This article was updated on Sept. 6, 2018.

There are a variety of different ways that professional services firms can benefit from capitalizing on the latest trends in training and development. Advanced learning programs satisfy talented employees' demand for ongoing professional development, and such programs serve as attractive recruitment and retention tools — an increasingly vital component of any professional services firm's HR strategy.

Here are some key trends in training and development that your firm can implement quickly and efficiently:

Blended Learning

This approach combines virtual or e-learning techniques with more traditional, in-person training sessions. Employees can learn at their own pace, while also benefiting from group collaboration and instructors' real-time feedback.

Mobile Learning

Capitalizing on the explosion in mobile technology, mobile learning — learning that takes place on portable electronic devices such as smartphones — (or "m-learning") meets the needs of millennial professionals, who want (and expect) instantaneous access to information wherever they are located. Look for more innovations in microcontent (short, mobile-optimized content, usually on a single topic and intended to spark curiosity), such as brief (two- to three-minute) videos, charts, graphs, chat features, audio files and surveys that convey learning materials in a quick, easy-to-absorb format on an employee's mobile device.

Social and Collaborative Learning

Various learning platforms (including m-learning) are incorporating social elements that encourage usage and sharing with others. Employees can further their knowledge base through collaborative learning models, while also benefiting from peer-to-peer relationship building and more deeply rooted team dynamics.

Employers with a diverse workplace can rely on advances in mobile app and browser translator technology to help facilitate communication amongst employees. The Skype Translator, for example, enables learning participants to communicate in eight languages for voice calls and more than 50 languages for instant messages.

Gamification

Utilizing game mechanics to spur involvement in learning has shifted from the fringes of e-learning and is now a key element in many professional services training programs. After all, friendly competition is a great incentive for learning — and a welcome change from the sometimes isolating nature of learning platforms.

Video games, simulations and other online games relating to workplace scenarios boost creative thinking and enhance problem-solving abilities.

As writer Kathie Kelly notes, gamification apps may encourage millennials to "meet deadlines and pick up new skills while creating a stress-free social atmosphere."

Fostering the Right Environment

For many professional services firms, the key to successful retention lies in building a community of star employees. That sense of community grows out of a company culture in which ongoing training and development is valued and encouraged. It also doesn't hurt that technology-based training is often significantly less costly than old-style classroom instruction because time and money are no longer lost to travel, lodging, booking conference rooms or printing learning materials.

Employees in the professional services industry are, by nature, ambitious and hungry for knowledge. By implementing technology-based training and development programs, you can satisfy this demand and meet your need to retain star performers for years to come.

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