Most companies understand the necessity of training new employees. Freshly hired workers need to understand their job duties, management’s expectations, and a host of other important information.

But did you know that training existing employees can solve a bunch of corporate problems, too?

Well-designed training programs, for both new and existing workers, can increase worker productivity, employee loyalty, and ultimately profits.

The trick is to create the right kind of training. Keep in mind the different needs of each type of employee.

Understand both the value and the cost of new vs. existing employees in hiring/promotion

When you fill a new position, you can either hire a new employee, or promote an existing worker. Each of these options has its own set of benefits and costs.

It’s more time-efficient to train an existing worker in advanced methods and responsibilities. A properly trained worker promoted from within can be put to better use for your company more quickly.

Promoting from within also motivates other workers. Employees will be more than willing to take on additional responsibilities and improve job performance. Especially when they see that there’s room for advancement in the company.

A “promote from within” policy coupled with a strong ongoing training commitment increase both job/employer loyalty and overall job satisfaction in a company’s workforce. In turn, you get decreased turnover rates and lower talent acquisition costs.

On the other hand, hiring and training a new employee can bring in a fresh perspective, as well as new skills to your workforce, and improve the company’s “intellectual capital.”

Additionally, sometimes it takes an outsider to improve the energy and motivation of existing employees, especially in management or other key positions.

Moreover, when current employees compete for a single, highly-sought-after position, it can create bruised feelings in unsuccessful applicants.

Be wary of hiring “rock stars” from another company

Despite the obvious advantages of promoting from within and training current workers to take on bigger jobs, it can still be tempting to hire a perceived “rock star” away from a competitor.

However, one study shows that “rock star” might not be the best bet for your company. In fact, he or she could actually end up costing your business a lot of money – as much as $24 million, according to the study.

Instead, the study’s authors recommended training your own stars. By committing to top-quality ongoing training for existing employees, you help build a workforce that’s highly skilled, and trained your way.

As an added bonus, assuming they’re compensated well, your current employees will become both more loyal to the company and less interested in looking elsewhere.

Create better training materials by focusing on the employee

Evaluate your needs for training based on gaps in performance, which you can identify through ongoing analysis and managerial attention. Tailor your training programs to address those gaps.

Address regulatory and legal requirements in training, and respond promptly to changes in this area. Ongoing training for existing employees helps you maintain compliance, avoiding stiff fines or worse, especially for worker and customer safety issues.

To improve your company training, blend in-person and online methods. Having someone physically present in the room helps when trainees need more explanation, while online modules let the employee move at his or her own pace.

Whenever possible, conduct hands-on training in a controlled, safe environment. A Skillsoft survey found that 33 percent of office workers prefer to learn by doing, with “real-world” experience guided by an expert.

You can reduce the costs of training without sacrificing quality by using free resources where possible, such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare.

Finally, if you have existing employees who are experts in specific subject areas, consider enlisting their help. In many cases, they can do a better job of training because they’re already familiar with internal policies and procedures.

Help new employees without overwhelming them

It’s crucial to get new-hire training right. This is where you make your first impression on your new employee, and how you give them the tools they need to meet your expectations of them.

At a minimum, orientation and basic training for new employees should include:

  • An overview of the company, including organizational structure
  • A clear explanation of job duties and expectations
  • Hands-on and theoretical training for necessary job skills
  • A thorough explanation of safety and other types of legal or regulatory requirements

In addition, create a new-hire manual, and keep it current at all times. Keep it light – your new employees will get a better understanding if you tailor the manual to be easily comprehensible.

Finally, your employee manual should be as specific as possible, including diagrams and images where appropriate. Remember that the manual is the first place they’ll usually turn to, if they encounter questions about their new jobs.

Give existing workers what they need to succeed and advance

When companies neglect ongoing training — as far too many companies do — the price is the loss of top talent.

According to the Harvard Business Review, many top young workers feel they’re not getting enough employer support for professional development and training. If that feeling consolidates over time, your company could experience a brain drain of its “best and brightest.”

With existing workers, your training should have a different focus. You want to help your workers improve their skills, stay current with your industry, and advance their careers.

Look for ways to train and encourage employees to think outside the box and solve problems in creative ways. Blend both skills-oriented and development-oriented training for best results.

A consistent commitment to quality ongoing training will yield a more effective, happier staff and a more productive and flexible organization.

Take Aways

Ongoing and new-worker training is crucial if you want to increase productivity, reduce staff turnover, and improve worker morale.

Focus on the different needs: the new employee in need of introductory information. The current employee who wants to advance their careers and hone their skills.

Finally, orient your training materials to the employee’s needs, in terms of both substance and format.

A clear, consistent commitment to providing your workers with the right kind of training at various points in their careers will create a truly valuable asset for your company: a loyal, happy workforce.

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