Companies who train and develop their employees pride themselves on that fact; that they are a learning organization. This is usually at the top of their recruitment adverts – to showcase the fact that they are a learning organization. This is good! This is very good! As a matter of fact, 7 out of 10 people say that training and development opportunities influence in their decision to stay with a company, that’s a whopping 70% of employees and / or potential employees and 68% of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy; but also interestingly, a staggering total of $13.5M per year per 1,000 employees is lost due to ineffective training costs by companies and 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year.
This leaves us in an unhealthy, yet, fortunate dilemma. Unhealthy in the sense that when gotten wrong, i.e, when training is proven to be ineffective, 40% tend to leave; fortunate in the sense that 68% – 70% of potential employees and employees see training and development as an important workplace policy. It might seem simple to some by just saying “well, don’t train them poorly and just give them good training and development” but you see, if it were this simple, companies would have done this. I am assuming some or most of the companies that contribute to that $13.5M loss can be found in the top-tier of most successful companies over the last century; companies who know how to succeed!
Anyways, am I writing this post just to scare you from investing into your staff or to confuse you further about the decision to invest or not? Definitely not! Let me get this straight before we go further: I am for employee training and development. Ya’ats Advisory Services is for employee training and development and we believe it’s a corporate responsibility of any organization to invest in their staff. Everyone that comes in contact with you should leave a better person!
Having said that, we believe if companies can tailor their training and development workplace policies to their various organizational environment and challenges, they shouldn’t have to worry about giving poor and ineffective training. Research tells us that 70% of learning and development on the job occurs informally. What this means is that employees are being developed and trained even without theirs and the company’s knowledge. Employees learn most of what they know between their first day on the job and the day they leave the job or retire. Employees actually do develop; they develop their communication skills, their critical thinking and problem-soling skills, collaboration skills and creativity and innovation skills – well, some much more than the other, but they actually do develop themselves even without consciously knowing it. So why do companies then spend a lot of money training and developing employees, who, naturally, will develop over the course of time. The same way you just don’t plant a seed in the ground and let it grow naturally: you water it, you feed it, you weed it – basically, you invest in it. But why do you do that? Why do you need to invest in the seed and not just let it grow naturally, which it would? You do it because you have a vision for the seed, you know how you want the seed to look like and you even have a purpose for it when it grows. Likewise, your employees, you should have a vision for your company and you should invest in your employees’ growth based on the vision you have for your company.
I can never understand why a restaurant should invest in training their staff in computer programming or ICT skills. Your employees don’t need programming skills or ICT skills, they need communication skills, they need life-coaching skills – they come in contact with all kinds of people and if they can touch one or two customer lives by using a life-coaching skill, you’ve just won a loyal customer right there! Again, not all of your restaurant staff come in contact with people, some are cooks, some are admin but the waiters do come in contact with people. This is just an example of how companies miss it when training and developing their staff. They feed them with the wrong diet for growth! They force unnecessary training on their staff. Training that hasnothing to do with the company vision!
Don’t feed your staff with the wrong diet for growth. These are five simple and practical steps to getting employee training and development right.
Step 1: Look inward for growth opportunities
First question to consider is this: “What are our weaknesses” and see these weaknesses as growth opportunities. Find out what it is your employees lack as a whole (i.e the organization), as groups (i.e the different teams / departments) and then as individuals. When these growth opportunities are found, see which of these opportunities fit into your company’s vision and goals. In a situation where a growth opportunity for customer service is found, you don’t need to train all of your staff immediately, but you need to train immediately your front line staff. Whereas, if creativity is an opportunity, you might need to train your back room staff almost immediately but not exactly so with your front line staff. The key is this: There is no formula; be adaptive to your situation!
Step 2: Look outward for opportunities and compare your inward strengths and growth opportunities with them
After you have sorted out the first step and / or before taking action, you can also look externally and find opportunities and see if any of these opportunities fit into your company vision and goals. Compare these external opportunities with your inward growth opportunities and then train and develop where necessary. For example, creativity, as an inward growth opportunity, can be compared with variety of products / service found as an external opportunity. These opportunities guide you into the next step.
Step 3: Develop based on these opportunities
There’s no point finding out these opportunities, both internal and external, and not acting upon them. There’s also no way you will develop your employees based on these opportunities found and not achieve employee satisfaction. Only 8% of employees that are actively disengaged intend to stay in their organization; which means 92% of employees actively disengaged intend to leave their organization. What this means is this: employees want to be engaged! Nobody wants to be hired and paid to do nothing contrary to popular perception! For you to train your employees based on opportunities found means that you intend to do something about these opportunities, which means engaging your trained employees.
Step 4: Come up with effective ways to assess training progress.
Why is this one of the steps to getting employee training right? Because by doing this you are able to monitor both employee and company progress from opportunity to competitive advantage or from company weakness to strength. By not doing this, you cannot tell when and if these opportunities have become an advantage to you or if those weaknesses engaged by employee training have become strengths. This is a key step in getting your employee training right. You can find out if your employees need more training or more practical work or nothing at all in this step.
Step 5: Come up with company policies that can keep these skills within your company capabilities
This step is aimed at achieving two purposes: to ensure that these skills acquired by the company for their employees remain to some extent the company’s skills and not the employee’s skills (will explain this in more detail); and to minimize the trust issues some employers have concerning employees leaving after being trained by the company.
The first purpose is to avoid an employee or set of employees becoming the company. Meaning, nothing can be done without them. Companies can easily fall at the mercy of an employee or a set of employees; employees they trained and invested in. Some other companies claim to not invest so much into their employees based on the fear of the employees leaving after being invested in, especially for service-based companies.
Company policies like non-solicitation agreements can be included into your employee contracts. Coaching / mentoring is another good policy for keeping these skills acquired by means of company employee-training policy within the company. Coaching and mentoring is usually associated with the elderly, more experienced person coaching or mentoring the young and naïve but why does it always have to be so? You can come up with a company policy that states that for every new skill acquired by means of company employee-training policy by an employee (regardless of job position / title) should be passed-on to another employee after XX number of years from the training completion date.
What this means is that every time you invest in an employee, it is expected that this employee pass-on the knowledge and experience acquired by means of this exact investment to another staff – most preferably, a new staff. For example, let’s say your company trains an employee in communication and collaborative skills and based on your company’s training assessment progress, this training was effective. This employee is expected to personally train another employee of the company or employee’s choice (depends on the agreement between both parties – choose which is more suitable for your company) after 1.5 years from the training completion time in this same area of communication and collaboration.
Sounds pretty simple right! I believe this is a policy that can work wonders in your organization if you get it right. It’ll help keep every skill invested into your employees within the company and would help minimize the trust issues concerning these “super” employees trained by you. If you’re not sure how to draft this policy or even put into practice anything you’ve learned in this post, we can help you with it. Please contact us.
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