There are many barriers to engaging new staff properly. An increasingly dispersed workforce poses coordination difficulties. Time-poor employees are also becoming the norm. On top of this, a team of staff also brings with it varied talents and skillsets, and creating room for this diversity brings its own challenges.

All of these factors need to be considered from the get-go – during the onboarding experience. If employers develop and train their staff, accounting for potential constraining factors but also aptitude and potential, they will be well placed in the professional development of their staff.

Challenges to overcome

At ELMO, the challenges we’ve faced in implementing development programs are common to many multi-site businesses.

Coordinating development programs and including all staff across different time zones in Australia and New Zealand can be difficult. Recently it was suggested to me that the simple act of acknowledging New Zealand time on circulated promotional material adds a feeling of value to employees. It’s a simple act of inclusion that costs nothing.

We also need to consider the use of web conferencing tools and people’s skills in using them when delivering to multi-site locations. A tip that I learnt a long time ago is to ensure you are looking into the camera, not at the screen, making eye contact with the off-site participants. This and other basic communication skills such as asking each site for input at some stage, as you would those within the room, builds engagement.

We all know the feeling of having no time, being scattered, and the never ending ‘to-do list’. The challenge here is how do we encourage employees to attend development programs knowing that this is valuable time out of their workday? Unfortunately, there isn’t just one answer to this. However, the most effective way to overcome this issue is buy-in from the top down. Management must acknowledge the time deficit while encouraging the attendance of development programs.

Employees should be encouraged to block out time to learn in their calendars and stick to it, whether this be attending a group session or self-learning. I have heard of some businesses using visual cues such as high-vis vests or desk flags to indicate that the person is participating in learning time. If a person has the visual cue present, it indicates that they are not to be interrupted. They should also be encouraged to turn off notifications on all electronic mail or messenger platforms.

Employee development programs are also generally not a one-size-fits-all solution and need to remain relevant to all staff. Often in a group session, there are people with varied knowledge levels and this can overwhelm participants, perhaps leaving some feeling inadequate. Hence the use of self-learning or one-on-one coaching – both of which can be more effective in providing relevant content.

We’ve found this works best in combination with informal discussion around shared values and strengths-based development to heighten shared relevance in teams. By raising awareness of an individual’s values and strengths, all staff learn to better appreciate their differences.

How can employers properly onboard staff?

In most organisations, all processes need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, particularly those around onboarding and training. Statistically, it is shown that employees are more likely to stay with a company long term if have a positive onboarding experience.

ELMO has undergone exponential growth in 2019, with a large volume of new starters across Australia and New Zealand. To better understand the needs of our growing workforce we recently conducted a Learning and Development survey.

The results of this survey found that although new starters felt warmly welcomed, the onboarding was considered generic. It was noted that new starters would benefit from more detailed information on how their role contributes to business solutions.

The survey also asked if employees were encouraged to undertake self-learning and almost half of respondents felt that encouragement was provided. This demonstrates the need for the continuous promotion of self-learning as a professional development pathway. The provision of meaningful training was shown to increase employee retention.

The benefits of ELMO’s Learning Management System (LMS) for employees

The use of our LMS system has made a huge difference to our staff. Delivering learning and development for assigned courses both at the onboarding stage and within the Emerging Leaders Program has improved professional development. Employees can also self-enrol in learning modules that are of interest to them as part of their ongoing self-learning. Using the LMS allows staff to consume learning in smaller chunks that fit around their schedule.

The use of an LMS for learning and development initiatives has many benefits, including:

  • Access to resources – With employees across Australia and New Zealand it is important that learning resources are housed in one central location. This ensures continuity of learning materials for employees.
  • Progress tracking – Enrolments, progress and completions are easily tracked for all employees. This benefits the team member and management in keeping track of professional development for performance appraisals.
  • Schedule retraining – The ELMO LMS schedules retraining, sending employees reminders that a learning module needs to be repeated. This is particularly helpful for continuous improvement and compliance.

Just as critically, an LMS enables updates to be made as required, ensuring content is up-to-date and relevant to the changing needs of the business. Another plus of using an LMS is reporting – for example, reporting on buy-in to learning initiatives across the business, at divisional or individual levels.

Looking to improve the onboarding and development experience for your staff? Find out more about ELMO’s end-to-end, ‘hire to retire’ software suite, including our Learning Management System and Onboarding module. Contact us to request a demo.

This article was written by Jayne Bachelor, Learning and Development Manager at ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll.

Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.
Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.