Effective Workplace Education is Built Around Incentives
Asaf KotselAsaf Kotsel

Effective Workplace Education is Built Around Incentives

How Companies Can Personalize Cybersecurity Awareness Training

By Asaf Kotsel, CEO, Dcoya

The key to a successful workplace education platform is providing compelling behavioral incentives that keep employees engaged and help them apply what they learn. Too many employers treat workplace education as a box to check – they want to say the company has programs in place, but they aren’t willing to put in the necessary work to ensure that those programs are effective.

There are many ways companies can construct incentives that will educate employees and drive healthy behavioral change. For example, they can draw a link between educational programs and professional advancement. Over the past several years, employees have become increasingly focused on talent mobility and educational opportunities that will allow them to advance their careers. It’s also crucial to provide engaging and personalized educational content that maintains employees’ attention and leads to long-term information retention. Companies can’t check the training box if employees aren’t actually learning, and employees won’t benefit from educational programs that don’t provide information they can retrieve and deploy in the real world.

When companies give employees convincing reasons to learn and keep them engaged as they do so, they won’t just build a healthier workforce – they will also secure positive learning outcomes. When it comes to cybersecurity awareness training, this means employees will be equipped to keep the company safe from cyberattacks that can have devastating operational, financial, and reputational consequences. But no matter what you’re training employees to do, the process is all about finding the right incentives.

Meeting the demand for professional development

Employees recognize that workplace education is necessary to help them compete in an increasingly skills-based and global job market. A remarkable 77 percent of employees say they’re ready to learn new skills or completely retrain, while almost three-quarters say training is a matter of personal responsibility. It’s no surprise that the top action employers are taking to address skills and labor shortages is upskilling workers – a goal that’s even more important when there are two open jobs for every candidate who’s actively seeking work.

Employees want workplace education, but training content can’t be generic – it has to be relevant to their unique responsibilities, skill sets, and professional aspirations. A critical aspect of cybersecurity awareness training is real-world applicability. Employees have to understand exactly why they’re learning about common cyberattacks such as phishing – it’s extremely likely that they will encounter one of these attacks at some point, and they need to know what the red flags are and how to react.

Despite persistent inflation, the possibility of a recession, and other economic woes, the labor market remains strong. Companies are struggling to fill skills gaps, and they’re increasingly turning to workplace education to build a more productive and loyal workforce. When companies excel at talent mobility, they retain employees for nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it. Considering the role of workplace education in facilitating mobility, companies will rely on it even more heavily in the coming years.

Give employees a reason to keep paying attention

Any professional can tell you horror stories about sitting through exhausting, repetitive, and dull training content at some point in their lives. This content isn’t designed to keep employees engaged, help them retain what they learn, or secure sustainable behavioral change – it only exists as a superficial form of due diligence. Instead of meeting employees’ demands for professional development and building a better-educated workforce, too much workplace training alienates and frustrates employees.

One of the most reliable ways to keep employees engaged and help them fully absorb the information they learn is to personalize their educational content. This means content should be customized on the basis of each employee’s individual abilities, personality traits, and learning style. Personalized education offers several advantages: it reinforces learners’ strengths while identifying and addressing their weaknesses, tailors educational content to different roles and responsibilities within the company, and accounts for behavioral differences.

For example, some employees may be more curious than others, which increases the likelihood that they will click on a corrupt link in a phishing email. Others may be more fearful, which cybercriminals could exploit to coerce them into providing sensitive information or access. When companies focus on these individual characteristics, they will simultaneously provide the individual assistance employees need while capturing their attention with content that’s hyper-relevant to their specific circumstances.

Workplace education should never be an imposition

It’s common for emails and other prompts about workplace training to include the word “mandatory,” along with a demand for employees to complete the course by a specific date. At a time when employees are asking for professional development and educational programs, this is a tremendous wasted opportunity. Ninety-three percent of companies are concerned about employee retention, and the top strategy they’re deploying to improve retention is providing learning opportunities. However, if training content is monotonous and disengaging, employees will view it as a chore instead of a benefit.

According to Gallup, around one-in-five employees say they’re engaged at work – a situation which has led to huge decreases in morale and productivity around the world. Gallup reports that key elements of engagement include the availability of “opportunities to learn and grow” and the encouragement of employee development. This is yet another reminder that the evidence for the value of workplace education is overwhelming, and it demonstrates that training should never be forced on employees. Rather, training is a mutually beneficial way to help employees pursue their professional aspirations while creating a more capable corporate workforce.

The incentives to develop a personalized and engaging educational platform have never been clearer, and companies should be capable of articulating these incentives to their workforces. By getting all stakeholders on board with your workplace training program, you will ensure that this program leads to long-term behavioral change while increasing employee loyalty and productivity along the way.

About the Author

Effective Workplace Education is Built Around IncentivesAsaf Kotsel is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dcoya, a NINJIO subsidiary offering a sophisticated simulated phishing platform that helps cybersecurity leaders identify and address their employee’s individual vulnerabilities while tracking organizational risk reduction. With two decades of experience in sales and customer service, Asaf specializes in developing innovative business strategies and leading cross-functional teams to deliver class-leading solutions and enterprise growth.

Asaf can be reached on his LinkedIn page, as well as through the Dcoya website.

October 26, 2023

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