If you want to thrive in a tight labor market, effective business training and employee development programs are a must. These initiatives help employees hone existing skills, acquire new ones and stay abreast of industry trends. Investing in employee professional development has been shown to lead to increased productivity, improved job satisfaction and higher staff retention. In this guide we explore:
- why these efforts matter for your organizations growth
- how you can create an impactful training strategy
- how to deliver engaging sessions; and
- how to measure return on investment (ROI).
1. What is business training?
Business training is designed to equip individuals with the necessary skills to:
- do their existing job better, faster or more efficiently;
- expand what they can do, e.g learn a new skill that allows them to take on work of a different kind in addition to their core job;
- operate new plant and machinery or use new systems;
- train for a new role;
- train for a more senior role or to take on more responsibility.
Topics may include:
- technical and functional training focused on operating equipment, machinery and systems (manual processes as well as computerized systems);
- specialist courses on finance, marketing, operations management, people management;
- general courses like presentation and communication skills;
- regulatory and safety training e.g. first aid, fire safety, manual handling, etc.
Training is typically delivered through:
On-the-Job Training – providing employees with opportunities to learn while they work. Coaching, mentoring and shadowing are all effective methods used in this type of training program.
Classroom-Based Instruction – where students can learn from experts who share their knowledge, insights and technique.
Workshops and Seminars – generally focus on a specific topic and allow for plenty of collaboration and discussion.
Online courses – offer participants the flexibility to learn at their own pace while covering a wide range of topics. Easily accessible, these programs avoid having to physically attend classes or workshops.
2. The Benefits of Employee Development Programs
Your team is the foundation of the success of your company. Without them nothing gets done.
You can attract and retain top talent by offering programs that provide opportunities for career advancement and personal growth. These initiatives also foster a culture of learning and innovation which leads to better problem solving and creativity. Well designed employee development programs can improve morale, reduce absenteeism and increase loyalty.
Employees stand to gain increased job satisfaction, higher earnings and reduced risks of being laid off or made redundant. Companies can expect an increase in productivity and reduction in the costs associated with errors, high staff turnover and recruitment.
Organizations that invest in training and development are more likely to be able adapt quickly to changing conditions in technology, communications or in the market. This may make the difference between remaining competitive and going out of business.
3. Develop a training strategy
To develop an effective training strategy for your company, begin by assessing its current state and future direction.
- Conduct a training needs analysis and assess each employee’s strengths and weaknesses to identify areas where additional knowledge or skill sets would be beneficial and would align with your business objectives.
- Determine suitable methodologies such as
- classroom instruction
- online courses
- or a combination of them to implement the best possible solution.
This approach ensures that all aspects are considered before implementing any changes in training programs within the organization.
While technical expertise is certainly important in any industry, it is equally vital to prioritize soft skills. Soft skills encompass problem-solving, communications, teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence. These qualities are often undervalued but play a critical role in workplace success. According to Ray Williams, LinkedIn research found that 57% of talent professionals struggle to assess soft skills
Once you have identified the specific training needs, you can develop a customized training plan. This should include detailed timelines, resources required for success as well as the modes of delivery. Review the relevant materials and source any additional information needed.
When it comes down to it, it’s about what is best for the business. Make sure the training aligns with company values while prioritizing areas where improvement is most critical so that individual employees are better equipped to contribute to your overall goals.
4. Deliver engaging and impactful training
Effective training takes good planning, execution and evaluation. To maximize the long term impact and ensure that your sessions are engaging, follow these best practices:
(a) Set clear objectives. Define expectations, timelines and available resources so that everyone understands what they need to achieve.This will help guide the direction of your instruction and keep students focused on their goals.
(b) Recognize that people will have different learning styles. The 3 basic preferences are audio (I hear), visual (I see) and kinesthetic (I feel). Design your material to appeal to all three.
(c) Encourage participation and collaboration. People learn and retain new information better when they feel involved and engaged. Include activities that can be done in pairs or groups. Use real life examples or case studies as a means of reinforcing key concepts. Friendly competition will appeal to most people, just be careful not to allow it to dominate.
(d) Create opportunities for giving and receiving feedback and for reinforcing the central theme or message of the training.
(e) Monitor progress. Include follow up review and refresher sessions in your schedule – you will be amazed at how far from the instruction received people can stray in as little as a few weeks.
5. Calculate the ROI of your business training programs
You cannot measure the return on your investment (ROI) unless you know both the objective of the training and the resources consumed. Specific metrics such as increased sales, reduced costs or reduced errors are most useful.
Post-training surveys and focus groups may help to gauge participants’ views on the success and effectiveness of the course. Comparing pre-program data with post-program results should show the improvement, assuming your baseline data is relevant and accurate.
Training is essential for retaining and improving existing skills and for introducing new skills. It is also a significant factor in job satisfaction and staff retention. We have discussed the 5 key aspects of creating and delivering effective business training:
- what business training is
- the benefits of providing training
- developing your training strategy
- delivering successful training; and
- measuring your return on investment (ROI).
Use these to ensure your training programs are aligned with your business goals, well designed and yield the expected benefits.
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