• Take Employee Training to the Next Level

Take Employee Training to the Next Level

When it comes to training employees, most companies take an old-school approach. But here's what the best-in-class companies are doing instead - and why you should do it too.

You've estimated your annual operating expenses and sketched out your business goals for the year. But have you also thought about how you'll train your employees over the next 12 months? If not, you're overlooking another crucial component of your company's health and growth. Note, we asked how you'll train your employees over the next 12 months--that's because the traditional yearly class or occasional seminar won't keep you in step with the competition any longer. These days, developing your staff is something you need to be doing year-'round. Here's why:

Did you know?

68% of employees say their managers aren't involved in their career development.
Only 59% of workers feel they can grow and develop at their current job.
78% percent of employees say they'd stay at their company longer if they felt there was a clear career path for them there.

Employees - Especially Your Younger Ones - Expect You to Invest in Them

According to one recent report on HR trends published by Deloitte University Press, today's workers see on-the-job training as an entitlement, not just a perk. Millennials, especially, feel this way: two-thirds think it's their managers' job to convince them to stay by offering accelerated growth opportunities. With U.S. businesses losing about $11 billion per year due to turnover, according to the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs, you'll want to do what you can, as often as you can, to keep your workers happy.

It's a Powerful Recruitment Tool

"A clear leadership development path will not only improve your retention rates, it will help your business become more attractive to new talent," says Steve Farber, (www.SteveFarber.com), president and CEO of Extreme Leadership, who was named one of Inc. magazine's top 50 leadership and management experts. With unemployment currently hovering around 5%, you need to be attractive to job-hunters--and the promise of continual career development is a powerful enticement. It's also an unusual one: Just 36% of workers think their current employer offers them a clear path to advancement, according to a recent large survey by Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com

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Nurturing Your Workers' Leadership Skills Makes Your Organization More Agile

Identifying and grooming your most promising workers to climb the ranks--a component of many training programs--boosts your organization's chances of thriving no matter what the future may hold. One study found that 86% of companies with established leadership development programs respond well to industry shifts. By comparison, just 52% of all other firms are able to adjust course when ‘business as usual' suddenly isn't.

Add in some other, more intuitive benefits of employee training - such as increased employee engagement and morale - and the case for year-‘round staff training strategy becomes even stronger. Fortunately, being comprehensive in your commitment doesn't have to mean a major financial outlay.

These six ideas from business and human resources experts are all scalable to your company's budget and size.

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  • Match up employees with in-house mentors, suggests Jess Biller, president of the Paramount Consulting Group, which helps businesses select, manage, and develop employees for optimal growth. "Have your long-term employees help out the newer ones," he says. The two could meet monthly to discuss work challenges and solutions. "Also, ask the mentor to always be willing to assist with any questions - it's an example of tapping into an existing resource," Biller adds. With about 78 million Baby Boomers at or nearing retirement age, it's a smart move that can help preserve some of their valuable know-how.
  • Set up a shadowing program. "Start with the employees who are the most promising, and periodically rotate them through various departments or areas," suggests Zulmarie Padin, a career expert on the Univision morning show Despierta America. "One week they could be working with the production department, for instance, and then the next they could be with the marketing department. It's an experience that creates a lot of impact with the least resources," she says. Trainees will gain insight as to how your company's departments operate and cooperate, and may learn some new practices to adopt. In smaller companies where rotation is impractical, job shadowing could simply be one-on-one.
  • Embrace e-learning. It's a trend that's picking up steam, according to Heather Neisworth, a lecturer at Georgetown University who teaches employee engagement and internal communications. "You can create training videos in-house on various subjects, and then have employees watch them, or periodically send staffers an e-book to read, or hold webinars led by an experienced person in the company," she says. (These types of training materials can also be purchased.) Follow up these virtual learning experiences with a survey, quiz, or questionnaire to gauge what your staff has learned. The benefits of e-learning are numerous--your employees can go at their own pace, for instance, and review the material multiple times, all for a minimal investment on the company's part.
  • Follow formal training sessions with a lunch-and-learn wrap-up, says Kristen Fyfe-Mills, associate director of the Association for Talent Development. It gives everyone a chance to reinforce the material and get their lingering questions answered. "That allows employees in a class to continue learning together informally," Fyfe-Mills points out.
  • Build regular brainstorming sessions into employees' schedules. Describe a current company challenge, then ask the group to try to solve it. For instance, "a company that does this may be able to find innovative ways to connect with customers," says Farber. "These meetings typically can provide exceptional value, as they allow managers and employees to see a variety of perspectives and evaluate a large assortment of feedback."
  • Begin a remote internship initiative. Developing employees means more than just training the workers you already have. The most forward-thinking companies, says Neisworth, are starting remote, part-time internships for highly qualified candidates interested in exploring the field. "These interns typically Skype in to meetings and contribute to projects, doing things like research or writing," she explains. Quite frequently, she adds, the interns ultimately join the company, with both parties confident from the start that it's a good fit.

One final reason continual employee development is a must-do: Research shows that companies that increase the number of skilled managers--something training can help accomplish--can easily double their number of engaged workers. And those that achieve about 90% employee engagement can actually out-earn their competitors by $147 per share on average. It's stunning proof that with just a small number of innovative employee training programs, your company can rack up some impressive numbers of its own.

Source: http://dupress.com/articles/employee-engagement-strategies/#end-notes, footnote 6. Study referenced: http://dupress.com/articles/hc-trends-2014-introduction/