remote worker

Learning in the New Normal: Employee Training Methods

The employee training process for a new position, business direction or department, is typically a complex and time consuming process. COVID has changed everything about this process, forcing it to go digital overnight – and simultaneously highlighting severe deficits in material and methods. Remote employees often feel isolated and forgotten by their enterprise, leading to a decrease in engagement, productivity and motivation. It’s up to enterprises to ensure this doesn’t happen, forcing many businesses to adapt to provide good employee learning options in the new normal, with new and more interactive digital training methods. Let’s explore a few ways to provide a great training experience that will set even remote employees up for success, and give them a sense of ownership in the business.

Prioritize Communication

Daily communication, even for more independent remote workers, is vital to success. The most confident remote workers may find too much communication tiresome – but all remote employees will ultimately develop a sense of community through regular communication. Focus on communicating information that is important to employee job performance, while keeping them up to date on any changes in the company that will affect their position.  Keep the lines of communication open by respecting the employee’s time, keeping communication friendly and to the point, and not overburdening remote employees with meetings, emails and calls about issues unrelated to their position. 

Set Clear Expectations

Distracted office employees were once easier to corral and redirect, as they strolled from desk to desk, sat in the break-room or luxuriated on smoke-breaks. You might think that remote employees working from home are suffering from many more distractions, but studies show that remote workers are 35-40% more productive than their in-office peers – meaning setting clear and actionable expectations is even more important for this highly independent and productive employee subset. The best way to do this, and track it’s successes, is to provide a platform to help employees receive, track and organize tasks from home, and help managers follow the process without constant calls and emails to the employee.

Recognize Good Work

Remote employees (or any employee for that matter) shouldn’t require a trophy for getting their work done, but recognizing good work is critical to maintaining employee satisfaction and longevity, especially when employees aren’t in the office to see the fruits of their labour. A quick email or message saying “good work” or “this was just what we needed,” goes a long way toward keeping your employees encouraged, and makes them feel informed and connected. Don’t fall into the terrible management trend of only reaching out to employees when they’ve not met expectations – you can assume if your first or second communication is a scolding, the employee didn’t get enough information from you to complete the task successfully, making you a barrier to their success and happiness rather than a stepping stone to better things. 

Continue Corporate Training

Instructional design is quickly becoming a cornerstone of successful employee training methods. While training once required note-taking materials and a trainer (or a poorly-produced and dated video), employees now expect and deserve a well thought out and effective training program. By designing, creating and producing instructional content in a variety of formats, you can simplify the training process and keep the attention of your employees. Corporate training material should be updated or produced as business needs change, should consider the needs of learners, set goals and benchmarks, provide employee evaluation methods, and have a method to evaluate the ultimate success of the program, all elements found in the process of instructional design.

Encourage Work/Life Balance

When has moving from the kitchen to the couch created a total sense of disconnection from what was happening in the kitchen? Even if you can’t still see what’s happening in there, you can certainly hear, taste or smell it. People love the idea of remote work because they believe they can achieve a better work/life balance if they work from home – but this has proven to be a fallacy. 22% of remote workers report having issues disconnecting from work after hours, 19% suffer from loneliness, and 17% feel communication is lacking between their home office and in-office colleagues or managers. Managers must encourage employees to guard their free time jealousy, and should encourage them to have more outside activities after work hours. Avoid sending non-critical assignments on weekends, after hours or on holidays – and remote employees – close down your computer after work hours and log out of work email.

Demonstrate a Collaborative Culture

If you make your employees feel like a cog in a wheel that just keeps on turning, their work will reflect this lack of project ownership. It’s difficult to feel like a part of the decision making process as a remote employee, which creates frustration and a lack of satisfaction in the job. It’s important for businesses to engage all their employees by insisting they be part of policy and goal creation, creating a collaborative work culture and a sense of ownership for everyone. No one expected a new normal. We were ok with the old normal, right? But now that COVID has changed the world, we are lucky to see a very interesting and, ideally, positive shift in working culture across the world. It’s more important than ever to prepare your employees, remote and in-house, for success, by keeping them educated, engaged and an important part of the day-to-day work process. Make sure your employee training game is strong and learn how to make the new normal the best normal yet.

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