6 Tips to Develop Talent in Hybrid and Remote Teams

June 26th, 2024 – SkillCycle

Remote and hybrid work arrangements have become commonplace in many industries. With these arrangements comes the need for companies to adapt how they develop talent.

“Companies are facing engagement issues,” says Rebecca Taylor, CCO and Co-founder of SkillCycle. “Some employees are burnt out or overwhelmed from the amount of change they’ve navigated the past few years.”

Keeping employees engaged while they work in separate locations can take extra effort. For these team members, creating a culture of learning to support ongoing skill building and growth can be challenging but crucial.

The numbers vary by region and industry, but there’s no denying a significant change in how we work. Of those working in remote-capable jobs, 54% have a hybrid work structure, while 27% work exclusively remotely, and 20% work onsite, according to Gallup.

Building a healthy learning culture can help keep employees connected to company goals. However, leaders need dependable strategies to support ongoing learning and talent development among distributed teams.

In this article on how to foster a culture of learning within remote work environments, we’ll explore:

  • Moving past common challenges to develop talent in remote teams effectively
  • 6 practices that help nurture a culture of learning in remote work environments
  • The role of managers in supporting learning for remote workers
  • The benefits of investing in a learning culture within remote work environments


Moving past common challenges to develop talent in remote teams effectively

Organizations must make an intentional effort to deliver effective development programming for hybrid and remote workers. Only 15% of managers say they are comfortable managing remote and hybrid teams, according to McKinsey

Growing these employees will take a significant commitment, but companies often find themselves under-resourced. These factors can contribute to employees being overwhelmed with work, leading to burnout and disengagement. 

“Employees want to be able to learn and grow, but they need the time and headspace to do it,” says Taylor.

Another challenge is the need for more innovative approaches to promoting continuous learning. Many organizations rely on outdated methods such as traditional performance management, generic group training sessions, or one-on-one training that may not effectively engage employees. 

There is an increasing disconnect between employees’ needs and companies’ solutions. As employee needs for personal and professional growth have grown, so has the gap between their expectations and the resources or solutions available.

6 practices that help nurture a culture of learning in remote work environments

While remote and hybrid work structures present unique challenges, there are ways to support engagement and learning regardless of where employees work. Here are six practices you can implement to support a learning culture with remote teams.

  1. Give people time for development: Carving out time for employees to develop their skills is crucial. Empower them to delegate tasks, lighten their workload, or manage their time more effectively so they can focus on learning during the workday. 
  2. Be willing to invest in your people: Demonstrate your commitment to professional development by funding training and showing its value. Skill building requires effort from your employees and will benefit your company long term. Include skill-building and development in job descriptions, and make it clear that you support and invest in employee development goals and growth.
  3. Align investment with desired outcomes:  Don’t compromise on the quality of your development programs. Ensure your investment in development aligns with the desired outcomes so that you have the best chance of filling critical skill gaps and hitting company goals. Avoid cutting corners, as effective programs to develop talent will come with a process that should be followed for meaningful results.
  4. Provide personalized development experiences: Offer personalized resources tailored to each individual’s needs to be sure you identify specific skill gaps and provide targeted support. Everyone on your team can improve skills, but they’ll each have different needs. This focused approach leads to higher engagement and better returns on investment.
  5. Offer ongoing feedback: Give people feedback intentionally and have processes for giving meaningful feedback based on observable behaviors. Ongoing feedback helps people feel seen and recognized, reinforcing their learning and recognizing progress toward employee development goals.
  6. Make learning meaningful: Connect employee learning to a clear purpose by explaining the impact and importance of development both for the company and the individual. This clarity and sense of purpose inspires and motivates employees to pursue real growth and innovation.

Learning how to develop talent within these remote teams can help keep everyone connected and contributing to larger company goals.
The role of managers in supporting learning for remote workers

Managers play a crucial role in supporting learning for remote workers by providing recognition, feedback, and guidance. Since managers work closely with their teams, they are best positioned to observe and appreciate their growth.

“Feedback from managers and other leaders in the organization is most impactful,” says Taylor. “It shouldn’t come from HR or other random sources, but instead from the people employees work with most closely.”

Managers who are equipped with tools and resources to track skill development can give specific, meaningful feedback. By reviewing assessments, they can see how an employee has improved over time and provide targeted praise. 

Simple acknowledgments of progress can significantly enhance motivation and a sense of accomplishment. Managers who actively recognize and support their team’s development foster a positive and productive remote work environment.


The benefits of investing in a learning culture within remote work environments

Innovation is one of the most significant advantages that a learning culture drives. When employees are supported in ongoing development, they generate new ideas and communicate them more effectively, leading to greater innovation within the organization.

“Organizations with continuous learning and development are going to be more innovative,” says Taylor. “People will come up with new ideas and have the confidence to bring them forward.”

Continuous learning and development also improve employee retention. Employees who feel they are growing and developing are more likely to stay with the company and continue contributing. The resulting boost in engagement can lead to better job performance as employees build deeper connections to the company and grow their impact over time.

These benefits translate to better organizational outcomes and help protect companies from the cost of employee turnover. With higher employee retention and increased innovation, companies can also deliver better for their customers, increasing satisfaction and growth.

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