Training alone won't cut it: Driving development through learning
It’s no secret that people are leaving their jobs in record numbers, the latest from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 4.3 million Americans quit their job in January 2022. You may have heard this trend being called the Great Resignation or the Big Quit, regardless, it has made it hard for businesses to meet demand and even harder to keep their businesses staffed. So why are so many people quitting their jobs? Well, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, the number one reason is a tie between not making enough money and not having opportunities to advance in their careers. Both clearly require an investment, but it may be wiser to invest in a longer-term solution that can benefit all employees and help retain as well as find good employees – that solution is a training and development program.
The "and development" part here is very important. Training alone isn't going to cut it. Training someone to perform a specific task, operate a specific machine, or execute a specific process is certainly helpful and has a place in a formal training and development program, but it's only one part of the solution. The other equally important part is developing employees to broaden their skillset, allowing them the opportunity to advance their careers. Let's take a look at how to get there.
Benefits of training and development
Investing in a formal training and development program can help businesses in several ways. For example, cross-training employees to perform different functions provides more flexibility to replace employees who suddenly leave. In addition, developing existing employees’ skills so they can take on more responsibility gives you a stronger internal talent pool to promote from. Hiring a new employee is more costly than hiring from within, so having an internal promotion strategy will be important. Providing employees opportunities for growth can also improve motivation and increase both productivity and job satisfaction, which leads to better employee retention. Lastly, you can site your training and development program as a perk of working for your company, helping you recruit better talent.
Creating a successful training and development program
First things first — you need to commit to this and make it part of your company culture. Ongoing development should be part of what your company is all about. With that in mind, here are the areas you should consider to start off on the right foot with a training and development program:
- Budget: Set a budget for your program and make it part of your operating expenses to make it official. Typically, budgets for training and development are between 1 and 3 percent of your yearly salary budget but remember, you can start small and expand later.
- Training needs: Identify the training needs for your company, which should be a mix of job specific training and career development. Reach out to your employees and allow them to provide suggestions on areas they would like training or development in. This will help you get a sense of overall needs and engages your employees, making it more likely that they will participate.
- Measuring success: Think about how you’ll measure success of the program. This should be a mix of both program adoption, like course completion rates, and business outcomes, like reduction in errors when performing a specific task or movement on a succession path.
- Identifying mentors: Look at your teams and start to identify folks who can take on the role of mentors for other employees and help roll out the program. Having people who take on this role will not only help with program adoption but also provide valuable feedback so that you can adjust the program to meet employee’s needs.
Bringing your program to life
Technology will be critical in bring your training and development program to life. When evaluating learning management solutions, consider your needs today but also how those may evolve in the future and select a solution that meet both. Here are some things that you’ll want to look for in a solution:
- Modern, engaging experience: The reality is that employees expect the technology they use, even the solutions they use for work, to be modern and engaging. Plus, they want to be able to access everything from their phones or preferred device. If the solution you select doesn’t meet these needs, your adoption will likely be lower than if it does.
- Making it your own: The training you’re providing is for your employees and you want their experience in the solution to be an extension of your company, so ensure you can include your company’s logo and colors.
- Flexibility in creating content and courses: Being able to import or create content within the learning management solution will be key. Ensure that you have the ability to import a wide range of file types so you can create a content library in the solution and build courses from that content. You may also want to ask if there is a marketplace to purchase content in the event you can’t or don’t have the resources to create it on your own.
- Flexibility in course assignments: You’ll want to be able to determine and automate the assignment of courses by employee type, role, department, location, and other key characteristics. This will not only ensure that the right courses are getting assigned to the right employees, but it will save you time.
- Tracking learning that happens outside of the solution: Not all training will happen in the solution, for example, you may have on-the-job training where an employee must show their proficiency at a specific task alongside their manager, or in-person learning, both of which you still want to be able to track even if it’s outside of the learning management solution.
- Career development tracks: Being able to carve out designated courses that will help employees develop the skills to move up in their careers is a bit part of your program, so ensure that your solution can handle this as well.
- Real-time data that's easy to understand: You’ll need to track all types of metrics to help you measure success and give you important insights, so ensure that reporting is reliable, in real-time, and that there are intuitive dashboards to bubble up important information-at-a-glance.
Conclusion: Your people want a path forward
Employees have made it clear that if they don’t see a clear path to career development at their current company, they will quit and find it somewhere else. That’s why having a strong training and development program in place is critical for companies of all sizes. An investment in such a program can strengthen employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention while also helping to attract quality candidates. It’s a win-win all around with employees developing new skills and companies gaining a stronger pool of talent.
Of course now the question becomes how do you convince your leadership team that a training and development program is worth the investment? We've got you covered there too. Check out our ebook on executive communication to get some tips on how to convince your leaders of the value of HR initiatives.