Your staff is your #1 investment. Yet too many property management companies still consider staff as a somewhat static asset when in reality you can be constantly increasing their value through an organized and consistent learning program.
The investment in learning is minuscule compared to the payoffs in expanding skillsets that improve your employees’ competence and allow you to move them up to positions of greater responsibility. Hiring from outside your company can never compete with the cost-effectiveness of filling vacant positions from within your own ranks.
Realizing this, many PMCs are eagerly embracing learning management programs. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are casual and haphazard while others are disciplined and highly organized. The best have employees systematically improving their knowledge and skills, and incorporate some form of monitoring to ensure nobody is letting their training be put on a back burner in order to get their “real” work done. Too often this results in training being permanently neglected. After all, there’s always something that has to be done this week—and training can wait, right?
Today’s most effective learning programs aren’t just monitoring compliance, however. They’re also incorporating innovative techniques that make learning more enjoyable, flexible and memorable. That’s one reason we’re beginning to see the term “learning” used more frequently than the dreaded “training,” with its connotations of forced drudgery.
These things being said, here are four of the hottest trends in learning you should keep your eye on today:
This one is becoming less a “trend” than a “must-have.” The benefits of the infusion of competition, contests and rewards into learning is now so well-established that it’s beyond debate. People love to compete. They love to be rewarded for their achievements, even if it’s just with simple badges, trophies or points. And they love to watch themselves climb ladders of accomplishment, with milestones along the way. If you’re not engaging your folks to learn, everyone loses.
Personal, customized learning
One size does not fit all. Different employees have different skills and different weaknesses that need addressing, even when in similar positions. Trending now is the intelligent customization of learning to the individual learner. The beauty is that this does not have to involve labor-intensive personalization and restructuring of content—it can be enabled and automated through assessments and carefully crafted learning paths.
The old model of simply launching a required course, expecting the learner to slog through it and then (perhaps) take a test when it’s over is giving way to interactive coursework that reinforces the learning along the way with mini-quizzes, best practices and reminders—sometimes, with reward-related features such as boxes that turn from yellow to green as targeted checkpoints are passed.
Fading into history are the days when corporations launch an hour-long video or live training session and hope the learners don’t either fall asleep or drift off thinking of the urgent matters they should be taking care of. More and more, training is being served up in bite-sized pieces that are better accommodated into today’s busy schedules.
At its best, micro-learning incorporates highly targeted nuggets of learning specifically related to tasks at hand. These can be in the form of short videos, quizzes, factoids, infographics, even games. Because they’re embedded in the daily tasks they’re related to, as opposed to learning that happens separately from any particular activity, retention is higher.
Another big trend in learning is integration with online social activity—so instead of experiencing positive reinforcement only when they visit your learning system’s home page, employees are seeing it integrated into their interactions with other employees. They can more easily keep up with how they’re doing compared to others, comment about this or that course, congratulate one another and more. It’s been proven that education improves when there’s sharing and communication involved.
One proviso: popular contemporary social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are not good tools for this sort of corporate learning. It requires that a specialized social component be integrated into the learning platform itself—and this is beginning to happen.
That’s a look at four of the learning trends that are either really taking off or already becoming standard for forward-thinking property management companies. Don’t leave the Talent Contest to chance; consider incorporating these strategies into your learning program. You can learn more about these and other learning techniques at RealPage EasyLMS.