Many employers see training as part of an onboarding process for new talent. But after the first few months, training can get shelved and attention refocuses on day-to-day issues. Yet there are many reasons to offer regular training and professional development activities.
First off, it's important to know what your team members want from their jobs. For much of today's top talent, "more training" tops the list. However, that message doesn't seem to be getting through. According to a yearly survey of frontline workers by research firm Ipsos, just 41 percent of employees said their employers offered this kind of workplace development. The lack of development opportunities may dampen motivation for employees.
Training also helps you hire and promote from within. Rather than having to go through an expensive hiring process, you can invest in your current talent. According to research by the Center for American Progress, the cost to replace a highly trained employee can equal or even exceed 200 percent of that employee's annual salary.
The return on a nominal investment in training is a strong workforce that may be more dedicated to working at your company for the long haul, but you'll also enjoy increased revenue. The American Society for Training and Development found companies offering extensive training generate 218 percent higher income for each employee than those that don't. Also, investing in training programs brought companies a 24 percent higher profit margin.
To develop a strategy for implementing ongoing training, begin thinking about training as an integral component of your company culture.
I've met several entrepreneurs who do this. They make ongoing learning, a desire for knowledge, and skills building a vital part of the daily work environment. Here are some ways to create a training-based culture:
1. Include employees as you develop your training program.
Ask for their ideas about the type of training they'd like to receive. A friend of mine who runs a design agency flat out told me he doesn't always see what his team members need to work on most, so he'll ask them. While he can't incorporate every suggestion, he says using their ideas as a guidepost creates more relevant and engaging training programs overall. He even says it leads to better results.
2. Identify leaders and mentors who can lead the training effort.
I know several companies that assign one or more people to lead and mentor the training. Having a champion who researches, plans, and implements most--if not all--training activities can help keep the value top of mind for everyone in the company. This leadership also helps shape and manage the training process.
3. Set a manageable budget.
Include training as a line item in your company budget to help your team see it as a justifiable and measurable cost. As a small business that operates with a lean budget, start with a minimal budgetary allotment to find ways to do more with less.
4. Assess new and innovative training tools.
To get the most return from a lean training budget, regularly search for the latest training tools, such as relevant apps and online courses. For example, you can find many free courses across many academic and professional websites. One CEO I interviewed says TED Talks on YouTube are one of his more valuable pieces of training content. Other unique training methods include guest speakers from organizations and colleges. These speakers can discuss their expertise and provide learning for your staff.
You can also look within your organization to enhance your training program. For example, match more experienced team members with newer employees and leverage their experience and knowledge. Cross-training and shadowing also provide ready-made training opportunities as opposed to investing in an expensive formal training program.
No training program should remain static. As a company grows, its needs and perspectives change on the basis of employee demographics, external trends, and the availability of training tools and programs. Emphasize the importance of training and continually look for ways to improve your training opportunities to illustrate the value you place on company talent.