A group conducts a training session in a room. People sitting round a rectangular table with a woman standing and presenting on a screen.
PHOTO: AFGE

Addressing a skills gap in the workforce has become serious business. It was the number 1 answer for talent developers in LinkedIn Learning’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report. Researchers called 2019 the breakout year for talent development. While the jury’s out on that one — we’ll probably see what the studies from 2019 workplace learning say soon enough — it’s always a good time to sharpen the employee’s digital skills toolset. We asked some workplace pundits to share some considerations for digital skills training programs for employees.

Investing in Micro-Learning

The introduction of digital skills training plays a significant role in developing an innovative, productive, engaged and motivated workforce, according to Dane Amyot, managing director of bountiXP. His team’s implemented a “rigid training program” because it helps to align employees on the importance it places on the skills that matter to the organization. “It also ensures that employees are introducing personal learning and development into their daily or weekly routines,” Amyot added.

The company trains employees on the basics of document collaboration and inter-departmental communication tools techniques such as the use of Slack and basic cybersecurity awareness. Once the basics are mastered, Amyot’s company encourages employees to continue on their learning journeys through other short courses offered online.“We like to do this through a technique call micro-learning,” Amyot said. 

"This format refers to bite-sized learning, often referred to as ‘learning in nuggets’. It is specifically designed to meet a learning outcome. It is often delivered in rich media formats such as apps, videos and animations and is accessible on multiple devices such as Smartphones, tablets, desktops and laptops. This level of access and format makes it ideal for learning on the job.”

Related Article: 7 Digital Skills Everyone Should Have

Don’t Ignore Google, SEO

G Suite training will be essential for every company that deals with technology or executes its tasks through it, according to Pete Sosnowski, CEO and co-founder at Zety and an HR specialist. “Luckily, schools are taking up the task of educating current and future generations with the very basics of informatics, including Google Docs or Sheets.” 

Speaking of Google, Sosnowski added organizations in this decade should continue to train employees on Search Engine Optimization. “A course covering the basics of SEO might be a good idea,” he said, “to make sure none of your employees accidentally make counterproductive moves that could affect your website’s ranking on Google.”

Hold Techno-Stress in Check

Although the digital workplace requires certain skill sets to start with, the technologies are changing quickly. Handling too much information might become overwhelming for some, said Jagoda Wieczorek, HR manager at ResumeLab. Start slow, she said, and with what's necessary. “Hold the techno-stress in check,” Wieczorek said. “Digital communication is a necessity that makes all other activities in the digital workplace possible,” she added. “Anything from Slack through Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, or Zoom will get your team connected and communicating so start with training your employees on how to use these tools properly.”

Digital communication is not only about passing information from top to bottom, but about building a work environment that is “co-created by employees,” according to Wieczorek. “We have been taught such democracy by social platforms, which we all use privately,” she said. “Building digital communication in the workplace is based on the same social mechanisms.”

Related Article: Optimizing Your Company Culture for Today's Modern Workers

Cybersecurity Training Has Benefits

Nina LaRosa, marketing director of Moxie Media, said cybersecurity is important to include in any digital skills training program for employees. She called it a “crucial step toward protecting your organization’s processes and data.” It will also enhance morale. “Cyberattacks are intricately designed so employees feel ashamed or embarrassed when they aren’t aware of what to do to stay safe,” LaRosa said. “When an employee is educated on basic cybersecurity, they are more confident to perform their work duties.”

It can also reduce errors, naturally. Integrating cybersecurity awareness training can teach employees how to protect sensitive information, choose strong passwords and detect if an email or link is safe to reply to or click.

Don’t Forget Social Media, Email Basics

Training in two basic functions — social and email — can’t hurt. This may seem like overkill, and employees may roll some eyes if they are told they need email-etiquette training. But it's a worthy investment since email and social remain two of the primary communication methods and should be baked into employee training, according to  Norhanie Pangulima, content marketing executive at Centriq

Social media responsibility is crucial since employees, naturally, are representatives of the company in one way or another. “Because of this, they should be taught on how they are seen online,” she said. “Basic social media responsibility training for employees would be beneficial for companies so they can avoid being associated with scandals caused by employees online.” Email-etiquette training “makes perfect sense for employees” since “external communications are almost always sent through email.”