Increasing Opportunities for Learning Can Lower Turnover
BY Robert Hoffman
The top reason for employee turnover is lack of training, according to many surveys and business publications, including the Harvard Business Review. The desire to learn is a significant catalyst in the attraction and retention of top employees.
But the expectation that training is the nirvana of learning may be misleading. The effectiveness of training for the individual and the value for companies can be accomplished only if certain conditions are met. Delivery of training can be costly, time consuming, and ultimately counterproductive, if approached without regard to the following fundamental principles:
Be committed to learn. Preparation goes far beyond timely log-on for a Web-based session or reviewing coursework prior to an actual learning experience. Required groundwork to gratify the training experience is involving participants. Solicit impressions from each individual to assess developmental need, as well as preferred delivery method. Participants prosper when involved, while reluctance is likely when the employee is required to attend a session. Consider giving participants a menu of choices to respond to the mutually developed needs analysis. Insist that new methodologies be implemented, despite past successes or possible workplace resistance.
Learners must be convinced that a direct connection exists between the training experience, acquiring new skills, and their career success. If on-the-job training is employed, be certain that both the individual and the trainer are committed to the transference process, or the training effort may be wasted.
Gain management support. Getting support extends further than receiving financial funding or passive participation from senior management. Unambiguous enthusiasm from leadership is demonstrated by reinforcing the impact of training in corporate communications, business plans, and individual performance goals. Achieve backing by allocating resources, time, and emphasis, especially after the training is finished.
Correlate training with company objectives. Skill development is pivotal to organizational success. Analysis of the company's strategic plan or a review of the annual report should provide a conclusive linkage between long-term company success and skill attainment. In most circumstances it should be impossible to meet the objectives of a long-term business plan without upgrading the capabilities of the company's human capital. Like other corporate assets, training agendas should correlate with the company's strengths. When determining training alternatives, integrate with organizational competencies. Each competency within the company should have corresponding knowledge or experience thresholds, which can be achieved through developmental training activities. Clearly outline what is required for success and emphatically support with training agendas. Consider including training as an overall organizational goal to further emphasize the importance to company growth.
Promote application access. By employing the proper technology, companies can ensure that employees will have full access to the latest learning methods. According to the American Society for Training and Development 2000 State of the Industry Report, those companies considered training leaders delivered 18.3% of training via new learning technologies. These technologies include self-paced PClearning, Web-enabled learning, and online universities. The prevalence of instructor-led classroom learning dipped by more than 15% last year, according to the survey. The importance of these numbers is not necessarily in the efficiency of communicating the learning message, but in providing convenient opportunities for learning to occur. As a participant, you must be open to learning; as a provider, you must be available to teach. Technology is the conduit to accomplish both objectives.
Either as a participant or provider, the rewards of the training experience are achieved by openness tolearning and consistency with company objectives. In order to create an environment equipped for learning, the philosophy of training must be supported by specific actions. Being an active coach, reinforcing the lessons on the job, and leading by example are part of the solution to knowledge transference. Avoid the quick cure approach used by learning novices. Sitting in a classroom or taking a course doesn't work alone. Make sure that everyone in the organization realizes, "When the class ends, the learning begins!"