By: Samantha Allison on August 17th, 2018

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Top 4 Strategies for Training and Developing Your Remote Workforce

Employee Relations

Today’s workforce is remote and it tends to be the hardest to develop and train due to the lack of personal interactions as face-to-face communication is not always possible. I think we can both agree that having well-trained employees is vital to operating a successful business. Leaders like you often come to us for new and creative ways to stay connected to their employees, and our goal as consultants is to help show you how.

Below are four recommendations to best approach training and development for your remote and billable employees:

1. Determine your organization’s biggest challenges
2. Think outside the box
3. Keep your employees engaged
4. Utilize Learning Management Systems

Determine your organization’s biggest challenges

You can’t get where you want to go until you know where you have been, right? Start by identifying which past practices worked for your organization using a SWOT analysis. What strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats do you need to consider with your training and development strategy? The most common challenges we hear from leaders usually is around time, budget and their dispersed workforce.

If you don’t have a big budget allotted for training and development (which can be the case for smaller government contractors for instance), it becomes important to find cost-effective solutions like the ones listed below:

  • Set one hour aside to grab coffee with your team once a month. If you can’t do it face-to-face, consider holding it over a web-conference like Skype or Zoom. It doesn’t have to be a formal training per se. You can discuss round robin topics, project debriefs, upcoming trends, etc. The point is having consistent ‘face-time’ with senior leadership.
  • Speed Mentoring. This can also be done virtual or in person. Get your leadership team together once every quarter or six months with the employees who sign up, and allow each employee 15 minutes with each leader. Once those 15 minutes are up, they will rotate until they have met with all leaders.
  • Feature a Local Leader Happy Hour. Ask community leaders who have an influence in a specific area or interesting career paths to volunteer their time to talk to your team. Make it after hours in a more relaxed environment.
  • Record your employee-led trainings. Additionally, after the training, you could add in a quiz to help employees better retain the information due to the lack of face-to-face interaction.

Think outside the box

An employee who works full time on a client site typically does not want to add more to their plate - especially if it is not convenient or they don’t see the value. How do we make it more appealing for them and get better results?

Think outside the box. Some examples are below:

  • Mentorship/Buddy Programs. When an employee starts it's always helpful for them to have someone they feel they can reach out to for questions or concerns. This is an easy way for an employee to stay connected.
  • Reimbursement budget for personal and professional development classes or courses. This will help to make employees feel supported to grow, learn and develop holistically.
  • Job Shadowing. Create a program where employees can shadow someone one day each quarter, for instance, to further develop in their roles or see how they could make a lateral move across departments.

It’s important to try new strategies, instead of settling on old practices.

Keeping Employees Engaged

Employee engagement is about creating a workplace where your employees feel they have the proper tools to complete their job successfully, and where they feel encouraged to be passionate about their work. Engagement correlates to higher productivity, profitability and better customer service for your organization. And to drive employee engagement and development, it’s as simple as paying more attention to your employees.

A couple tips:

  • Make your trainings and meetings interactive. Whether these trainings are held online or in person, try to make it enjoyable and add value. Interactive trainings will ensure higher retention because they are more focused. It’s also helpful to take attendance at training sessions. Employees are the driver of their own success.
  • Gamification. Tap into your employee's desires for gratification and rewards. Make a game for your employees by offering incentives for completing the goals they set or for being the first one to complete the required trainings.
  • Collaborate. Remember, people who gravitate towards project-based work (typically contract employees) enjoy a challenge. Ask for their feedback and help with finding solutions, whether that be around training and development, or how they could be doing their jobs better for instance.

Another form of engagement that requires a little bit more time is introduce bi-weekly individual calls with each employee on your team in addition to your weekly team meeting. It may take a couple of hours out of your calendar, but in the long run, your team will be more productive, add more value and accomplish their goals.

Utilize Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Each workplace is different and everyone has their own preferred learning style. Utilizing a Learning Management System (LMS) is the best way to customize training to fit your employees. An LMS is an application tool that organizations use to create an environment conducive to employee development. LMS’ are on-demand trainings that allow your employees and their managers to administer, manage, track and learn when and where ever they find the right place and time. You can even create learning track and development plans. LMS provides you with access to videos, article, podcasts, books and more. With the technology we have in place today, this is a great tool to take advantage of, especially when you have employees who don’t get that interaction on a daily or weekly basis.

If your company does not have an LMS system in place, check out what we have to offer!

There are many ways you can approach the world of Training and Development. Applying the recommendations above for your employees who tend to be billable and/or remote, should allow you to jump-start conversations and take that next step in propelling your future workforce.