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Employee Training and Development during TOUGH Times

April 9, 2020 Shankar Krishna elearning
Employee training and development IDEAON

Turbulent times call an increased understanding of employee training and development.

We see job attrition happening already due to dynamic conditions. How does a company retain the same productivity with a smaller set of people ?

A training and development program is driven by strategic business needs. Its purpose is to identify gaps in employee knowledge, then use education to amplify skill sets.

The ultimate goal of any company’s training and development program is to improve business by closing the gaps in knowledge using learning solutions.

The words themselves, training and development, are often used synonymously and concurrently. It is important to note these are in fact, two different processes.

Employee development has a broad scope and is seen as a talent-nurturing, continuous cycle. Development programs improve executives’ personal skills long-term and can be applicable to a wide range of talent.

Employee training, on the other hand, is a specific session or series of sessions with a clear objective that focuses on a particular task or operatives.

An example of employee training in a company that’s looking to boost performance within the Human Resources department is an HR training session that coaches the team on how to effectively use a new onboarding feature. In this training, there is a clear objective, and the staff members will immediately apply their learning to their specific job tasks.

Employee development doesn’t need to be limited to the HR staff. A development session on the importance of communication and how to effectively communicate across different modes would be beneficial to any staff member and, ultimately, leads to improved business practices. The benefits of development tend to be long-term, but when a company commits to upskilling their executives they’ll see tremendous ROI.

The Importance of an Effective Employee Training & Development Program

“The Price an organization pays for poor or no-training is greater than the cost of developing the training”.

If your company does not yet have a strong employee training and development program, you may be thinking, “this sounds great and all, but won’t it be expensive?” On the contrary, a business that does not invest in learning and development will find itself falling behind the competition, losing talent, and money, since a robust skill development training program allows staff at all levels to advance their soft skills while promoting upskilling that will lead to better business practices. Personality development training motivates employees in their current position and encourages them to advance within the company.

Corporations with training and development programs see measurable ROI due to increased engagement, higher productivity levels, upward mobility of current talent, and incentive employees

Top 4 Benefits of Employee Training & Development for your Business

There are many valuable benefits to starting and maintaining an effectual training and development program for your employees. Here are our top four most compelling advantages that will improve your business practices and see the highest return on your investment:

  • It allows you to identify and develop skill gaps in-house

When you have a learning and development team dedicated to your business, they bring the resources necessary to identify gaps in knowledge before they become an issue (more on that later). Companies without a proper training and development program find that they aren’t aware of skill gaps until they’re so apparent, they begin to negatively impact the business.

With improved skill development courses, you can address knowledge gaps efficiently and keep all your training in-house. The alternative to in-house training and development is a third party learning program. While these can be beneficial, they cannot be tailored specifically to fit your needs.

A training team that’s familiar with your brand, as well as your specific objectives, can deliver learning solutions to best fit your requirements. This solution is more cost-effective, long-term.

Company leadership will also gain valuable insight into the strengths and areas for improvement in different departments. In a company without a unified training program, this awareness tends to be limited to department heads.

Requiring that each department head report their teams training needs as they arise is a huge obstacle (especially in a larger organization) because not every training request can be fulfilled. With improved training and development programs, training needs across all departments can be identified, prioritized, and included in the budget for the year, instead of on a case-by-case basis.

This is especially important in the current distributed work environment. With teams working globally and remotely, establishing a uniform knowledge-base and best-practices access point is crucial.

  • It fosters a culture for learning 

Your company’s culture goes beyond your mission statement and vision and into the day-to-day work of your employees. A positive culture is good for employee morale and job satisfaction, which in turn is good for your brand!

One way to manage the culture in your company and steer it in a positive direction is by fostering a culture for learning. A culture for learning in the workplace is one that embraces a growth mindset from the top-down so that staff views learning as an opportunity, not an obligation. It encourages innovation and shows employees that you’re invested in their professional future.

Staff members that feel supported in their workplace are more likely to stay with your company long-term. Learning and development research for the year 2018 reports “companies without staff engaged in learning are twice as likely to lose staff before three year.

Employee retention contributes to a positive workplace culture and helps your staff feel connected. Not to mention, upskilling in-house talent saves a huge sum on recruiting new talent.

Establishing a culture for learning in your workplace may seem like a daunting task, especially if your business is just beginning to develop its L&D strategy. Don’t let this get in the way of making positive changes! Start small, every step towards building your learning culture is a positive one and will ultimately lead to a more satisfied, productive workforce and an impressive reputation for your company.

  • It gives your company a competitive advantage

Hopefully, you’re starting to connect the dots by now- a company with a powerful strategy for skill development training and personality development training that identifies and closes knowledge gaps in-house produces more skilled employees who are satisfied with their work.

