Corporate Academies: the key to successful employee development
It’s a problem most HR managers have faced at some point: your team is growing quickly, and so is the complexity of your employee development program. Many of your subject-matter experts and specialists are lacking the soft skills that they need to motivate and guide their direct reports. New employees need to learn about the corporate culture. Your L&D team is stretched to its limits.
You need a training system that can scale as quickly as your team does. One that helps you systematically develop your employees’ talents and competencies using a standardized framework. One that can support your company’s growth, rather than being bowled over by it.
If that sounds like a dream come true, then a corporate academy might be the right solution for your business.
What is a corporate academy and how can it help my company?
A corporate academy is a learning hub that provides tailor-made training programs to an organization’s employees. The courses and learning paths are designed to meet employees’ individual needs while also aligning with the strategic goals of the organization. A corporate academy ensures that employees receive the specific skills and knowledge they need to excel in their roles — whether those are soft skills, software-specific training, or continuing professional development for subject-matter experts. This approach enhances employee job satisfaction and improves employee retention while also strengthening your company's talent pool, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.
A well-designed corporate academy can help human resources and talent management experts standardize training and professional development across multiple departments and branches. Teams can be provided with both role-specific training as well as more general training designed to create a unified corporate culture.
Staff development challenges in the contemporary workplace
The contemporary corporate world makes professional development and corporate training a challenge. HR teams need to cope with ever-evolving technology, a diverse workforce and developments like remote and hybrid working. Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.
As technology advances, learners’ expectations change. Not long ago, corporate training was generally offered in-person. If learning happened online, students could expect monotonous, written information followed by static written quizzes. But contemporary learning environments have changed. Students — especially younger employees — now expect streaming video, interactive quizzes, gamification options and more. These all help to increase user engagement and encourage students to finish their courses, but they require the right platform and technology.
Remote and hybrid work have also changed the way that employees work and learn. Traditional in-office group trainings are not accessible to remote workers, and may be challenging for hybrid workers to schedule. In addition, remote work has changed workers’ expectations for flexibility.
Employees — especially remote workers — are no longer bound to their desks during the work day. They might be used to handling minor tasks and emails on their mobile devices. That means that you will likely have better success with your training program if the courses are mobile-friendly and can be accessed from anywhere.
A diverse, global workforce can also make it challenging to give everyone the training they need. Not only may different groups need different training (for example, more or less emphasis on “soft skills”), but you may want or need to offer training in different languages. In addition, different employee groups may need different incentives to encourage them to complete the training. A robust learning platform can help you meet these needs effectively. Moreover, course analytics can allow you to see how learners are interacting with their course. This can help you adjust the learning format, course length or other details to meet different groups where they are and bring them up to speed effectively.
The benefits of a corporate academy
A well-structured corporate academy can offer a host of advantages for your company. Here are just a few of the ways you can benefit from creating a corporate academy.
Traditionally, corporate training has been delivered in-person in an office environment. And while there is certainly a benefit to in-person training, they aren’t very scalable. For larger corporations with multiple locations, the costs of hiring multiple trainers can be significant. And when employees need to attend a group training session, it can be difficult to find a time that fits everyone’s schedules.
Online course delivery — also known as eLearning — solves all of these problems. A single training course can be created once, then delivered to hundreds or even thousands of employees with no additional effort. The cost and effort that would have gone into delivering courses to individual groups of employees can now be spent on creating additional training or improving the existing courses.
Delivery of in-person training is difficult to standardize. It requires that each individual trainer receives extensive training themselves (see also: problems with scalability) and it’s hard to check in on how the materials are actually being delivered to the trainees. Of course, employees can provide feedback on the training, but this will be subjective — and it can be hard for employees to articulate what was missing, or what would have made the training better.
Online training courses, on the other hand, are only created once — using an authoring tool where anything can be deleted, rewritten, or refilmed as needed. This means that quality control and executive approval can occur at all phases of the course creation process. Once the course contents are perfected, the exact same course is delivered to all students throughout the company. And of course analytics or user feedback indicate that adjustments are needed, these can be made once in the course’s backend, with no need to retrain the corporate trainers.
Company culture and values
Especially for global businesses, or companies with a very diverse workforce, it can be challenging to communicate the company culture and values in a coherent, meaningful way. Sharing these soft skills across an entire corporation is quite an undertaking, but a corporate academy can help the HR team ensure that all employees receive standardized, effective training that employees will remember. And when they truly understand and embody the company culture and values, employees at every level can make better decisions that help to drive the company forward.
Best practices for designing and implementing your corporate academy
It takes thorough planning to build a successful corporate academy. The following four steps will help you create a corporate academy that perfectly suits the needs of your company.
Before you can decide how to deliver your courses, you need to know what exactly you need to deliver. Take stock of your company’s current training offers. What is missing? What existing training are you currently delivering in person, but now plan to digitize? Will you offer expert-level training, or more introductory courses to fill in knowledge gaps? What soft skills need to be taught across the whole organization?
When you are designing your curriculum, here are three key questions to ask yourself.
First, what is the objective of the course you are creating? You should clearly define what learners will be able to do after completing the course.
Secondly, who are your learners? Look at both demographics (age, gender, role in the company) and psychographics if possible (learning styles, motivation for completing the course, etc.)
Lastly, ask yourself what needs the learners have. Do any employees have disabilities such as low vision or hearing, which may need to be taken into account while designing the courses? What is their basic level of knowledge on the subject? What language style (technical or casual) will best help them learn? Will you need to offer course content in multiple languages?
Once you have answered these questions, you can begin designing a curriculum that will help different groups of learners meet their learning objectives successfully.
Choosing the right technology & course platform:
Once you’ve decided what eLearning courses your company wants to offer, you can start looking for the best technology to deliver it. There are a wide variety of learning platforms available that are designed to suit businesses of different sizes and structures. Looking at the overall objectives for your corporate academy, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Will we offer external content, or only courses that we produce ourselves?
- Will an L&D team define the learning paths, or should employees choose self-directed learning options?
- What special features — such as user-generated training or special accessibility features — will we want?
- Do you need third-party integrations, or would you prefer a simpler, self-contained solution?
- Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be ready to compare different learning management systems (LMSs) and learning experience platforms (LXPs) to find the best fit for your company.
The bottom line.
A corporate academy is an ideal way to offer custom-tailored professional development courses and soft skills training to your company’s employees. Employees benefit from flexible, interactive learning and a well-defined professional development path. At the same time, L&D and HR departments enjoy the scalability, quality control, and standardization that they offer. Corporate academies can thus help to improve employee retention and job satisfaction, while also promoting the organization’s strategic goals.
To begin designing your company’s corporate academy, you’ll want to define your needs, plan a curriculum that is suitable for the particular learners at your company, and find a course platform that offers the features you have decided are most important. If you’re having trouble wading through all the options, Knowledgeworker can offer expert guidance and consultations through every part of the process. We also offer a full range of tools to create effective, highly engaging e-learning courses for your team.
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