Investing in staff can pay major dividends — in all sorts of ways


ALONG with his famous “You can have it in any colour as long as it’s black” comment, Henry Ford is noted for these words: “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

Wise words — but in 2019, employee training remains low on many companies’ priorities list.

On-the-job training
On-the-job training should be encouraged

A study by Totaljobs found that two in three workers had left jobs because of a lack of training and development opportunities — and nine in 10 wanted their employer to do something about it.

Training programmes bring many benefits which can ultimately enhance the business. But it needs to be more than a box-ticking exercise. Specific, targeted training programmes are the means to improve staff capabilities.

Research shows that a third of UK workers don’t feel qualified to do their job, and more than half don’t think their co-workers are either. What’s wrong with this picture? Are managers failing to pick up on the teams’ needs, or struggling to address them? Or is it that staff are unaware of what training is on offer, or unsure which skills they need to develop?

Experts believe that companies should start with a basic backbone of training focused on IT and refresher skills courses, then identify other areas in need of development.

Desirable skills can change over time, so it’s important to regularly review that focus and ensure that training is relevant. If an employee wants help with presenting, managers should identify whether that involves pitching, telling the brand story to the audience, or simply overcoming public speaking nerves. All fall under the umbrella of presentation training, but bring different results.

Communication is key, and having an honest conversation with employees about where they need help, and why it will help them, is a logical step. Investing in external training can be expensive, and those undertaking training programmes need a clear understanding of why they are there, and what the objectives of their learning experience are.

On-the-job training should also be encouraged, with the goal of sharing internal knowledge and experience. Feedback following a pitch or presentation can help employees to recognise what went well and what didn’t. Creating opportunities for teams to share their knowledge can be an inexpensive way of boosting relevant knowledge.

It can be hard to make the direct connection between the cost of training and its value and success. One gauge is the amount spent on training over a single year compared with the amount of business converted, or income from new clients. Another approach is the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation, which looks at four key areas: reaction, learning, behavioural change and organisational performance.

It’s also vital that businesses receive feedback from staff on how they found the training, and what everyday impact it’s had.  Management can then revisit the results further down the track.

There is a wider impact too: companies that take care of their employees will ultimately build a better reputation — and become a more desirable place to work.

Win-win, really…