Ongoing tenure now means that employees must continually adapt to new and different roles. Skillfully navigating increased automation and other shifts in technology in the workplace may extend careers. In fact, according to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace, 61 percent of employees believe that a standard retirement age will eventually cease to exist. Experienced employees with longer tenures still need training to harness the myriad changes to technology in the workplace. But how exactly should that training occur?

To Educate or Not to Educate

Some leaders may assume that highly experienced employees don't need training. However, if these individuals demonstrate a capacity to quickly pick up on new methodologies and technologies and utilize them in their work, those efforts should be recognized and nurtured, not taken for granted or dismissed. These individuals demonstrate "learnability."

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), organizations should provide challenging opportunities to these employees through which "they can continue to be stimulated to exercise their learnability and be rewarded by broadening their expertise and increasing their value to the company and themselves."

Should Employees Train at Work or at Home

Those who are actively engaged in learning tend to perform better in technical subject matter than passive learners, according to HBR. The opportunity to use the information in a lab, practicum or actual project helps individuals master the concepts they are learning and be able to readily apply it in their jobs. In addition, employees need time to be able to digest more complex information. HBR notes that when employees had their day-to-day responsibilities removed so they could focus on learning, they learned more than twice as fast as employees whose responsibilities weren't removed. Furthermore, employees who are held accountable for both the actual training and the training results learn better.

Therefore, whether employees should train at home or at work depends on the type and complexity of the training and the accountability level. If a group or a portion of a group can participate in training that incorporates an actual work project, then the benefits are measurable and immediate. That training could thus be offered on or off-site during work hours. However, for training that involves only one employee who will have many interruptions or distractions at work, the employee could be offered incentives to complete training online at a much lower cost to the firm.

Who Should Pay for Training

According to HBR, one firm is aiding employees who helped build its brand over decades to rebrand and reposition themselves into future tech-driven roles. This organization-wide talent development initiative is helping retain its institutional knowledge base and decrease the costs of filling newly created roles. Because these are future positions, to demonstrate commitment, the firm primarily does not permit employees to participate in the learning and development on their own time. In addition, sometimes the individuals must cover the costs out of pocket. However, upon successful completion, those costs are later reimbursed.

According to, one-fourth of workers who are 55 or over find technology in the workplace stressful, whereas 36 percent of those 18 to 34 years old do. The results may reflect more issues with office systems than with the comfort level in new technologies. This possibility increases the need for training to ensure that applicable employees are knowledgeable about and skilled at using the very technology that was implemented to improve their work environment. In these situations, the associated training is directly tied to daily work needs. When employees are not adept at using the tools available to them, productivity and efficiency could decrease. In such cases, highly specific, internal training programs can demonstrate a high ROI. These programs could be online tutorials with embedded tests — such offerings are typically very cost effective. Also, don't forget to take into account wage and hour laws for the country and local jurisdiction of your employees when determining pay requirements for time spent in training.

Leveraging the Experience of Your Employees

To retain organizational knowledge while meeting the demands required by the changing technology in the workplace, you need to leverage the experience of your tenured employees into challenging and stimulating opportunities and roles. This can be done through learning and development. Whether that training is provided during or after work hours, on-site or off-site depends on the unique objectives and culture of your organization. In addition, whether or not that development education is paid for by the firm directly or indirectly depends on the payback and the time frame.

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Tags: Productivity leadership Talent