Employees are more likely to stay with organisations who invest in their training and development, with 84% of workers saying they are more committed to an employer who invests in their professional growth.
A recent report by Dell Technologies predicts that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. A prediction that is both exciting and ominous for organisations across the globe. Innovative technology is fueling rapid change and the contact centre is no exception, with advancements changing the way customers interact. The incorporation of technologies such as AI-powered chatbots, ChatGPT, GPT-4, advanced speech recognition, conversational AI, AI supported scripting, and increased digital design, are transforming the way contact centres operate and service customers.
As these technology advancements continue to transform contact centres, the one certainty is that the importance and demand on human skills will increase. Empathy, problem-solving, EQ and effective communication, will be essential to build lasting customer relationships and drive service excellence. The work a contact centres human workforce needs to handle will change, however many customers still want to interact with a human agent for complex issues, for emotionally charged situations, or to build connection.
So, what does this mean when it comes to building those human skills, strengthening capabilities, and investing in people? Learning and development strategies have never been as important as they are now. They are essential to help organisations prepare for an uncertain future, and to ensure that companies are in a position to give customers the level of human touch they expect, but also as a way to engage workforce.
Employees are more likely to stay with organisations who invest in their training and development, with 84% of workers saying they are more committed to an employer who invests in their professional growth, and 70% confirming they would look elsewhere for work if training opportunities were lacking and/or not available.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO RETHINK YOUR LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY?
- Create a growth mindset culture in your workplace, where continuous learning, growth and development are fostered. A growth mindset culture encourages employees to embrace challenges, learn from mistakes, and constantly improve their skills and abilities.
- Have a dual model learning and development strategy that considers both soft and hard skills. Hard skills, or the technical skills required to do the job are a necessary component of your organisations training program. These hard skills ensure your staff have the practical understanding and ability to perform their job. You invest heavily in hard skills when you have new employees or when your workloads change for existing employees. Ensuring you have a clear strategy for soft skills will make the biggest different to your workforce. Soft skills are crucial for how your employees interact and work with others, and enable them to build rapport, trust, and empathy with your customers.
- Continuous Learning. A great learning and development strategy includes a focus on continuous learning which involves providing employees with opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis, rather than just in response to immediate needs. Build development plans in performance agreements and ensure conversations with your people focus on understanding goals, career aspirations and assessing current capabilities. A strong learning and development strategy will include a framework that supports continuous learning.
- Leadership development. Key to building the culture and engagement that allows your learning and development program to be a key component of your employee offer, is the leadership supporting it. This means your leadership development program is crucial to the success of all other learning and development. Most organisations have some form of corporate leadership programs, these will often be generic in nature, however, will provide some foundation leadership requirements. A strong learning and development strategy will include ways to access tailored, targeted and specific leadership courses that align to your environment and the gaps of the individual. Building this leadership capability is ongoing and requires continued investment.
- Realistic time investment. It takes on average 40 days for people to integrate learnings from training into their day to day roles, so organisations need to rethink how quickly they move staff through training. Getting this right will be a game changer when it comes to the confidence and readiness of your employees, and contributes to retention, engagement and customer outcomes. Once the hard skills have been built, create a follow up program that reinforces learning, invest in smaller, more regular training, followed by the time to practice newfound skills.
- Visibility of formal and informal learning and development. Not all the learning and development your people access will be through formal training sessions, and it is crucial that you build visibility of on-the-job training, peer learning, and buddying type activities as essential elements of your learning and development strategy. Your staff are learning all the time, so ensure your organisation has a culture of supporting learning, development and engagement to nurture this.
- Partnered Delivery. Organisations cannot afford to cater to every learning need of their employees, and building internal learning and development functions that do cover every aspect of your business needs is cost prohibitive to get right. Identify partners in the industry that you can work with to access industry specific or functional training options. Industry partners will have updated courses, regularly delivered that is often more cost effective and relevant that an inhouse model. Keep abreast of what industry bodies are offering and build this into your learning and development strategies.
- New technology can be leveraged by organisations for learning and development, removing cost and access barriers for geographically dispersed employees. Face to face is no longer the only option and short sharp sessions can mean employees are only stepping out of the workplace for defined periods of time. Balancing learning and development options has never been as easy as it is today with online training programs and support communities.
In a competitive labour market, employees have more choice when it comes to job options, and most consider more than financial remuneration when choosing an organisation to work for. Learning and development is fast becoming a strong contributor to a strategic employee value proposition. Contact centres already struggle with high attrition rates, attraction challenges and somewhat rigid environments, investing in the capability of your people will not only deliver strong business results, but can contribute to creating a long term, visible career pathway for employees.