Professional development programs for employees can help boost engagement, aid in retention, and encourage a workplace culture where employee satisfaction and adoption of new skills and ways of problem-solving is highly valued. From a productivity standpoint, continuing education can also help your staff remain curious, motivated to serve as valuable contributors to your organization.
Potential benefits of development training for employees
The importance of training and development lies in its interconnection with other key issues that can impact an organization. You have much to gain from providing a learning program that:
- Strengthens skill sets. Training can help employees who need to make improvements in certain areas, and conversely, enhance current knowledge with up-to-date information. In turn, the organization enjoys the benefits of being at the forefront of its field.
- Nurtures a healthier corporate culture. Investing in training sends a clear message: you care about staff and believe in your employees. This can foster a sense of belonging in employees who may work harder with a deeper commitment to their teams.
- Improves retention. Benefits have long been proven to help companies boost employee morale and increase retention. For the first time, career development programs made the 2018 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey's top 10 nontraditional benefits. Clearly, training is a highly valued benefit for staff and employers. In fact, a 2016 Paychex survey of 2,000 employees revealed that 29 percent would leave a job due to lack of skill development.
- Enhances employee advancement. An organization is no different. Workplace training allows your business to nurture leadership potential from within, and can help ensure future transitions are smooth, effective, and efficient.
- Increases engagement and performance. Strengthening an employee's skill set is one way to bolster their confidence and help them take greater ownership in their role. This can translate to increased job satisfaction, productivity and engagement.
- Ensures consistency. If you want the same information to be disseminated across all staff members, a structured training program can provide a knowledge base on processes and procedures that gets everyone on the same page.
- Potentially impacts the bottom line. Focused training on topics like safety, diversity, and harassment can prevent accidents and possible lawsuits by helping staff implement safer and more respectful work practices.
Prioritizing training in the workplace
Providing employee development and training programs is not without its challenges.
Employers, which may be juggling tight budgets, may deem it as an expensive luxury or are reluctant to let employees miss work time and productivity associated with those hours. There are logistical issues, too. With an increase in remote staff, who may live out of state or in different time zones, providing access to training and development programs can leave employers wondering what to do.
However, this mindset could be shifting. With training in the workplace linked to so many key performance gains, it's no surprise that having staff training and development programs are HR priorities for 88 percent of HR professionals of small and medium-sized businesses, according to the 2018 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey.
The same survey revealed that 84 percent of HR professionals are prioritizing company culture to drive results. Training in the workplace is one way to help them achieve this. In fact, 83 percent of HR professionals are making it a priority to provide a very specific topic of employee training; discrimination and harassment, in efforts to improve a work environment. As for the conundrum of training remote employees, technology has brought learning online, working across time zones and geographic barriers. Learning management systems (LMS) are allowing organizations to keep all their employees involved, challenged, and current in their respective fields.
You may already have training modules in place for newly hired employees. To reap the benefits described above, it’s important to offer current employees training that is tailored to support their unique goals and offered in a delivery system that's appropriate for their daily work schedule. Here are some tips to help you incorporate development training into your business strategy:
Consider what subject matter is in demand. The unique makeup of your workforce should shape the content in your professional development training. In some roles, employees may be required to complete continuing education to remain credentialed and licensed. Your courses should at least complement pertinent information within each unique profession. Professional development training can also address objectives like:
- Refreshing employees' memory and awareness of skills they possess but don't use often.
- Providing employees with opportunities to learn new technology, or evolve skill sets they use frequently to keep pace with changing industry trends.
- Enhancing "soft skills.”
- Preparing workers interested in moving into leadership roles with the necessary skills to do so when the time comes.
Ask employees what they want to learn. In addition to your own training ideas, invite employees to share what interests them. Trust that their insight can shed light on specific projects, events, or initiatives to the industry that your HR team is not aware of, that could be beneficial, and spark more curiosity about how to evolve professionally. The more you can match training topics to what your staff wants, the more your business can benefit.
Choose a medium for training that supports employees. Online, on-demand professional training modules can provide employees with the flexibility they need to complete coursework at their convenience. But if not all members of your staff have assigned access to a personal computer, consider investing in a few shared computers employees can use free of charge when they want to take a training course. Likewise, some professional development subject matter may be better retained when offered in a personalized classroom or lunch and learn-style setting. In those cases, be mindful of:
- Where employees are located;
- Whether employees need to be compensated for this time;
- Whether specific roles allow the ability to attend a course during the workday; and
- How to handle registration, development of course material, and gauging the effectiveness of the program to determine if it's worth repeating.
Ramp up program development with an LMS. The right learning management system can help you manage the entire learning process — registration, tracking students' progress, recording archives, and assessments. With modern, digital user interfaces, interactive features, agile and accessible online courses, and relevant topics, you can offer and administer much-needed (and appreciated) training courses to remote and onsite employees.
The importance of training and development for a stronger, more resilient business has never been more evident. With accessibility to an LMS, you too can make sure your people never stop learning.