Many businesses are laser focused on the next sales goal or meeting year-end numbers that they forget a vital step. Training. Many employees and organizations think of training as an afterthought, a budget drain or even wasted time taken away from the day. In actuality, great training can make for smarter employees and an increase in sales. It can also decrease costly employee turnover.
HR Magazine found that companies investing $1,500 or more per employee in a year on training averaged 24 percent higher profit than companies investing in less training. In another study, The American Society for Training and Development gathered training information from over 2,500 firms and found that companies offering more rebost training programs have 218 percent higher income per employee than those that offered less training.
What are the benefits of training and development?
The importance of training offers many benefits for companies of all sizes and industries. Let’s take a look at some of the major ones.
No matter what industry you are in, times change. Maybe there are advancements in technology or changes in product offerings. No matter what the changes are, you don’t want your company to be left behind the competition. Great training can help keep employees current.
Sharpen employee skill sets:
Every employee naturally has strengths and weaknesses. Even employees who are in the same field or department. Ongoing training is key to building each employee’s skill set. This will not only improve everyone’s on job performance, but will build confidence.
We have touched on this a little bit, but employees who are constantly learning are more likely to stay as employees. Turnover is costly. According to The Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a given position is 42 days. That is a lot of money and time wasted! Instead, give current employees several chances to increase their skill set and invest in their development.
Promote from within
HR departments are already overwhelmed. The less time and money they need to recruit management level employees the better. A great training and development program increases employee learning as they grow at the company. That way when a new position opens up at a higher level, promotion can be given from within. Not only does this save the company money, but will create happy and engaged employees.
HR recruitment tool
When a company is looking for new great talent, they want the best. They also want a stellar prospect to choose them over the competition. One tool in recruitment is a great training and development program. Showing potential employees that they can sharpen existing skills and also take classes in areas they want to improve in, is a great employee perk.
What should a corporate learning program accomplish?
There are so many pros to building a strong training program for your company. Now that you know the importance of training, how do you ensure the success of your program? The first step is determining your learning goal. Without a strong goal all those hours spent crafting training materials won’t be effective. Plus, your intended audiences will walk away feeling the program did not meet their needs.
Create a strong learning goal
When creating your training goal, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do my company goals align with my learning goal?
Instead of focusing on the details of your training program, think about what overall goals you have for your business. Then determine what your learning goal will be. That way, all goals are tied together and there is a clear focus.
2. Who are my audiences?
Next determine who will be affected by your training program. Yes, your employees taking the training, but who else in your organization will be involved in your learning platform? If you are a publicly-held company who uses on-going contractors, your audiences could be stakeholders, employees, freelancers, administrators, and team leads.
3. What do I want my employees to learn?
Although there is training at every employee level, if you look at your program overall, what is the program takeaway? Is this to bring employee learning to a certain skill level? Or to gain more in-depth product or service knowledge? Or maybe you want to retain the top industry talent and your training program will be a key employee motivator. Whatever it is, think big picture on what the impact of your training program will be.
4. How will I communicate my learning goal?
Finally, after you create a strong learning goal, how will you share this with all your audiences? It’s important that everyone understands what they should know after participating in the learning program.
Write objectives that define your learning goal
After you have created a strong goal, it’s time to create learning objectives to measure the success of your goal. Looking at the audiences you identified for your learning program, craft objectives for each audience. Before you begin to write, keep these notes in mind:
Three main components
Educational theorist Robert Mager identified three components all learning objectives should contain: performance, condition, and criteria. Keep these components top of mind when drafting each statement:
- Performance: What do you want employees to learn from your training program?
- Condition: How will your employees learn?
- Criteria: How will you measure what was learned?
Use Bloom’s Taxonomy
Because you most likely have employees at various career levels, training needs to be tailored to each of these employee learning tiers. Bloom’s Taxonomy was started in the 1950s by Dr. Benjamin Bloom to promote higher forms of thinking in the education field. But this same school of thought can be applied to employees in any company. Basically employees are grouped by six categories of learning:
- Knowledge: Employees learning new skills for the first time.
- Comprehension: Employees repeat back what was learning in their own words.
- Application: Employees apply what was learned on the job.
- Analysis: Employees take scenarios and interrupt how best to use on the job.
- Evaluation: Employees teach others what they have learned.
- Creation: Employees use new knowledge to create new learning tools.
