It’s official – it’s a candidate market out there. Recruiting and company review site Glassdoor reports that 84 percent of employees surveyed would leave their jobs to work for companies with excellent reputations. That means companies today have to work continuously at engaging and retaining top talent, providing what they want or risk losing them. At the top of employee and candidate wish lists, especially for Millennials, is training. According to a recent ManpowerGroup survey, 93 percent of Millennials across the world want training, and availability of training opportunities is a top factor in job search and acceptance.

Why Invest in Training?

An outdated employer and recruiter mindset is thinking that employees and candidates are responsible for their own career preparation, not employers. That may have been true 10, 15, 20 years ago or more. But that is a dangerous attitude to have in business now, and it will cost you an engaged, high performing workforce if you keep thinking that way.

Training today is an investment in business success, not an expense to be avoided or cut. Training not only improves employee engagement and productivity, it also improves the bottom line, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). And the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) reports that companies investing in training average significantly higher profit margins, higher income per employee, and higher shareholder return than companies that don’t.

If your company isn’t offering the kind of training that employees and candidates want and look for from employers, you won’t be as profitable as the companies that do.

What Training Do They Want?

Recent research by Canadian employee-learning platform company Axonify found that respondents want training that’s easy to complete and understand, always accessible, personalized and relevant to their training and career needs, and engaging and fun. Are you providing that kind of training in your company?

Axonify president and CEO Carol Leaman says employers today need to incorporate concepts and practices including gamification and micro-learning into their training offerings to provide what their employees and candidates want and need.

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Applying game elements to training with gamification pulls stories, adventures, competition, and achievement together in a fun way to help people prepare for and improve in their jobs. Karl M. Kapp, consultant and professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pa., says ignoring gamification for training is a mistake because your competitors are doing it. Two companies seeing success with gamification are The London Underground (subway) and California Water Crisis. The first uses a simple card game to teach key safety lessons, and the second uses an interactive game to teach the ins and outs of state-wide water policy and usage.

Integrating classroom/lecture training into an organization’s busy workforce takes time from productive core business activities. Micro-learning provides the needed information and instruction in small lessons and instructional activities on the job without the disruption of traditional classroom instruction.

It’s aligned with today’s modern lifestyle that’s adapted the “Google-search mentality” we all have now, according to Rapid Learning Institute’s president and CEO Stephen Meyer. He says the Internet has created more expectations of immediate access and that’s where micro-learning excels. Experts agree that for micro-learning to be most effective, it must super relevant, providing absolutely up-to-date information; must have a social aspect with discussion and role-playing; and be presented in unexpected ways and interleaved with different types of information for better retention.

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Let ‘em Play Games

Let your employees play games? What? Yes, you heard that right. While ContractRecruiter has discussed gamification for recruiting, research is showing that game-based learning results in higher rates of factual and skill-based knowledge, and higher retention rates than other methods. The University of Colorado Denver examined studies of almost 6,500 trainees, finding from nine to 14 percent better results from training with learning games. Game-based learning also produced more confident trainees who believed they understood the skills and facts needed to do their jobs at a 20 percent higher rate than other types of training. Another bonus – games provides immediate feedback to learners about their progress.

Still not convinced that training your workforce is important? Organizations as diverse as Walmart and the government of Belgium are making employee training a priority in 2017. Walmart plans to provide training in 200 training academies across the country this year for more than a quarter million employees. The government of Belgium promotes permanent training of employees with legal requirements for companies to provide a specific number of training days per year per full time employee.

It’s time for serious commitment to employee training in 2017, whether your organization is a large global retailer, a government, or anywhere in between. If you’re not sure you need to be training, take a look at your closest competitor. That may be all the convincing you need to make training a priority for recruiting, retention, and engagement this year.

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