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3 Trends That Will Impact Corporate Training Budgets in 2017 

President Of TrainSmart, Inc.

This is not a financial story. Depending on the source, training budgets are either shrinking or expanding.   The fact is, organizations will have a certain amount of money they can spend on training. The key question is not how much they’re going to spend. Rather, it’s what are they going to spend it on.

There are certain workplace trends that provide some insight into how that money may be spent.

Generation Z is now in the workplace

Looking back on the past 10 years, it feels that many businesses were caught off guard when the Millennials (Gen Y) made their presence known. That resulted in many lost hours of unhappy co-workers who were astounded, perplexed, and bothered by millennials who didn’t “behave” like previous generations. The millennials were not afraid to speak to senior leaders. They didn’t listen to voicemails. And, they opted to send a text message rather than talk to a co-worker even one sitting five feet away.

Businesses that lived through that lost productivity are not going to want to make the same mistake twice.  This time they will want to prepare organizations for the new generation.

The first Generation Z employees entered the workforce in May. As the millennials so powerfully demonstrated, each generation has its own traits and preferences. To avoid disruption in the workplace, businesses will want to focus on training that highlights these different traits, communication systems, and preferences. Workplace productivity will be enhanced when generations learn “tips and tricks” on how “to flex” to accommodate co-workers with different preference styles.

In a recent survey, 45% of Gen Z believe that it will be challenging to work with boomers.

What the preliminary research on this emerging generation says is that they are entrepreneurial, loyal, and flexible. They also, according to the research, prefer work-life balance over salary. They want mentors.

“…they prefer extensive feedback and input from those higher than them. Both of these mean that your company’s managers should be making every effort to connect with your gen Z employees and supporting them in whatever endeavors they are pursuing the company.”  Inc. Magazine, January 2016

Conquering the Ebberinger Forgetting Curve

It is the bane of many training programs – Regardless of how powerful, well-received and needed a training event may be, science tells us that  learners forget 90%  in just two to four weeks-unless it is reinforced.

It’s been over 100 years since Hermann Ebbinghaus did a series of experiments that demonstrated the 90% rule. The exact amount of time it takes to “forget the learning” varies from person to person based on their own memory strength.

It’s not news to trainers or business executives that their investment in training often has a low ROI because of the Ebberinger Forgetting Curve.

There are two factors that are responsible for changing this. First neuroscience. We know a lot more about how the brain works and what kind of reinforced or boosted learning will have the greatest impact.  Being able to tell stakeholders that you have a methodology to make their training dollars more effective should have a dramatic impact on the willingness of executives to invest in training.

It’s one thing to offer training and have your fingers crossed that it will make a difference. It’s an entirely different when you have science to support the methodology you recommend.

Of course, the other factor is technology.  It’s not new news for learning professionals that  to really learn material participants need reinforcements and boosters.  What is new is that there are now affordable ways to do that – thanks to technology.  From specialized apps, to text, social learning and gamification, the ability to create learning that sticks has never been stickier.

The oldest boomers just turned 70

The boomers – all 78 million of them- are exiting the workplace. Their exit may not be as  fast as some projected, but you can count on at least 5 million or so turning in their badges and clearing out their office spaces next year. Given that many boomers held leadership positions in organizations, companies are facing a leadership gap.  They  need to promote employees to these leadership positions much earlier in their careers than the previous generations.  Leadership is hard and few are born with leadership skills.

To help minimize the retirement disruption, organizations need to make sure the current leadership understand how to develop and implement a succession program. In addition, organizations need to commit to mentorship programs that will help coach the next generation.

Finally, companies need to provide the new leaders with leadership training that create environments that will motivate and engage the next generation of workers.

As you look to 2017, what areas are you going to focus on?