This combination leads to a more productive workforce. Employees who participate in meaningful skill development courses are less likely to make mistakes or procedural errors. There’s less wasted time so that business can run smoothly from the bottom up.

We’ve already mentioned this, but it’s so important it bears repeating: employees who work for an organization that’s dedicated to investing in their own talent are less likely to leave their job. Companies with a reputation for low staff turnover are more desirable to their clients.

When your staff is 100% comfortable with current best-practices and feels supported in their long-term development of communication and leadership skills, they’re more likely to get on board with new initiatives that require training.

Look at it this way, if an organization with weak learning culture tries to introduce a new technology or business practice, the staff would be overwhelmed. How would you expect staff who lack confidence in their existing skills or who see how their gaps in knowledge of current practices negatively impact their day-to-day productivity to be excited about adding one more thing to their workload?

Companies with a great culture for learning, on the other hand, are staffed with talent who leverage the benefit of new technologies and business practices and are more excited by the challenge. When your company is able to embrace the latest and greatest in its field, you’ll be unstoppable!

  • It allows your entire team to collaborate and idea-share

Once you solidify a training and development strategy, you’ll notice important details that you weren’t previously aware of. Inconsistencies within departments will become more apparent, but so will their strengths.

Global organizations will be better able to unify concurrent departments across all locations. If your HR training strategy in the United States is different from the approach in China, how can you be sure your brand is being accurately represented?

Instead, a robust L&D approach unifies your company (whether it’s global or not) and promotes collaboration. With global staff development, corporations can bring staff from different areas together and allow them to connect and collaborate in a way they wouldn’t have been able to without an employee development program.

Another significant benefit of strategizing your training and development approach is that you’ll recognize the strengths and talents within your company, then use knowledge-sharing to drive growth.

You might find that an employee in the IT department has a desktop support strategy that customer service representatives could be employing in their communication with customers. Or maybe your manufacturing department in Brazil has been using a time-saving process that would be useful in all your plants.

Identifying and leveraging subject-matter experts or best practices that already exist in your company has the double benefit of showing recognition to specific employees and saving you money looking outside the company for experts and strategies. And you can’t do this until you’ve formed a definite plan for employee training and development.

Methods of Training and Development

Successful companies use a multi-pronged approach to implementing both training and development initiatives. Here are some common methodologies.

Instructor-led Training (ILT)

When you think of traditional learning, this is probably the first thing that comes to mind. In ILT, a designated trainer leads a face to face session where participants listen to presentations and interact with other attendees.

Many traditional learners like the environment created by ILT. A designated room and time for training can help staff to focus on the learning objectives. Additionally an in-person instructor has the ability to personalize learning based on the individual learner’s needs in the room, which can be beneficial to the variety of learning types that exist in your company.

ILT courses come with challenges. Since you’re relying on a trainer to implement the session, there’s going to be an element of human error. Multiple trainers will be required for global audiences, and even the same trainer may deliver the session differently depending on the day and the audience, so establishing business process standardization with ILT is difficult.

Another inconvenience of ILT is its inflexibility. Scheduling a space and time for the intended audience can be a nightmare. As part of the training and development program, corporations must determine how to deliver this instruction to employees who call in sick, or new hires and how to manage the knowledge gaps that will exist until key personnel can receive the same training.

eLearning

Here’s a great solution to the inconveniences of instructor-led training. In eLearning, companies can deliver learning solutions to their employees using technology that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

Here are some of our favorite eLearning formats that you can leverage to deliver both skill-based and personality development training to your staff:

  • Self-paced learning modules
  • Video learning
  • Online resources housed in a common repository
  • Scenario-based learning
  • Micro-learning

With eLearning, companies can choose the best online delivery format for the type of training they need to deliver. Staff can access the learning whenever and wherever it is convenient for them (whether it’s during the workday, on the weekend, or on the bus home).

In ILT, it’s not as easy to access learning once you’ve left the training environment. You’re reliant upon the notes you took, the resources you were given (if any), and your own memory. With eLearning, you can access the content again, on-demand. This means you’re more likely to use your new learning (and use it correctly) no matter how much time has passed since your training.

An important consideration in the development of any training program is how you will evaluate its effectiveness. It can be frustrating to find that training you’ve invested in isn’t entirely producing the desired results. With eLearning, it’s easy to update your content and alert your users to the changes. This is much more cost-effective than re-training your trainers and scheduling a follow-up session for your entire audience.

Some employees are intimidated by eLearning, so it’s essential to keep your audience in mind when choosing a training format. You can roll-out eLearning in a way that makes it accessible to all staff, including the less tech-savvy crowd.

