Local, Mobile, Social: The Key to a Productive Workforce

06/21/2013 04:24 pm ET | Updated Aug 21, 2013

More than 30% of employees are planning to leave their organizations within the next two years, according to a study by Bersin by Deloitte. That's one third of your workforce.

We've seen this before. In a recession, there are fewer opportunities to change jobs, and the perceived security of a job that someone has held for a while - however awful - can lead them to stay put. Once the economy shows signs of recovery, however, a mass exodus in favor of new opportunities takes place. This is particularly pronounced among employees who feel they are not progressing in or challenged by their current positions.

In today's recovering economy, the resources necessary for onboarding, learning and talent development - vital to retaining costly hires - are in short supply. As we talk about ongoing talent development, what lessons can we borrow from the local, mobile, social (LoMoSo) marketing and technology movement to ensure we're building the most productive and intelligent workforce possible?

1. Local: The way that we work and learn - and where we work - has changed significantly. Workforces today are more mobile and therefore more difficult to pin down for onsite training and development sessions. Traditional onboarding or training coursework that might have consisted of papers, documents or DVDs has therefore evolved into a plethora of different media, available from a variety of locations. Your training solution should be "local" in that it should be flexible enough to go where your employees are - virtually.

2. Mobile: Today's workforce is more tech-savvy and expects the business tools they are provided with to cater to their particular style of digesting information - which is increasingly taking place anywhere and at any time. A survey ON24 conducted of learning professionals earlier this year found that more than 35% of the respondents saw successfully implementing social or mobile learning tools as their biggest challenge. In addition, 47% of the HR professionals we surveyed reported that their employees use a mobile device for training. This represents a great opportunity for employers to offer flexible, customizable and scalable training options to their employees.

3. Social: Training tools themselves are also changing - with less one-way lecturing and more interactivity using social media, video and mobile tools. In fact, 56% of training and HR professionals feel that social and interactive training is more effective than traditional training. In addition, 40% of survey respondents indicated that employees' need to learn in their own time or when their work schedules allow it is increasing demand for virtual training. Social learning tools make sharing new skills, techniques or best practices simple and instant. Virtual learning environments and webcasts are also highly interactive, and they make finding coursework, contacts or discussions an enjoyable diversion, rather than a chore.

The biggest challenge in all of this is usability. We can't expect busy employees to take advantage of the development resources we provide if they're difficult or time-consuming to use. Learning and development professionals must make the leap to local, mobile and social solutions because, with fewer people around to manage the training, technology is filling the void.

In today's hyper-competitive business environment, successful businesses are those that give their employees the power to take ownership of their career paths and manage their own professional development. The good news is that the tools available have improved immeasurably, and virtual talent development is on the uptick, an indicator of the move towards businesses adopting more robust training technologies.

We now have the technology and know-how to make retaining staff - by offering training solutions that meet them on their turf, in the way they want to learn - an attainable goal.