Employee training and development can instil fear into some company owners or management, as there seems, in some companies at least, to be this idea that if a company offers an employee training, that employee will leave and get another job elsewhere. I do not know where this idea originates, but I have worked for many companies that follow this ideology.
You never stop learning, and in the past, I have taken to learning outside of work with books and online courses to increase my knowledge and skillset, that is until now.
I now work as the Digital Marketing Manager at a forward-thinking software development company called Atlas Computer Systems Limited, that has an understanding and flexible staff training and development plan in place for all its employees, whether they are apprentices, degree placement students or full-time members of staff.
Career training and development is as important for the employee as it is for the company, as the employee I get new knowledge and skills to add to my skillset and the company gets a better-skilled and more rounded member of staff.
Employee training and development shouldn’t be viewed from either side as a burden and companies shouldn’t make the mistake that if they offer training staff will leave and get better jobs. With some careful consideration and planning, you can create an employee training and development plan that is engaging, productive and ultimately fun for your employees.
The importance of employee training and development
Today nothing stands still, especially in business or technology. New ideas, products, techniques and strategies are constantly being invented and old ways of doing things are being changed, updated or modernised. If, as an employer, you’re not training your staff on these new things, you risk falling behind your competitors or getting out of touch with the needs of your customers or clients, your staff need to always be learning new things.
A good employee training and development plan will help energize your company, facilitate greater employee engagement, boost employee morale and lead to greater productivity as it does here at Atlas.
But how do you start developing a training and development plan for your employees? Atlas begin by considering the benefits of employee training and development and how that training and development would help make their employees better at their jobs. Think of it like looking after a houseplant: training and development is the water that helps the plant (staff) grow.
Need convincing about the benefits of employee training? Then consider the following benefits:
- Staff training leads to greater productivity
- If your employees are kept up to date with the latest developments in your industry, they are far more likely to have better output. There’s nothing like new ideas or knowledge to invigorate your approach to your work.
- Employees will feel more engaged
A good training program will address the individual employee’s needs in relation to their day-to-day work, helping them to feel more confident in the importance and value of the work they are doing and to understand that they are building their career along with the business.
You can nurture and develop talent
Good training and employee development will identify and enhance the natural talent that already exists in your company, bringing benefits to your organisation and the employee. Think of it as another tool in your business arsenal: would you like to know that you have an underused piece of equipment?
Of course, the advantages listed above are not exhaustive, but it’s a good start, now you know the benefits, you have to create your plan…
Creating the employee training and development plan
Since you now know some of the major benefits of staff training and development, how do you go about creating an effective training and development plan?
This is a crucial step in the training and development process, and there are several points you’ll have to bear in mind. After all, designing an employee training plan can have a tremendous impact on the productivity of your staff and the success of your business. So, you should carefully consider the following:
1. One-size-fits-all doesn’t suit anybody
One of the biggest mistakes in training and development plans is the tendency to impose the exact same development program on every employee when we all have different jobs and roles to play. It’s demotivating and can lead to employee disengagement. Sure, you will have mandatory training targets, but you also must consider the individual, their job role and their growth within the company.
2. Identify employee needs
It’s vital that you can target exactly in what area each employee needs training. Clearly, someone who works in the software development team will require different tools in their skillset compared to someone working in the marketing department. After all, when else can staff training and development be more effective if not when it’s targeted to the individual?
A common approach to identifying these employee needs is through yearly appraisals, although at Atlas they simply ask you if you need any new training on a regular basis.
3. Be flexible, but have limits
It’s important to be flexible in your approach to training and development. For a start, you will need to consider when employees can do their training. There’s also the question of where they do it: if you have a globally dispersed team, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to bring them together in one place — this is where eLearning can prove extremely useful.
However, you will need time limits within which a given training target must be met, and you should agree these completion times with your employees.
4. Are your training and development plan objectives too big or too vague?
One issue that appraisers face is that a training goal is so big that it feels unachievable — a hugely demotivating situation for everyone involved. Same goes for vague objectives: having ‘Learn how to be more time conscious’ as a training target, as I have had, is like asking me to climb Mount Everest.
Appraisers themselves will also need training in creating a list of achievable, training targets for each employee, ones that can be realistically completed within agreed time limits.
5. Track employee progress
Employee training tracking reports are a key feature of your employee development program. They should begin from the moment the individual training and development has been agreed, then follow the employee’s progress through it, and end with checking they’ve completed the training target and given their feedback on the training and its outcomes.
You could also get the employee to do a short presentation to other members of staff about the course and what they learned so that new knowledge and skills can be passed on to other members of staff.
This process is a repeated cycle throughout your employee’s career within your company.
Your employee training and development plan needs the right tools
Once you’ve considered all the points above, you can think about how you’re going to deliver your employee training and development plan.
This used to consist of in-house training sessions and study days at various colleges or training centres, but there are now many eLearning platforms and courses that can allow your employees to study online at work and at home.
Your training development plan can now be offered seamlessly to your employees: And these tools come with robust reporting, gamification to boost engagement, and intuitive user interfaces to aid in less distraction and stimulate more learning.
So, don’t forget to gather your own criteria for choosing your Learning Management System (LMS) to implement your online training and development plan.
A great employee training and development plan takes in careful consideration of both the employee and the company’s future goals, but it more than pays for itself in the long-term.
You’ll have more motivated employees, greater engagement throughout the company, and a reputation for valuing and respecting your workforce, just like Atlas.
Remember to have a flexible approach that emphasizes individual merits and watch your company and business grow!