Some companies even set aside a time and space where employees can participate in their first eLearning session in the same room, with the support of someone who’s more confident in using technology. The nice thing about this is that you probably only have to do it once or twice, when your staff gets the hang of it they’ll be self-directed learners in no time!

Blended Learning

Blended learning is a unique combination of ILT and eLearning in which staff can receive foundational training in an online format, followed by instructor-led sessions that can include the personalized learning element that exclusively online courses lack.

For companies that haven’t yet introduced eLearning, the blended approach can be a great transition that doesn’t overwhelm staff who lack the confidence to dive into self-directed, computer-based learning.

With blended learning, you experience the flexibility and convenience of eLearning, without losing the face-to-face collaboration that is often missing in eLearning. The learning audience can interact with targeted knowledge at their own pace, then apply their learning during in person activation or scenario-based training.

The Verdict on Training Formats

If you’re looking for the best ROI, an eLearning approach is the best way to go. It’s cost-effectiveness far outweighs its inconveniences and it’s relatively easy to support the more resistant staff members. For companies who are newer in the development of their L&D strategy, a blended approach is a great balance between ILT and eLearning formats.

The Training and Development Process

When you’re new to implementing a program for employee training and development, the process can be overwhelming. There is a lot that goes into the development, design, and implementation of effective training.

Your learning and development team (whether you have one already or you’re looking to start one) should be experts on the training and development process. Once you form a strategy and budget for the expenses, they should be able to take the steps necessary to identify skill gaps and opportunities for personality development, then implement learning solutions effectively.

However, it helps if upper management understands this process too, so here’s a quick overview of what an efficient training and development process looks like:

  • Conducting the Needs Assessment

A common misconception about employee training is that, once you identify a knowledge gap, you should just dive into the creation of the learning solution. For many companies that lack a strong L&D strategy, this is their best course of action.

However, when your L&D team is given the space and time to develop an effective strategy, they’ll be able to first conduct a needs assessment. This is the process that allows them to determine what employees don’t know that’s contributing to wasted time or ineffective process.

Without a thorough needs assessment, a business is reliant on individual team members or department heads to self-report problems in their departments. By the time they get around to it, the skill gap is probably already causing problems! With a needs assessment you can identify gaps before they cause issues.

Different instructional designers conduct their needs assessment in different ways, but typically all rely on a combination of data like staff surveys, performance results, sales numbers and observational data from one-on-one interviews with employees at different levels.

  • Creating an action plan

After the needs assessment has been completed, you gain a clear picture of where you can implement learning solutions to close gaps and improve your business.

Your L&D team will need input from stakeholders that allows them to prioritize training. In other words, which learning solutions have the greatest cost to benefit ratio? From here, you can choose which learning solutions to develop first and budget for future learning opportunities.

  • Identifying learning objectives

With a clear action plan in place, the next step is in identifying the specific learning objectives of the training in development: what do you want your staff to know or do as a result of this training opportunity?

The learning objectives will drive the content and how you evaluate if staff are able to meet your expectations.

  • Marketing your training

This is an important step that is often completely overlooked, and it’s especially important if your company is new to rolling out employee training.

Before you send your staff an email about a required training, you should get them to buy into the idea. Advertise the new opportunity in creative ways, preview the training, and explain the benefits so that employees understand the importance of the learning before they participate.

  • Implementing and evaluating training

Once the training has been designed and you’ve hyped up your staff about the opportunity, it’s time for the roll-out! Now, your employees are engaging in the training and you’re able to see the benefits play out in real-time.

The job isn’t over yet, though. In an agile approach to staff training and development, it’s necessary to evaluate the session after the implementation and recalibrate as needed to maximize the benefits of training and boost ROI.

The Future of Training

There are many exciting developments in the world of learning and development, once your business has a handle on its strategy for employee training, there are many different areas you can explore for how to take your employee development to the next level.

Here are a few innovative trends that we’re excited about implementing with businesses looking to step up their L&D game:

  • Personalized learning
  • Informal learning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Experiential learning
  • Gamification

Closing Thoughts

A strong approach to employee training and development results in happier, more productive employees. High morale in the workplace not only contributes to a positive company culture, it’s better for your bottom line.

While training solutions do require an initial investment, the ROI is exponential, not to mention the money the company saves in outside training costs and recruiting. The payoff of in-house L&D pays off long-term, and it pays off big! Especially if you’re investing in eLearning solutions, which are the most cost-effective way to close skill gaps and encourage skill development. The way that the modern workforce approaches learning is changing every day. This generation of talent views staff development as a given, not a bonus when seeking employment. So how will you strengthen your approach to learning and development to remain a competitive brand?

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