The Impact of AI on Training and Development
We are in the exciting era of artificial intelligence. While its uses are impressively extensive, what is the impact of AI on training and development?
Training and development have always played crucial parts in the success of an organisation and the growth of its employees. While training equips your teams with the skills necessary to fulfill their day-to-day duties, development focuses on personal satisfaction, and keeping employees within the business.
Executed effectively, these two concepts make businesses more competitive. In a period of low unemployment, employee satisfaction - and the impact it has on retention rates - is more important than ever.
While the value of training and development is well established, there’s a buzzword that threatens to unsettle it: artificial intelligence (AI). Headlines filled with promises of increased efficiency and better ways of working punctuate our news cycles, as do prophecies of jobs taken over by robots. At the same time, managers are hoping to harness the power of machine learning alongside external training specialists to support business functionalities, and ultimately make them better.
But can AI really bolster your training and development efforts? Can it sit comfortably as part of your toolkit, and help get the best from your employees? The short answer is ‘yes’ - but it comes with an important caveat.
What is AI?
The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was first used in 1956 by American computer scientist John McCarthy. It refers to computers or systems that replicate human intelligence to complete tasks, often enhancing themselves through a process known as ‘machine learning’.
AI is particularly noteworthy in the context of training and development because it allows systems to analyse data, recognise patterns, and make decisions or predictions without explicit programming. But while those things sound great in theory, how can they practically affect the way that organisations undertake their training and development processes?
What Impacts Will AI Have on Training and Development?
The Automation of Tasks
If you’re responsible for the training and development in your organisation, it’s likely that you’re also familiar with the routine - but time-consuming - administrative tasks needed to carry them out effectively.
Those tasks might include progress tracking, assessment grading, content sourcing, and calendar management. All of these are likely to take time away from what truly matters: ensuring the continued growth of your employees and business.
With AI at your disposal, the time demands associated with these tasks can be substantially reduced through automation. Let’s say that you need to find out which employees lack the required level of food safety training. Traditionally, you might have searched through a database, scanning for ‘X’s instead of ticks which highlights those employees who need it.
Today, AI can complete this administrative task in a fraction of the time, whilst also significantly reducing the risk of human error. The same is true for grading assessments - AI can do it quickly and objectively, something that can be tricky when we apply our thoughts and feelings to whether an answer is a good one.
Chatbots for Support
Put yourself in the shoes of a learner undertaking fire safety training who isn’t sure what to include in a fire safety plan. As part of a large group, you may feel unwilling to make your voice heard, and bring attention to your lack of understanding. This could mean missing out on that vital clarification, creating a gap in your knowledge that is unlikely to be corrected, and will potentially cause problems later on.
With the presence of an AI chatbot, learners can feel more comfortable seeking necessary clarification as the session progresses. The ability to quickly ask for assistance without disrupting the session makes training more accessible to such group members, as well as those who may suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues.
Its presence also allows the trainer to deal with more complex problems and scenarios, confident that the chatbot can provide context and reminders later on. This ensures that training remains a human experience that is supported by artificial intelligence, rather than one that is dominated by it.
Managing the performance of hundreds, if not thousands, of employees to ensure they grow with the business is a formidable task. In days gone by, that duty might have included sifting through databases, sending out several surveys, collating their results, and having extensive conversations to identify who needs additional support.
Today, AI can automatically source that information and collate it into different data visualizations, such as graphs, charts, and tables. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can see who is outperforming expectations, and who needs guidance, focused training, or corrective measures. As well as being easy to interpret, the data is fed through AI in real time, giving you a clear and up-to-date picture of what is going on in your organisation.
The Need for Face-to-Face Training and Development
There is no denying that AI in its current form is already impressive. Current tools have the capacity to make our daily workloads lighter by automating tedious manual tasks, and allowing us to complete complex tasks more quickly and accurately.
But no matter how good AI is at doing basic tasks or simplifying complicated ones, there is no substitute for the human touch of real-life training and development.
Face-to-face interactions foster engagement and collaboration. They provide a platform for employees to ask questions, seek clarification, and engage in meaningful discussions - all of which can enhance their understanding and retention of knowledge.
In the context of soft skills and leadership development, face-to-face training excels. It allows participants to practice interpersonal skills such as communication, negotiation, and teamwork in a supportive environment. These skills often require nuanced feedback and real-world context - something face-to-face training readily provides, and AI often lacks.
There is a place for AI as part of your training and development efforts, but its place is alongside real-world specialists who can provide the vital human touch. While artificial intelligence excels at analysis and automating tasks, trainers, mentors, and coaches bring empathy, context, and personal connection to the table - inspiring learners far better than a machine ever could.
Led by Pam Loch, Loch Associates Group are expert in developing solutions to help organisations manage and look after their people. With a team of employment solicitors and HR consultants in Kent, London, and Sussex, they provide a unique combination of employment law, HR, well-being, and mediation expertise.