How much should you train your employees?
From a manager’s perspective, employee training can be a difficult investment to plan, but it is also vital to keeping your workforce up-to-date and your business thriving.
Staff training can be essential for specific purposes related to your business: in order to beat your competitors, it’s crucial to offer a flawless experience and guarantee a consistent level of quality throughout the customer journey. Also, providing training that develops employees toward long-term career goals can promote greater job satisfaction and build a sense of identity within the team.
At the same time, though, you want to make sure that the financial effort will actually pay off. People are often the company’s most important asset, but today employees spend less time on their jobs: a recent study from Deloitte shows that the turnover rate is very high in some industries – such as hospitality and travel – and this obviously represents a deterrent for managers looking to invest on their team.
Businesses differ a lot one from the other, so there’s not a common rule about how – and how much – you should train your employees. To understand what is best for your company, you should approach this decision with a strategic focus, carefully evaluate your actual needs, and structure your training to be specific, useful and engaging.
Keep a strategic focus
Quite incredibly, one of the most common mistakes that companies make when it comes to setting up a training program is that they “don’t train employees in the skills most critical to the business’s stage of development”, as declared by Christo Popov, CEO and founder of FastTrack, a growth accelerator based in London.
For the training plan to be effective – and to avoid the risk of wasting your money – it is crucial to assign the right people to the right program. Employees should be responsible for acting on the findings and new methods they learn during the course: if they do not have the opportunity to put those new skills to use after the training, maybe it is not the right program for them.
The training should also be clearly linked to the team’s goals and aligned to the overall business plan. As one author puts it, your training program should be structured in a way that enables “the skills and abilities of the employees to match the job tasks that are required to accomplish the strategic objectives” of your organization. This is also why you should always choose a training point of contact (whether internal or external) that has real life experience, already works in your field, and can easily navigate problem areas.
Identify your training needs
Be it a freshman on his first day of work or a newly hired professional, rarely does someone walk into a job with all the skills and knowledge required to do their work at an optimum level. On any level, if there is a requirement for some form of training, an accurate initial analysis will help you to identify what training might be required to bridge the gap between an employee’s current skill level and the skill level that you need them to have.
There are many methods and checklists that can be used to assess the specific skills and processes your team needs to improve, but ultimately as a manager, you should focus on the activities critical to your business, analyzing all the possible causes of poor performance and setting clear objectives towards them, that will be the core focus of your training. Concentrating on priorities and actionable goals will also allow you to review the outcomes of the training effort, identify further training needs and assess the effectiveness of your training-needs analysis.
Make it useful and interesting
In order to be successful, the training should give your employees a new set of skills that they can immediately put to use, allowing the reviewed process to be implemented within the current business structure. A training is truly useful when it provides new insights and tools that help your team perform their job in the near future, not later down the road; unrealistic advice and recommendations that don’t take the actual set up of your company into consideration will soon be forgotten or even cause anger and disorientation in your workforce.
Rather than planning long training marathons and putting a strain on your resources, break it down in small sessions and commit the right amount of time to implement, repeat, and assess what has been learned. This will also allow the participants to advocate the use of new methods and processes and get other colleagues on board.
A useful training will also enrich your employees’ lives within the company and give them a boost of energy, increasing their loyalty and promoting greater job satisfaction.
Employee training can be crucial for an organization’s success, but one size doesn’t fit all. It is necessary for a manager to understand who would most benefit from a training program, existing knowledge gaps to fill, and how the new core skills could be implemented in the existing organization.
A structured approach to training will help you keep your employees engaged, increase training effectiveness, and ensure that it will change the way you work, ultimately allowing you to save time and money.