TABLE OF CONTENTS
Effective professional development is a core component of successful businesses, and it requires a comprehensive approach.
Employee training equips staff with the skills they need to improve job performance, achieve results and grow to meet future demands. To realize a positive return on training programs, it’s important to understand the relevance of training and development, current trends, obstacles in implementation and ways to optimize the impact of your initiatives.
Training and Development Defined
While often spoken about in tandem, the words training and development have distinct meanings.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, training is defined as:
The process of learning the skills you need to do a particular job or activity.
It often encompasses growth opportunities such as classroom instruction, e learning courses and other activities aimed at building capabilities.
In comparison, development is defined as:
The process in which someone or something grows or changes and becomes more advanced.
An employee’s evolution can occur with or without formal training. Development could include a job rotation that provides exposure to a new department, a training session that brings awareness to personal values or any experience that promotes change beyond targeted skills training.
When considered together, a training and development program empowers employees to expand their skills, progress in their roles as well as advance as professionals.
The Value of Training Programs
Organizational development programs can have a significant effect on organizational performance, so it’s worth investing in employee training and development.
When organizations deliver learning, it pays dividends. ASTD has reported that companies offering comprehensive employee training programs enjoy a 218% higher income per employee than those without formal training.
74% of workers feel they are not achieving their full potential due to a lack of development. If nearly three-quarters of employees believe they could do more with additional learning, there are meaningful results to be had in terms of efficiency and output.
Development initiatives can improve organizational culture. Opportunities to learn and grow are the number one driver of a great climate, and 92% of employees report that well-planned training programs favorably influence their connection to work.
Numerous studies have shown the value of engagement on overall performance, with organizations with engaged employees outperforming those without by 202%. To influence the success of your people and your business, it’s worthwhile to invest in human resources.
94% of employees say they would stay with a firm longer if they were involved in learning opportunities. Also, 70% of workers report that they are relatively inclined to quit their current jobs to join a company that delivers employee training and development.
Considering that conservative estimates state that the cost of replacing a person is between 50% and 75% of their annual salary, it’s evident that a well-designed training program can support employee retention.
Trends in Training and Development
Training and development programming has transformed significantly in the past few years, particularly with the rise of the hybrid workplace and changing expectations of the labor force. Understanding the current context and coming changes can help any professional in human resource management better support their employees.
Evolving Training Methods and Data-driven Practices
As training and development specialists adapt to remote or hybrid working arrangements, they must change the way they distribute content. Human resources teams recognize that learning styles will vary across the workforce, so it’s wise to embrace personalized approaches. These two factors are encouraging corporations to adopt multiple methodologies to optimize learning retention, including:
- In-person sessions
- Virtual workshops
- Computer based training or e learning
- Self-directed learning
- On the job training
- Community learning
- Job rotation and shadowing
Data can be a powerful ally to training and development specialists. Gathering information can reveal how training sessions are received as well as their effectiveness. Numbers can also be used to personalize growth, increase retention and support career development.
A few of the ways that data is being utilized consist of:
- Identifying skills gaps
- Linking training to performance
- Delivering individualized education courses
- Improving course design and delivery
Growing Demand for Leadership Skills
While employee growth is important across all populations, companies are recognizing the role that managers and executives play in engaging and retaining staff. With this in mind, human resources management teams are paying particular attention to improving the leadership skills of the workforce.
While many talents are needed to lead people, training and development specialists are focusing on soft skills development as these gifts play an important part in employee engagement. Some of the most in-demand aptitudes include:
Upskilling and Reskilling
Any development specialist will tell you that business is rapidly evolving, which influences the skillsets required to advance an organization. The transformation of recent years is not lost on most employees either. They are also recognizing that they must acquire new skills training to thrive in the future of work.
Employers may look to hire new employees to fill some of the needs, and job openings alone will not result in success. It is more cost-efficient in the long term to upskill and reskill existing staff. To support meaningful skill building, it’s essential that human resources management employees:
- Analyze their long-term and short-term objectives
- Conduct a needs assessment to analyze the implications of company goals on required skills
- Align training methods to support in-demand capacities
Providing Just in Time Learning
Talent development professionals are exploring avenues to improve employee training and learning retention by utilizing just in time solutions. Typically, these are short development opportunities that provide staff with targeted information when they need it.
Some of the benefits of using this approach in tandem with scheduled programming include:
- Allowing staff to set their own pace for learning
- Offering choices to engage people in their development
- Delivering training materials that address an immediate challenge
Supporting Company Culture
Culture is a vital part of a business’s strategy. Having a strong climate ensures that employees go about their work in a way that reflects the values and vision of the organization. Often, culture is woven into new employee orientation, and it should not stop there.
