Essential Not Optional: Why Employee Training & Development Matters
By Karmen Blackwood
Employee training and development is essential for your organization’s success. It is important to ensure your employees’ skills, abilities and knowledge levels are being regularly updated. There are a variety of reasons for employee training and development, including (but not limited to):
· Onboarding new hires
· Individual employee development plans, where you are training to fill a skill or knowledge gap, address a performance issue or prepare the employee to take on greater managerial and/or leadership responsibilities
· Succession planning, where you have identified high-potentials and are grooming the next generation of leaders
· Addressing technology changes and providing the skills and knowledge needed to leverage new and emerging technologies
· Addressing legal and/or regulatory issues and changes
· Helping your team address a range of issues and opportunities around growth and change, including helping the team and organization respond and adapt to structural change in the economy
Organizations should develop a solid organizational training and development plan that includes a selection of public, open-enrolment, programs of choice for employees’ individual learning needs and custom in-house training for team training and development needs.
Some of the key benefits for organizations who make employee training and development a priority include the following:
Timely and relevant training helps boost productivity. By closing skills, knowledge and performance gaps, and arming your employees with new ideas, best practices and skills that they can put into practice in their jobs right away, their competence, ability and confidence levels increase. As a result, these employees are able to make better decisions, and do their jobs smarter and more efficiently.
Return on Investment (ROI)
By making training and development a strategic priority of the organization, and implementing it in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, a company can benefit from measurable ROI. You can measure for impact, for qualitative and quantitative ROI, and there are various ways to do so. For example, you can do pre- and post-training assessments and measure the improvement; you can then translate this into financial return when you calculate the value of saved time, increased productivity, increased sales. It is important for organizations to view training and development as an investment, not an expense, and to leverage training and development for the achievement of business/organizational goals. Investment in employee training and development should be regarded as a capital investment where you will look for ROI.
Increased Employee Satisfaction and Retention
We all know the costs of high turnover. By investing in employees training and development, you are helping your employees feel more connected, valued, accountable, focused, and part of the team. And while we cannot expect any employee to stay with an organization for their entire career – nor do we necessarily want them to – it has been proven to increase employees’ sense of loyalty and decrease turnover.
Most people, by nature, want to learn new things, expand their knowledge base and skills set, and grow as professionals. Most people do want to be able to advance in their careers. When the organization has invested in their development, both the company and the individual can reap great rewards. Not only can training and development be a tool for filling knowledge and skills gaps, but also a mechanism for rewarding employees who are high-potentials, high-achievers.
The subtext of all training and development – particularly in-house (custom) programs – is always teambuilding. These initiatives tend to bring employees closer together, strengthen culture, and help individual team members identify new partners, collaborators, mentors and subject-matter experts within the organization.
Fostering an Organizational Learning Culture
It is important to foster a learning culture at your organization, one where expectations are clearly set from the outset, and where the benefits for the employee and for the organization are shared. It is also important to be able to point to success stories within the organization and to always walk the talk.
In order to ensure their success, it is important to have a plan in place for the transfer of knowledge back at the workplace. You can encourage the employee to implement the key things they learned right away, and you can create common language and frameworks across your organization by ensuring there is consistency in your training and development approach.
By sending your employees to open enrolment (public) programs where they can network with their peers at different organizations and across industries, they are provided with the forum to test ideas in a safe environment and discuss ideas and best practices that they can bring back to their organization. They should be encouraged to apply these new ideas to their own workplace immediately, and also to share ideas with their teams back at the organization. One way of doing this is to encourage the employee to host a “lunch and learn”, where they can present the key take-aways to their teammates. This will also help with the transfer of knowledge, as it will help to reinforce a culture of learning and create common language and frameworks for the team.
At the end of the day, it is our employees that are our greatest assets. While we upgrade our plant and equipment, we need to renew individual skills sets, upgrade our teams, and arm them with what they need to know to remain competitive and do their best work. In this increasingly competitive global marketplace, the organizations who invest in employee training and development are the ones who will win.