond it.