Common challenges of employee development and how to overcome them

June 27, 2024 By Kit Germeroth

Employee development is crucial for organizational success, but it comes with its own set of challenges. In this article, we explore common obstacles to effective training and development and provide actionable solutions to overcome them.

7 common employee development challenges

Though challenges may vary based on the size and type of organization you’re working within, some common employee development challenges are prevalent across workplaces.

1. Establishing development needs

The challenge: Determining the gap between what the business needs and the skills the employees have. It can be tricky to pinpoint the exact areas where growth is needed. Often, businesses struggle to align their goals with the current skill sets of their employees. Without a clear understanding of these gaps, it’s hard to make development efforts focused and effective, leading to wasted resources and missed opportunities.

The solution: A multi-faceted approach to identify what employees need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. This should include the following:

  • Self-assessments – where employees evaluate their own skills and identify areas where they feel less confident and take ownership of their development.
  • SWOT analysis – identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats at both individual and team levels. 
  • Manager feedback – where employee performance is measured against business goals and the specific skills required for their roles to highlight areas for improvement.
  • Business goals alignment – to ensure the development needs are directly tied to the broader business objectives.

2. Lack of resources

The challenge: Training can be time-consuming and expensive. One of the major hurdles in employee development is a lack of resources. High-quality training programs often require significant time and financial investment. 

Small to medium-sized businesses in particular may struggle to allocate the necessary budget for comprehensive training initiatives. Additionally, employees might find it challenging to take time out of their regular responsibilities to attend lengthy training sessions.

The solution: Use a Learning Management System (LMS) to streamline everything. An LMS provides a centralized platform where all training materials, courses, and progress tracking can be managed. It can substantially reduce the costs associated with traditional training methods, eliminating the need for off-site training days or printed materials. 

Also, training can be conducted at a time and pace that suits each employee, minimizing disruption to their day-to-day workflow.

3. Lack of engagement

The challenge: Employees aren’t eager to participate. A common challenge in employee development is fostering engagement. Employees often view training as a tedious obligation rather than an opportunity for growth. When employees are disengaged, the effectiveness of development programs is significantly compromised.

The solution: Stress the importance of training and make it fun. When introducing employee development opportunities, clearly convey the benefits of training, linking it directly to career growth and personal development. When employees understand how training enhances their skills and future prospects, they are more likely to be motivated.

Introduce gamification elements to make training more enjoyable and interactive. Incorporating features like quizzes, leaderboards, and rewards can turn learning into a fun and competitive experience. This not only boosts engagement but also enhances retention and application of new skills.

4. Lack of time

The challenge: Employees don’t have time to do the training. With demanding workloads and tight deadlines, employees often struggle to find time for professional growth activities. This often leads to training moving down the list of priorities, leading to knowledge gaps in the long run. 

The solution: Embrace microlearning and dedicated training sessions. Reinforce the idea that training is a part of the normal workweek and just as important as WIPs or all-hands meetings. By allocating dedicated sessions, employees can focus on their development without the pressure of other work responsibilities. Ideally, training then becomes an integral part of the work routine rather than an additional burden.

It’s important to keep these training programs short and easily digestible. Microlearning modules, which typically last only a few minutes, allow employees to learn at their own pace without overwhelming them. 

5. Hybrid workforce

The challenge: It’s difficult to get employees in one place at the same time. In the last four years, we have seen a huge uptick in the number of remote and hybrid workers. While it’s great for morale and work-life balance, coordinating training sessions can be a logistical nightmare, especially when employees are scattered across time zones. 

The solution: Mobile learning and personalized LMS for employees. Mobile learning solutions allow employees to access training materials from anywhere, at any time. The flexibility of mobile learning is crucial for accommodating the diverse schedules and locations of a hybrid workforce.

A personalized LMS can deliver customized training experiences, adapt to individual learning styles, track progress, and provide tailored content based on the specific needs of each employee. This ensures that all team members, regardless of their location, receive relevant and consistent training.

6. Multigenerational workforce

The challenge: Different generations prefer different learning styles. When you build a diverse team, employees will span a wide range of ages, each with their own preferred learning styles and technological comfort levels. While younger employees might prefer digital, interactive learning experiences, older employees might lean towards traditional, instructor-led sessions. These varying preferences can make it difficult to design a one-size-fits-all training program.

The solution: Offer personalized training plans and make training available in multiple formats. By assessing each employee’s learning styles and professional goals, you can create customized development plans that resonate with each generation. 

A good development program will provide training materials in a variety of formats to accommodate different learning preferences. This could include a mix of e-learning modules, video tutorials, webinars, in-person workshops, and printed manuals. 

By offering diverse learning options, you ensure that every employee can engage with the content in a way that suits them best.

7. Difficulty measuring the impact

The challenge: It can be difficult to track the efficacy of training and demonstrate its value to stakeholders. Without clear metrics, it’s hard to determine if the training is effective and to demonstrate its value. The lack of measurable outcomes can make it difficult to justify the investment in training initiatives.

The solution: Utilize an LMS for tracking, soliciting feedback, and measuring ROI. This solution is three-pronged:

  • Implement an LMS that can provide detailed reports on course completion rates, assessment scores, and participation levels. 
  • Regularly solicit feedback from employees regarding their training experiences, with surveys and feedback forms to gather insights on the relevance and effectiveness of the training. 
  • Measure the return on investment (ROI) by tracking changes in performance metrics, productivity improvements, and retention rates post-training.

By quantifying these benefits, you can present concrete evidence of the training’s value to stakeholders.

How to overcome the challenges of employee training and development

To overcome common employee training challenges, it’s essential to identify development needs, manage limited resources, and boost engagement, while also keeping track of the impact and its ROI.

An LMS is the perfect solution, as it makes training accessible to all employees, in diverse formats, from any device, and at convenient times. Additionally, an LMS tracks progress, measures impact, and provides valuable data to showcase the training’s ROI, ensuring effective and efficient employee development.

Moodle Workplace is a fully customizable online learning management system. It saves time, enhances learning, and provides all the necessary tools to track progress with learning analytics and custom reports. With the right LMS in place, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming all of your employee development challenges. 

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