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What’s the most important factor in developing a highly-productive workforce? Is it training? To some extent yes – but training alone doesn’t increase performance or productivity. Then is it providing the right work environment? Sure, that’s a part of it. What about compensation? Or the management team? Or the effectiveness of employee development efforts?
While each of these things plays a role in workforce productivity, there is one factor that contributes more than any other single effort – and that is performance support.
Advancing the job performance of today’s workforce isn’t as simple as offering skills training alone. Even the best-designed training program will fall short if your employees aren’t supported in the application of what they’ve learned. A well-planned performance support program will help your workforce to put what they’ve learned in training into practice, at the time they need to do it.
Performance support is a term that has evolved over time as new technologies and tools have become available. While in the past it might have referred to companies providing an extensive in-house library, today performance support means much more. Supporting a modern workforce in the performance of their jobs means offering the type of instant access to information that wasn’t even possible just a few years ago.
This type of on-demand support means providing instant access to training and reference materials on mobile platforms, or creating a searchable database of instructional videos. In this way it can be seen as a supplement to other training efforts. While training provides the foundational knowledge an employee needs to help him perform his job, performance support provides the contextual details that allow him to be as productive as possible.
Employee's fresh off of their most recent training often wait weeks or longer to put that new knowledge to the test. And frequently an employee will forget most of what he learns in training soon after leaving the classroom. Without a performance support mechanism in place he must rely on memory, notes and tips scribbled in his workbook, or frantic phone calls to a subject matter expert.
Instead, with a properly designed performance support mechanism in place the employee can review the highlights of his training on his mobile device before putting it to use. He can also review a recorded video of an expert performing the procedure. Once on sight, he can access a support portal that tells him the exact specs and confirms what he believes is the problem. Now that’s on-demand support.
Plenty of organizations have built extensive learning and development programs that offer a wide variety of training courses to their workforce. They’ve also likely created robust content management and learning management systems to help in this effort. The investment in employee L&D programs such as these is substantial, and should be commended – however, even this effort falls short if it doesn’t include a performance support component. It’s like sending the Apollo astronauts into space without the benefit of the support crew back in Houston. (Uh, guys..... we have a problem.)
Advancing the job performance of today’s workforce isn’t as simple as offering training, no matter how well-designed it is. The training component is only a part of the picture. Remember, the knowledge acquired by an employee in his training stays with the employee, while a performance support system is available to any employee who needs it.
With all of the time, effort and investment of capital needed to build an employee training program, it simply makes sense to include a performance support component as well. And modern technology has made the ability to provide this support easier than it’s ever been. Through mobile devices and 24/7 access, our modern workforce has the equivalent of NASA’s entire Apollo space effort in the palm of their hands.
The team of Performance Support experts here at Designing Digitally, Inc. is experienced at creating programs that can help your workforce be as productive as possible. Let us know what we can do for you in building a next-generation performance support program that will make the most of your training investment and efforts.