Businesses often claim that training and development are top priorities, and their budgets reflect that. According to the 2019 ATD State of the Industry report, the average participating organization in 2018 had direct learning expenditures of $1299 per employee, with those employees in turn dedicating 34 hours of their time to this formal learning.
Companies clearly believe that the benefits of training and development are more than enough to balance out the costs. But, as you build those programs for your own employees, the most important first step is determining what you want the benefits to be. Only then can you move forward in making the most of your budget by crafting worthwhile development paths and choosing the best tools to support your needs.
Training employees involves a lot more than gathering everybody for a few mandatory sessions a year. A valuable development program instead takes into account the needs of both the employees and the organization. Flexibility is key, with regular evaluations to ensure that trainings have not become outdated or obsolete.
Technology can also play an important role in supporting a company’s employee development strategies. For example, response technology like TurningPoint allows instructors to ask interactive questions throughout live trainings, while participants answer using their own cell phones, tablets or computers. This kind of interaction helps to keep everyone’s attention, provides valuable assessment data for the instructor and offers a means of tracking who has successfully completed which trainings.
You may also want to invest in solutions that allow for asynchronous training that employees can complete at times most convenient for them. This fits well into a world where we are increasingly used to having knowledge at our fingertips. Learning platforms, including Learning Management Systems both simple and robust, are essential if you want to go down this path. TurningPoint’s web platform, which offers the ability to share interactive questions asynchronously while tracking results online, also provides support for this type of learning.
- Employee recruitment
- Employee engagement
- Company-wide alignment with mission and vision
- Closing skills gaps
- Building a leadership pipeline
- Employee retention
Job postings often garner dozens, even hundreds of resumes. But how can you be sure that you are attracting top talent? One piece of the puzzle is ensuring that you provide strong support for professional development with both internal programs and external educational opportunities.
In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, 45 percent of millennials – now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force – said that “a job that accelerates their professional and career development is ‘very’ important to them.” Being able to show a potential recruit what your organization has to offer regarding personal and professional growth makes a job more attractive, and communicates right from the start how much you value your employees.
Only one-third of U.S. employees are engaged at work according to Gallup. That is a startling number, and one that many employers are striving to improve. That same Gallup report indicates that highly engaged organizations “have well-defined and comprehensive development programs for leaders and managers, and they focus on the development of individuals and teams.”
In that way, training becomes a means of improving not only engagement, but performance as well. Similarly, ensuring that the trainings themselves address topics valuable to your employees, and that they are engaging learning experiences in their own right, are vital to improving engagement through training.
Orientation is a great place to introduce new employees to the values and goals that drive your company. However, it doesn’t stop there. Every training opportunity should in some way reinforce and support the mission and strategic goals that drive your company, from mandatory sexual harassment prevention and safety trainings to unique departmental or individual educational experiences.
It helps when employees understand exactly how every step of the journey is working to enhance not only their personal development, but also the success of the company as a whole. Further, well-considered development programs are themselves a good example of a company living its mission. Everyone says that they value their employees and want them to grow as professionals. This is one way to demonstrate just how true that is.
Traditionally seen as the primary reason for the importance of training and development, this is still a big driver when building a company-wide training program. Once you do a skills inventory to determine what skill sets your employees bring to the table, and what gaps exist across your organization, the next step is to fill those gaps with educational trainings that will prepare your workforce for success in today’s landscape and in meeting the challenges of the future.
They say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. The same is true when it comes to professional development, at least in principle. Beyond just building skills that employees need in their current jobs, a development program can help to prepare them for future roles as they advance in their careers.
According to ATD, managerial and supervisory employee development has comprised the highest percentage of organizational learning portfolios for the past several years. That makes sense, since offering management and leadership training topics – including communications, finance, project management and compliance, to name a few – along with mentoring opportunities provides personal growth to your employees, and puts your organization in good stead with strong leadership for years to come.
All of these factors play into whether employees want to stay or if they are eager to pursue career paths elsewhere. By acknowledging the importance of training and development for employees, and putting that priority into practice, you can cultivate an engaged workforce and a vibrant company culture that is a place where people are excited to work.