If there were an easy way to increase employee productivity by 10% using the technology that you already have in place, would you do it?
What would that do to the bottom line? A 10% gain would be significant for most organizations. In this day and age when all departments are competing for budget and every dollar of technology investment must be justified, companies should not overlook training as a means to boost employee productivity and the ROI of existing technology investments.
Too few employees truly know how to use the applications they have available effectively. A perfect example is Excel with its powerful analysis and reporting features. Yet we fail to apply basic productivity features built into the current version. What features of Excel do you use now that you didn’t use in 2003?
Most people don’t have an answer for that.
Another example is Outlook. It has some amazing features to boost productivity but few people know how to take advantage of them. Just think, if you knew about tools that could save you 10 minutes per day, that would be about an hour per week or 50 hours per year. What could you do with an extra 50 hours?
With 20 employees, that’s 1,000 hours in productivity gain. So for 30-minute investment, you could gain 999.5 hours, is it worth it?
And that’s just Outlook. Imagine if you could multiply that for every app your company uses.
Even where some level of training in core applications is provided to new employees, we know that very little is actually absorbed in early training. And much of IT training is focused on what buttons to press in what sequence to get a job done; very little seems to focus on how to use all the technology together as part of a productive business process.
As IT budgets have been squeezed over the years some companies have moved technology training out of IT and into HR. But HR is not directly impacted by untrained staff in the way IT is, often resulting in weak measurements of success such as how many employees have been trained, or employee satisfaction measures, and not actually measuring the employee’s ability to use the technology. How do you measure your employees ability to use your technology?
In addition, poor training increases the burden on IT support services and reduces overall employee satisfaction with technology as a support for getting their job done, putting the success of IT at risk.
One option is for companies to re-focus IT resources on technology training as a way of reducing support costs and increasing employee satisfaction with IT. At the risk of repeating things we all know, here are ten proven steps in developing an effective training program:
- Make training the responsibility of the manager in charge of the help desk. After all, the more effective training is, the fewer calls they receive. So there’s an automatic incentive in place. Also, the help desk knows what applications cause the most problems. They’ll also know which employees need the most training.
- Do training programs inside business units. With increased employee productivity and satisfaction, wouldn’t your business units be willing to pay for effective training and development of the staff?
- Identify areas of business process where training is needed to use the applications effectively. And there may be potential system modifications that yield productivity benefits.
- Focus on how technology changes the business processes and train the employees how to be productive with the new services. Measure employee skill levels in applications post-training for effectiveness and if follow-up training is needed.
- Provide open productivity classes on Cloud Tools and Microsoft Office such as Outlook, Word and Excel then collect and share testimonials on how the classes helped increase productivity. This will provide buy-in for other employees to want to do the training.
- Develop supplemental training materials and emails to provide ongoing advice with tips and tricks for each application that also encourage employees to share their own insights. Perhaps create videos to supplement training and explain common problems faced by most employees.
- Promote training through lunch and learns.
- Avoid frequent mistakes by making training and communications the core of the business.
What suggestions do you have from your own experience?
Which of the above do you feel have the greatest impact?