Hiring the right people is one of the most important steps in creating a competitive organizational advantage. The organization has the responsibility to motivate, maximize productivity, and retain that worker in order to get the most out of that newfound asset upon hiring. A vital step which organizations often forego is training. Leaders need to ensure that their employees have the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to succeed. A well-trained workforce truly represents a competitive advantage.
One issue is that training obviously requires resources. Simply put, training costs money. While there needs to be a shift in looking at training as an investment, it’s an expense on a business’s balance sheet. It also means that employees need to take time off from performing their regular tasks in order to participate. That puts productivity at a standstill. Training is far from free and employers often aren’t able to distinguish which approaches are actually valuable. And, of course, employers fear that investing too much training in an employee who may leave is a waste of resources. Here, competitors may benefit when that employee jumps ship.
The truth is that training can have an impact on all the things an organization is looking to accomplish with its human resources strategy. First, it can increase employee motivation. As training can enhance KSAs and provide employees with new capabilities, your team members may be more confident in their abilities to perform their jobs and more eager to do so. If training provides them with the KSAs to do their jobs better or in new, more effective ways, the organization will see increased levels of productivity. The likelihood of employees leaving decreases when workers feel as though they are truly invested-in and that their organizations care about their long-term career success.
Below are a few of the most important considerations HR needs to address when creating organizational learning programs:
1. Alignment with Organizational Strategies
Preparing and developing a workforce is like anything else in the organization; it needs to align with actual organizational goals. Training ultimately needs to have some obvious impact on the top organizational objectives. For example, if the top goal of the organization is to increase new business by 20%, then the top priority for training needs to have some sort of impact on the ability reach that goal. Training done for training’s sake is never a good plan. There will always be an opportunity to develop your employees in ways that benefit your overall mission.
2. Impact on Organizational Strategies
Having a strategic alignment is the first step. The next step, impact, is even more important. Once you’ve identified which strategies your training aligns with and determined what your priority is, you need to determine what kind of impact is expected to come from training. Your organization will be able to benefit from a number of trainings but calculating the expected impact is critical. Your stakeholders need to come together to assess how much closer the training would be able to get them to reach their goal. Similarly, leaders must figure out how to be able to measure the effects. The trainings that get implemented should certainly be those with the most impact.
The format in which training is delivered is very important. Trainings that might be based on learning a new skill should include simulation. A training designed to increase common knowledge (standard for the entire organization) may be best delivered through an online portal. The training format has a high impact on what the cost will be as well as its efficacy. It’s ideal to maximize effectiveness while keeping the costs down as much as possible.
4. Who's Included in Training
It’s important to figure out who benefits once you determine why training needs to exist and how it will be delivered. While it may seem relatively straight forward, sometimes it’s not always as clear as one assumes. For instance, there may be people in the company in different functions with a similar tasks who all contribute to a particular goal. It may be a good use of resources to train them all if possible. However, it could also be a waste of money to do so too. It’s also possible, based on the scope of their roles, that some employees receive a similar training but in different formats based on the degree to which they actually use those particular KSAs. Again, what matters is the overall impact training can have. Ultimately, you must invest a lot of thought in understanding who training benefits.
5. The Number of People Trained
The number of people to receive training is also important. Training alone will never help a company reach its end-of-year goals. Constantly training the same people on the same skills will eventually reduce your ROI. It may even yield diminishing returns. Spreading out purposeful, goal-oriented learning across an organization is important. All of a company’s employees play a role in organizational success. Providing some level of learning or granting opportunities to learn can not only help employees develop the KSAs required to meet organizational objectives but, as stated above, can have a huge impact on your retention strategy.
Employees are much more likely to remain loyal and engaged at a company they feel truly cares not only about organizational outcomes but their own personal and professional success. Training is an investment people carry for their entire lives. The simple fact that learning is encouraged in a firm can help bolster motivation and productivity while reducing turnover.
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Read these resources to improve your human resources strategy:
- How to Support Your Introverted Employees
- The Power of Motivation and Recognition at Your Workplace
- How to Hire for Culture
- 8 Ways to Retain Your Top Employees
- EQ vs. IQ: Who Should You Hire?