Talent development specialists are recognizing that culture should integrate into continuing education by:
- Reflecting on how values show up in instructional materials
- Ensuring that formal processes reinforce the desired culture
- Modeling norms in programming and delivery
Common Challenges in Talent Development
While employees are growing more vocal about their interest in learning, human resources management teams still experience obstacles when it comes to delivering meaningful training. By understanding common challenges and how to circumvent these barriers, you will be more equipped to deliver engaging employee training and development programming.
One of the most widespread obstacles we hear about at Emergenetics is a lack of time. In many organizations, employees are at capacity, and this is especially true in industries that utilize shift workers or may be experiencing staffing shortages.
Reduce the size of this barrier by diversifying opportunities. In addition to classroom offerings, provide online resources, on the job training as well as microlearning that take no more than 30 minutes as part of your development program. Getting buy-in from managers is also crucial so that they are willing to prioritize learning for their team members.
A one-and-done approach to a training program is not likely to achieve a high impact. It’s important that employees may consistently access and build on their knowledge.
A development specialist can amplify ongoing learning through post-training support. Map out a communication plan to reinforce your efforts that includes follow-up touchpoints to provide additional resources and training materials that expand on newly acquired knowledge.
Securing financial resources for employee training is another factor for success.
To bolster employee development, involve senior executives. Hosting impactful learning sessions for them can be a great way to engage them in your work. Additionally, get their opinions on training strategy and the skills required for the workforce. They will be more inclined to promote the efforts of a development specialist when they can make direct connections to the benefits.
Training programs are another element of business that will need to grow intentionally, especially for global enterprises.
Honor the various training needs of operating regions by analyzing the skills gaps, career development interests and any existing training challenges. A robust assessment will uncover existing offerings to adjust as well as opportunities to find external partners to support your organization.
If employees are not excited about the training and development options that are offered, they are unlikely to participate.
Engaging staff is fundamental for effective training, so capture their feedback when designing offerings. Ask about employee goals, what they want to learn about and provide a feedback mechanism on the training they receive. Listening to their needs and adapting along the way will generate greater engagement.
Essential Components of Employee Training and Development Programs
Continuous learning is an important part of a healthy workplace. To support ongoing growth, training and development specialists should identify ways they are or could support the type of programs below:
New Employee Orientation and Onboarding
At the start of a new hire’s tenure, it’s imperative to offer programming that helps them learn about the company as well as its standards and practices. Throughout the onboarding process, offer support to department leaders and provide a formal process to ensure new hires understand their goals and responsibilities as well as gain the resources they need to do their jobs well.
Individuals are likely to need technical and soft skills in any job today. Technical training tends to focus on specific capacities that individual employees need to accomplish their job functions such as data analytics, proficiency in certain administrative tasks or customer service training. In comparison, soft skill development prioritizes talents to help a person work productively within your culture. Some examples include communication skills, collaboration and innovation.
Team-based trainings provide avenues to improve group dynamics. These offerings help teams increase engagement, motivation and productivity. Often, there is an overlap between soft skills and team development as many of the capabilities that employees lean on to improve teamwork require interpersonal know-how.
Your work environment and industry will often dictate how much time must be allocated to procedural trainings. For example, manufacturing teams are likely to need programs focused on optimizing safety measures, while financial services companies may have a host of compliance trainings required to meet local, national and international regulations.
Building useful managerial skills empowers a leader to guide others successfully. These training and development offerings are intended to help staff be skilled in managing teams and departments. Core elements might include delegation, time management, providing constructive feedback and conflict resolution.
Leadership skills are different from managerial skills in that they are more focused on influencing and guiding rather than providing tactical support. In a leadership training program, development specialists are likely to help participants build skill in the areas of strategy, emotional intelligence, negotiation and culture building.
Diversity and Inclusion
Anyone familiar with Emergenetics is likely to know that we believe inclusion is a core tenet of achievement. Having diverse perspectives is central to innovation and long-term success. Through diversity and inclusion training and development solutions, employees learn about the value of equity and discover strategies to promote a sense of belonging for all staff.
Effective Training Methods
There are many training techniques that human resources and talent development specialists may use to support employee development.
One of the most common ways to promote employee training and development is programming that is led by a facilitator. This sort of offering can be formalized with a certified instructor providing education on a particular topic, or it could be more informal through internal experts hosting a lunch and learn.
