Online learning can help businesses remain at the cutting edge
Continuous learning for employees should be seen as a capital investment
Most companies acknowledge the value of continuing education for their employees. It is a straightforward way to ensure staff are up to date on the latest and best ideas, as well as changes in regulations and requirements in a specific industry.
Managers should also recognise that digital technologies can optimise the delivery of continuing education. We advocate providing a mixture of “live” interactive courses that can be attended in a boardroom, via skype or by dialling in with video courses that can be simultaneously deployed to PCs, tablets, and smartphones – enabling learners the flexibility to study at their convenience. By using a blend of classroom-based training and a digital learning environment you can link your staff to experts from inside and outside the business.
For live courses, use online sign-ups and offer participants proactive notifications via email and SMS to alert them if their planned/interested courses have last-minute seats available. In addition, promote online discussions to extend the learning process before and after formal training. Hong Kong banks, for example, could use this format to learn more about blockchain technology or robo-advisory services, relatively new concepts to the financial services world that require educating staff. Insurance providers could use continuous education programmes to teach staff more about how to mine analytics to learn more about what products their customers might be interested in buying.
Continuing education should be fun. Gamification, using scoreboards and competitions is one way to do this. But it should also be available at a person’s own speed – tests at the end of courses that require a 100 per cent score but enable staff to repeat it, ensure workers really get the topic, rather than glazing over it.
Accenture invested US$841 million on learning and professional development in fiscal 2015—delivering 15 million hours of training, at an average of more than 40 hours per employee. Through Connected Learning we’ve made learning continuous, flexible and increasingly democratised. We have built more than 50 connected classrooms that enable people from multiple locations to participate together in interactive and collaborative sessions taught by Accenture’s senior leaders and world-class subject-matter experts. We plan to double the number of its virtual classrooms in fiscal 2016, to more than 100.
We also host more than 24,000 online courses and 900 learning boards — online forums curated by subject matter experts. We have five regional learning centres (or traditional classrooms) including two in Asia (in Bangalore and Kuala Lumpur) and have created more than 100 professional communities, which bring together colleagues around the world who do similar work, such as software engineering, or who specialise in a specific industry, such as banking. Our research on the learning preferences of college students and recent graduates found a strong demand for digital learning, reinforcing the priority leading companies place on building integrated digital learning capabilities and communities.
Walking the talk matters for us, but it should matter for any company. Investing in your staff’s continuing education sends the message that you care about your employees while simultaneously helping to ensure that your business is at the cutting edge of its industry. That’s an obvious win-win solution for all.
Moses Tse is managing director of Accenture’s health and public service practice in Hong Kong