The Value of Training Employees

The Value Of Training Your Employees

Monday, April 27, 2015

There was a time when you would turn up to work, do your hours and go home. Occasionally you would get a few days out of the office for training. This was a nice time to meet new people, go somewhere different for work and learn some new skills which might make your work day easier and may well propel your career.

These days, savvy and ambitious employees are more likely to tap into the myriad of self-training options out there to get ahead. They'll be aggressive about it and unless you as a boss can find a way to develop some loyalty, they won't mind moving to where their skills are in demand. You might not even know what they're upskilling to

Research on small business trends suggest that more employees are studying on their own time and on their own agenda largely because they feel their employers don't have the capacity to provide the training they need.

If you are a boss, this should ring alarm bells. Employee churn is a major cost and an administrative headache for small business owners. You can spend a lot of time and money equipping a talented worker only for someone else to cherry-pick him/her and gain the benefits.

A major reason smart, young employees move on is because they feel training options at their current workplace are limited. While self-training can be useful, if they're going off on their own without your knowledge or input, you are losing a massive resource: their willingness to learn. And you may lose them too.

What can be done about this?

Firstly, small business managers will have to overcome the common come backs for not engaging their employees in training courses. Basically, this comes down to two points:

We can't afford to look that far ahead
We're too busy and have no time for it

Both excuses are just that: excuses.

Training is considered by most to be a tried and true course to take to address under-productivity and staff performance. The Australian Industry Group cites figures, which underline the accepted value of staff training. The data they present is that almost 35% of companies have under-performing staff. Training is listed as the most popular form of fixing this problem, used by 81% of employers.

While it’s understandable that small business managers are dealing with multiple time consuming challenges, training should still be factored in, at least as a consideration. Ultimately, forward planning and time management are two of the top priorities of any well run business. Take a look around; few businesses are truly successful without serving these two factors – and other business pillars such as profitability, of course.

So, get past the self-imposed obstacles.

Moving forward, the most obvious solution is to find ways to develop an in-house training culture. Management should be getting attuned to the needs of their employees to learn more and to develop, and should be active in finding the means for them to do that.

One way this can be done is by a mentoring and coaching program. Employee surveys often reflect the fact that high potential employees value access to leaders who can offer a more personal and individually geared means of developing needed skills.

There are numerous services that can provide this on an out-sourcing basis. But it's also worth looking at the skills sets you have within your own group. For instance, board members or directors might enjoy the opportunity to put something back and to bring on the next generation of talented employees.

It can be a great way to provide skills for the employee and to direct the training to areas where the company most needs the skill sets.

For employees, such a resource would be valued as its fashioned to the industry, and even the company they are already employed with. Finally, in-house mentors often carry the benefit of hands-on and directly applied experience.

Looking outside the company is not without benefits either. Allowing and even encouraging enrolment in formal external learning courses for employees also makes sense. Eliciting interest from employees is a great means of finding out where their heads are at and what career interests are motivating them.

If possible, allow time off work or even subsidise study fees. This is a simple, relatively cheap and effective way to help your workers get the training they need, and that you know is required.

It doesn't hurt either that by doing so, you're building a relationship of trust and buy-in that your employee will appreciate.

The US-based Association for Talent Development recently released a report which concluded that 98% of employees felt that innovation is important for the future success of their company. But only, 19% felt they were working for one they consider innovative.

You can read the writing on the wall there. The training and development gap is very evident.

Relationships between staff and management and owners are often the crucial variant in the running of a successful business. Building a culture of mutual trust and shared learning can be a great way of bridging whatever gaps may exist between the layers of any given business operation. This tactic keeps everyone on the same page and generates the feeling that everyone is fulfilling their role in developing an innovative and profitable business that is fun to work with and is considered a good future bet.

Forbes columnist Victor Lipman wrote an interesting column a few years ago about how businesses can best improve employee productivity. In his “top 7” list, he named training directly as one of the best means of achieving this goal.

But, the other areas he suggested, such as feedback mechanisms, treating staff as individuals, offering support and providing good leadership models might also be seen as relating to training and development in various ways.

The bottom line is that attracting good people to work for you is vital to your business success. Holding them is just as valuable. Given that the vast majority of savvy employee prospects are keen to the point of obsessive about training and development, it seems a wise call to at least investigate the options available.