If you’re a training manager for a large corporation or you’re leading a team of a few individuals in a small business, you likely pivoted in the last year about virtual professional development (PD) offerings. Today’s remote work environment means any training or PD must be online. And US workers are 70 percent more likely to leave their current employer if they know another employer invests in workers’ development.
Figuring out how to include it into your new remote work environment isn’t hard once you know best practices. Thanks to advanced technology and some savvy developers, providing virtual PD lets your staff choose when and where it’s most convenient for them. Offering virtual PD is good for your employees and good for your business, regardless of its size.
Here are best practices to help you reduce the learning curve.
Talk to your employees
With team members spread out, sometimes in other countries, you need to approach the problem creatively. The best way is to talk to everyone to figure out first what they need and expect. This might mean one-on-one discussions with your employees to review their performance goals to see if anything needs updated. Take the time to understand their goals, what they want to do moving forward, and where they feel they need the most instruction.
Also use surveys to get each team’s thoughts about PD. While striving to offer PD tailored to each individual, some training affects the team as a whole, so any decisions should meet the majority’s needs. For example, if you want your entire team to get a certification, a survey offering several options helps you understand what the team needs to get each individual trained. The days of a full day of in-house training for the entire team are gone.
Invest in PD technology
Invest in the essential tools, software, and programs to deliver rich training experiences and opportunities to all employees. This may be challenging with workers spread around the globe, but the internet offers an array of choices. From online learning platforms that cater to individuals and corporations to webinars, video conferencing platforms, and more, you have options.
Some teams today are split between in-house and remote workers. The training or presentations you offer need to be easy to consume for both types of employees. Avoid the mistake companies made by neglecting to include a virtual participation option for some.
Fund their training
Funding could be as an annual budget for each employee’s training or a stipend they get monthly or annually to use for courses at their discretion. Then employees choose training, career development, or other educational opportunities that will help them meet their professional goals.
This more flexible option makes sure employees are moving in a direction that interests them, and it works for both remote and in-house team members. When you put the PD training in their hands, you’re empowering them to choose their path instead of providing one for them.
Again, use surveys to find out what types of courses your team is interested in. Then, based on that feedback and each person’s career goals, you can determine an appropriate budget for employees’ PD.
Plan a few in-person events
Networking is still important, especially for remote workers. Look for ways you can bring your entire team together, such as industry conferences and trade conventions. These are great ways to build team rapport and network with others in the industry.
Conferences and conventions help individuals to create those networking connections that enhance their careers. It’s important for every team member to build connections in person. These events also help reinvigorate employees, and gets them charged up about their career or industry, especially those workers who may have felt stagnant or excluded.
Keep training going
With everything that’s going on in our world, some companies haven’t figured out yet if their employees will be permanently remote or if it’s just temporary. You may feel tempted to put your PD training on hold until you know a little more about the future.
This is a mistake. As noted above, 70 percent of employees would jump ship if another company provided its employees with better PD and training. Your workers are your most valuable resource, and it’s important to invest in your assets. It’s also the key to keeping not only your people engaged, fulfilled, and moving forward, but your company focused on the future as well.
Investing in virtual PD helps you, your company, and your team members. You save valuable time and resources with online training offered where and when your employees want them. So, how can you ensure your efforts are meeting or exceeding everyone’s expectations? Create a survey. Measure their engagement. Ask for feedback, and encourage them to reflect on what’s working and what’s not.
Send out professional development course evaluation surveys right after training while it’s fresh on their minds. Use that data to improve your training strategy and make sure everyone is on target. And continue with surveys until everyone agrees about the effectiveness of your virtual PD program.