Employee engagement is dipping, according to a new study by human resources consultancy Aon Hewitt, but as an manager, you can make the workplace more appealing through positive initiatives such as employee training and development.
Indeed, I've often had people I manage ask for more training. My answer is always an emphatic "yes."
But then something funny often happens: nothing. Giving staff approval for training doesn't necessarily mean that they'll do it unless you follow up methodically and even micromanage the process.
Why does this happen and what does it show about how employers and employees alike can do a better job to make sure development happens? I have five theories.
1. The employee doesn't know what kind of training they want.
You can address this by asking your employee for three or four ideas or by creating an individual learning plan for them.
You should then work together to explore an overarching objective for the training, whether it's better speaking skills, more confidence, or something else entirely.
2. The employee's goals don't match team goals.
It's a mistake to lay out a training program without considering what your employee actually wants out of it.
Ask your employees about their goals and wants. Never assume.
3. The employee knows what they want but feels pressed for time.
Earmark a specific amount of time per week for training, and then be sure to firewall that time so that your employees can't be pulled away for work tasks.
4. There's no budget.
Not all training costs $5,000 per employee per week. You can usually get custom courses (even with vendor-led certification courses) that cost a fraction of that if you have enough participants.
There also are podcasts, books and free resources on the Internet.
One technique I've used is to cover all certification books and tests and allow employees to study on their own time.
If you have official curriculum, make sure people feel comfortable signing up and taking it. This is often material created by an organization and so comes at no cost to your teams and helps your team stay abreast of the organizational position/philosophy on given topics.
5. Employees don't like the teaching methods.
Some people can't learn in a classroom, others can't do self-paced, and others still need exercise or goal-oriented training.
Be flexible to allow your employees to learn in the ways they need to learn, not just in the ways you think they want to learn.
They simply don't want training.
Maybe they have a new family or a sick parent, or just don't see training as a priority and aren't willing to make the time.
Not everyone is going to drive to the top of the organization or to the next job. It's your responsibility, though, as a employer, to keep your employees from having out-of-date skills.
It's important to help employees understand the resources available to them and why it's important to take advantage of them.
"Job training empowers people to realize their dreams and improve their lives," former US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell once said. Employers and employees should work together to make it happen.