At the top of 2022, a few learning and development trends have emerged. We’ve seen microlearning take center stage, that learning is key in employee engagement, and that learning is a journey, not a destination.
If you’re ready to embrace these trends in your organization’s training opportunities, consider developing micro-credentials for your employees.
Micro-credentials are defined as: “short, stackable courses that learners—whether students, employees, or organization members—take to develop specific skills in their field.”
Micro-credentials are most often asynchronous and completed over a few weeks. An employee would fit a micro-credential into their schedule however works best for them and, a few weeks later, have learned a tangible new skill to add to their resume, portfolio, and daily efforts at work.
Because micro-credentials generally target skills in high-growth fields (such as IT support, project management, UX design, and cybersecurity), they can also have a major impact on an employee’s competitive advantage within your company.
Even if something is trending in the world of instructional design, you should do your due diligence before incorporating it into your efforts. The following reasons make a compelling argument for micro-credentials. Let’s dive in.
1. Elevated engagement
The stats alone illustrate why employee engagement is crucial:
- Companies that report high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.
- Workplaces that report high employee engagement saw a 41% lower absenteeism rate.
- Disengaged employees cost companies anywhere from $450 – 500 billion each year.
It’s not just that you want employees to be engaged so that they feel fulfilled in their roles—though that’s certainly part of it—but because that engagement has a direct impact on revenue.
Unfortunately, many companies are experiencing an employee engagement crisis—in fact, 85% of employees in a Gallup survey reported that they’re not engaged in the workplace.
By offering micro-credentials in your company’s training programs, you can directly combat low engagement. Micro-credentials can help increase employee engagement by:
- Empowering employees to target specific skills needed to reach their career goals. Few things are more engaging for employees than a clear path toward improvement. For ambitious employees eyeing a promotion, a skills-based micro-credential may be the deciding factor that helps them reach their goals. For example, an employee who wants to break into product development could take a micro-credential on UX design and start pursuing their interests.
- Providing ‘quick wins’ for employees who are looking to level up. Some employees may feel downtrodden and discouraged in their roles because they feel like their skills are subpar. With micro-credentials, they can tangibly improve in just a few weeks’ time.
- Creating a direct opportunity for future recognition. When an employee completes a micro-credential, it’s the perfect opportunity to recognize their accomplishment publicly across the company. This recognition can help an employee feel appreciated within your organization and motivated to continue being a valuable member of the team.
Micro-credentials give employees tools to chase their goals, catch up if they’re falling behind, and receive recognition across the company, each of which can increase employee engagement and revenue for your organization.
2. Increased retention
Employee engagement impacts more than just revenue; engaged employees are also significantly more likely to be retained over time.
As you’ve almost certainly noticed, we’re in the midst of the ‘Great Resignation,’ a period marked by historically high employee turnover. Your best tool against turnover is offering benefits that are tangible and valued by employees, but this doesn’t just mean financial benefits.
It’s not all about the money:
- 74% of young employees would take a pay cut to chase their ideal roles.
- 33% of employees who change jobs cite boredom and the need for new challenges as a driver behind their decision-making.
Even if it’s financially feasible, you can’t just give employees a raise and expect them to stick around for the long run. We’re seeing that the opportunity to grow and learn is directly tied to why employees stay at a company. This is especially true of Millennials, 87% of which consider ongoing development opportunities at a job to be important. Considering Millennials are the largest generation currently in the workforce, this isn’t to be underestimated.
Micro-credentials are the ideal conduit to address employees’ desire to access ongoing professional development opportunities in the workplace. This is because micro-credentials:
- Target specific skills that can then be added to resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and online portfolios.
- Focus on in-demand skills, allowing employees to build skillsets that meet market demand.
- Can be completed in a relatively short period of time, making them more attainable.
With micro-credentials, your employees will see working for your company as not only a way to have a job and earn money, but as a step toward ongoing career development.
3. New skills needs
Let’s say you have engaged employees who are committed to staying with your organization for years to come. Is it time to relax?
Recent research shows that the pressure is on for human resources and learning and development professionals. In the wake of major digital transformations and pivots, these professionals need to focus on employee development. It’s hard to know which skills are needed when “the jobs of the future haven’t even been invented yet,” but what’s clear is that upskilling (and the ability to do so quickly) is key.
If you want employees to possess a new skill—not just generally understand academic information surrounding a topic, but actually demonstrate it on the job—micro-credentials are key.
These courses cut the fluff, giving employees real information that they can incorporate into their daily efforts. And as we’ve mentioned, employees can complete micro-credentials in a fairly short amount of time, achieving the improvements they need quickly.
Micro-credentials can also be developed on a fairly tight timeline. If your L&D (learning and devlopment) team is crunched for time, you can partner with an external instructional design firm to bring your micro-credentials to life. And, while instructor-led training and coaching have their positives, micro-credentials are beneficial in situations where you’ll need to train multiple employees now and into the future.
Micro-credentials can elevate engagement, increase retention, and help your company keep up with the demand for quick upskilling. They’re a growing field in the world of instructional design, and can be a valuable addition to your organization’s learning and development efforts.
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