Each objective you write should contain a timeframe or a point of reference. This way when you ask yourself if each objective was met, there is a clear yes or no answer. An example would be:
- Upon course completion a first-year employee will be able to identify all 20 product components.
To help craft your learning objectives, use action verbs. When you you use words like: identify, translate, test, and rank. Versus words like capable of, appreciate, be aware of, and know, you create objectives that are easy to measure success rates.
If you apply all of the above to creating learning objectives than they should be easy to analyze. If you don’t currently use a learning management system (LMS), partnering with the ideal vendor is ideal for this step in the process. Great LMS providers have reporting capabilities allowing you to measure each of your objectives and easily tweak what may not be working.
Methods of training and development
Once you have your training framework in place with your goal and learning objectives, it’s time to turn to tactics. How will you implement your training and development? What methods will you use? Who will run your training and where will it be held?
Types of training
Let’s look at what types of training are available. The main point to keep top of mind are who your audiences are and the various levels of learning each of them requires. Although there are several training types, here are the most common ones.
When you hire a new employee, yes you chose them for the skills they possess. But even if they have several years of industry knowledge, they do not know “your” company. The best way to get them up to speed quickly is through pre-onboarding training. The first days include routine tasks like filling out forms, gaining technology access, and issued company equipment. But why not incorporate the importance of training from the start? Use your LMS to automate the process and provide a/an:
- Welcome letter from the CEO
- Blueprint of the office to showcase where each department sits
- Calendar of key company events, birthdays, and work anniversaries
- Outline of additional training and development
- Brief survey on how the pre-onboarding process worked or didn’t
Technical skills training:
Every employee no matter what level can always learn new skills. And with industry advancements and technology improvements, skill training is critical to stay ahead of the competition.
Soft skills training:
This type of training works on “people” skills. Things like communication, presentation, and conflict resolution. Departments that can benefit from this type of training are human resources, sales, and customer service. Soft skill training is also great for cross-training like two departments that must work closely together. For example take a new website launch where developers must work with copywriters.
Depending on what industry you are in and if you are publicly-held or not, there is mandatory training. Most companies regardless on industry or type, will need to complete a sexual harassment and diversity training. Those companies in the financial sector will have compliance training and a law firm may have legal regulation training. All of this training needs to be considered when developing your training program.
Avoid training pitfalls
When you are creating a training program, you want to set yourself up for success. To give your program that chance, avoid these common mistakes.
Lack of training and development
Really take the time to create a program that functions for all employees and audiences that come in contact with it. Some companies rush through the training and development planning stages and forget key steps along the way. A lack of great training can lead to:
- Increased turnover
- Decreased sales
- Lack of product or service knowledge
- Unhappy customers
- Legal trouble
- Increased expenses
No training and development rollout
When you either develop a new training program or revamp an existing one, you want to create a companywide rollout. This should be an internal marketing push to show the importance of training for your employees. Not having a rollout will leave employees with questions and cause frustration. Within this marketing should be communication about the new program, why it is being implemented, what purpose is it providing, and most importantly, how employees will benefit.
Not using an LMS provider
Every company has their speciality and excels at it. When it comes to training and development, rely on an outside provider. After all, this is their specialty. Companies who try and create an entire training and development program themselves often spend more time and money than those that seek help. An LMS provider can:
- Provide a framework for all training materials to be housed
- Suggest new or creative training and development techniques
- Make onboarding simple by streamlining all paperwork
- Utilize a blended learning environments that caters to all employees
- Provide built-in customer service and I.T. support teams
Inflexible training program
Companies sometimes get set in their ways and as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Don’t fall into this trap. You want to maintain your status within your industry and the way to do this is to always be flexible and ready for change. This philosophy should apply to your training program as well.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Your training platform should scale with your company. If you grow or expand to new areas of expertise, so should your learning and development.
- Choose an LMS platform with extensive reports. You want to analyze your program often to see what’s working and what’s not.
- Include your employees and other audiences in your training program. Yes, they have their roles within the program, but allow them to give feedback on how they feel the program is running. Sometimes the best ideas or way to improve come from those who are interacting daily with the training.
Why the importance of training is necessary?
Training employees provides personal growth which leads to company growth. We talked about the importance of learning, the benefits, and how to build a strong training and development program. With that said, are you creating or revamping your training program? If so, what steps are you taking to ensure success?