As the employee population spreads across multiple locations, training and development specialists are relying on more computer-based coursework or programmed instruction to support learning. These virtual programs can reach many staff members and provide just-in-time learning at scale.
Simulating a situation makes it much easier to practice new skills in a low-risk environment. The introduction of VR technology in instructional design is making role playing even more realistic, which ultimately will encourage regular application.
On-the-job and Project-based Learning
Perhaps the most common type of training happens through day-to-day actions on the job or taking part in specific initiatives designed to stretch a person’s thinking and skills. For learning to take place, managers and team leads must be great communicators, who can teach and offer actionable feedback in real-time.
Coaching and Mentoring
Providing staff with coaches and mentors promotes employee development. Training and development specialists should look to internal and external seasoned professionals who can guide employees.
When development specialists create structured programs that allow workers to ride along with a colleague to explore different departments, career paths or job functions, they support relationship building, idea generation and professional growth.
Many individuals appreciate having a chance to connect with and learn from others. Through group activities, discussions or virtual communities, staff gain new knowledge without having to solely rely on training and development specialists.
Continuing education can easily happen outside of the office. Sending individuals to conferences, lectures or certification programs are common ways to enhance employee learning.
Training Program Considerations through the Attributes
To maximize employee training and development programs, it’s essential to accommodate the many ways that team members prefer to learn and engage in training. To provide some clarity into these nuances, training and development specialists can take inspiration from the Emergenetics Attributes.
- The Analytical Attribute wants to maximize value, so learning sessions must provide clear pathways to build expertise in their relevant industry.
- The Structural Attribute appreciates practicality. They often learn best through hands-on lessons to implement the knowledge.
- For Social Thinkers, be sure to provide experiences where they can partner with and learn from others.
- Conceptual Thinkers are often engaged when they have a chance to experiment and appreciate trial and error as a learning methodology.
- From the lens of Expressiveness, first-third team members prefer having time to compose their responses in a session while third-third team members are likely happy to role play on the spot.
- The Assertiveness Attribute considers style and pace, and you are likely to have some learners who want to race through the training while others may need more time.
- To honor the Flexibility spectrum, be sure to provide some options in the educational experiences or activities individuals can engage in so they may direct their learning.
Make a positive impact on your staff by honoring their many preferences and designing educational opportunities and structured training accordingly.
Build Your Training and Development Plan
By giving thought and careful attention to the needs of the organization, training and development specialists can improve how they support the workforce. To organize your thoughts and determine your next steps, apply these five recommendations.
Consider your organization’s goals as well as any workforce planning initiatives. Then, determine what skills and capabilities employees will need to have to achieve this future state.
Reflect on how employee training should be contributing to the business’s culture as well as what the sessions will look like, feel like and sound like for participants. This holistic analysis is not up to training and development specialists alone. Partner with executives, leaders, managers and staff members to gain insight across the population.
Analyze the Current State and Gaps
Your needs assessment will allow you to evaluate the status of your training and development initiatives. Make notes of any gaps that exist between what you envision delivering and the training effort that is provided to employees today.
Be mindful to review skills gaps, missing programming for any target audience as well as experiential nuances.
To measure progress, set tangible goals to close the gaps identified. Determine how you will balance near-, mid- and long-term targets and consider using a SMART goal format to make plans actionable.
When your objectives are outlined, reconnect with stakeholders, such as your executive team and workplace influencers as well as your fellow training and development specialists, to secure buy-in and discuss areas for improvement.
Prioritize Areas of Investment
Next, it’s time to decide how you will be training employees in-house and what initiatives will require investment in outside solutions or partners. It is not realistic to assume that you will have a development specialist to attend to each need identified.
This step will help you determine what makes sense to create or optimize internally while developing a list of priorities that will require support beyond your human resources department or organization.
Test and Optimize
As you make changes to your employee training and development program, do your best to experiment and test it before introducing wide-scale transformation. Utilizing pilot programs or making small investments in new offerings initially will allow you to assess the outcomes before putting too much time or effort into a solution.
Along the way, get feedback from your stakeholders to understand their perceptions of the development offerings and opportunities for further iteration.
Emergenetics’ Solutions for Training and Development
We understand that there are so many potential partners who can support your employee development programming, which is why we created a buyer’s guide to serve as a companion to your research. In the guide, you will gain insights to bring clarity to your needs and analyze essential priorities for your organization.
When you are seeking a partner to help you deliver engaging, meaningful training to your staff, our team is here is help!
Emergenetics’ programs can be used to support many core training needs such as developing effective leaders and managers, inspiring improved team performance and productivity as well as enhancing self-awareness and soft skills for every individual contributor.