Ongoing Employee Training: Why Do You Need It, And How Do You Do It?


by Igor Efremov, Head of Talent Acquisition at Itransition

To bring maximum value to your organization, you need eager and passionate employees. But it’s not so easy to train smart young people who have the latest technology on their side. They are instantly connected to informed online communities and feel like they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves.

Millennials typically want to feel included and like being an active part of the team. So how do you motivate and stimulate them without them feeling like they are being talked down to or preached at?

Why do you need training programs?

When it comes to professional development and career growth, 87% of millennials say it’s important to them in a job. Why is it then that training budgets are never on top of the list, and are the first ones to be cut when times get rough?

Not everyone understands the reasons why training is so important. But the reality is this: employees have changed over the last few decades. Today, people want to buy products and services with a cause, and they want to be in a job that has real meaning for them.

Contemporary employees feel valued and genuinely cared for only when professional development is taken seriously. No one wants to be stuck in a rut, doing the same thing for years. The more capable the employee, the thirstier they are for new knowledge.

Training and planning for subsequent further growth builds loyalty and results in more productivity. People also need a change in perspective from time to time. Increases in responsibilities often motivate them to reach their maximum potential, but those are impossible without training.

Ongoing training that brings teams together may also be good for overall morale in the company. Growth and training opportunities are unchanging factors that determine workplace happiness. Engaged and efficient employees are not only productive but also happy because they feel secure in both the present and the future.

Support and mentoring helps them enjoy that feeling of connectedness, and companies with great team spirit usually have better reputations, with more satisfied customers. Training events may also bring different company levels together regularly in informal settings to discuss questions openly at a round table. It helps employees feel one with the organization when they know they can ask the CEO a tricky question and actually get an answer.

There are different aspects to making sure your business is sustainable for years to come. Training employees is a very big part of that, so here are our ten reasons to train your employees:

  1. Technologies and business markets change — employee skills have to stay up-to-date
  2. Training increases loyalty and job satisfaction
  3. Training programs help increase productivity and profits
  4. Training builds a stronger company culture and reputation
  5. Training affords genuine motivation with development and growth opportunities
  6. Training breaks the monotony of everyday workflow
  7. It keeps staff challenged, engaged, and on their toes in the best way
  8. It creates a positive prospect for the future
  9. Staff training can make the business more attractive to prospective buyers
  10. Accompanied by pizza and fizzy drinks, training is a fun, stress-free experience

How do you train employees effectively?

Improving the range and level of skills in workers can be done in many different ways. For example, my software development company Itransition focuses on project-based knowledge exchange and mentoring supported by their corporate wikis. When employees feel a personal connection to their up-skilling, they are more likely to give their all. It may be a good idea to also widen their skills beyond their narrow area of expertise to help every part of the company function as a whole.

Training can take on any form. There are traditional refresher courses like online or offline seminars, web conferencing, online tutorials, and forum discussions. Then there are contemporary on-demand personalized mentoring systems and teaching staff learning and thinking techniques. To help people learn faster and more effectively, many companies are broadening their teams’ knowledge of how the brain works and what they can do to make it more productive.

But before you decide whether to train in-house using your best talent or outsource to training providers, you need to get to know your employees on a personal level.  Real value comes from real training. When things are done in a red-tape fashion, just to tick off the right box, they rarely change the situation. To avoid this, follow our six tips on how to train your employees effectively:

Before you assume your employees don’t know something, make sure that’s really the case.

New skills will only stick if they are actually useful. It’s a good idea to spend time discovering the gaps in their learning because it’s very inefficient to waste hours and hours on things they already know. Everyone has an encyclopedia in their pocket nowadays (Google) that gives straightforward answers (not lengthy, eccentric allegories that many outspoken executives like to present) and works like the human brain.

Reach a profound understanding of where each employee is and where they need/want to be.

You can test them, observe them (if you work with them directly), or ask them questions about what they want to learn and where they see themselves in 5-10 years. Then use that information to build customized training programs.

Notice how different people learn.

The aspect of how to learn is just as important as what to learn. Some people like to be “fed” solutions at an intensive seminar. Others excel when you push them off the edge (previously having pointed out good sources to look at for answers) and let them fly free. People who need room to breathe are better off watching video tutorials on their own schedule. Those who need structure and order may benefit more from person-to-person classroom training with clear scheduling and reporting. It will take time and effort to individualize training for everyone, but it’s worth it in the end.

Keep an eye on the latest training techniques.

The newest trend, based on data analysis, is adaptive learning and personalized training, where metrics and machine learning algorithms help you understand which employee is in need of which training module. Using technology, it is now easier to plan and execute personalization. Once you know what employees know and don’t know and what they need to know and what skills are irrelevant to them, you can start building programs that really work.

Make sure you exercise control and track completion and progress of your training efforts.

This doesn’t need to be an extensive test — just a few simple questions to see if staff have done their homework. If the training program was failed or was completed only partially, make sure you know what went wrong. Feedback is extremely important so you can avoid mistakes in the future.

Make a big deal out of training.

Record training milestones in your employees’ performance and development plan. Incentivize employees with competitions and prizes and remember to have an informal party to celebrate when training is complete.

The training industry has changed dramatically over the last few decades. No longer do you expect to start with a blank slate every time you welcome a new employee into your offices. Even the youngest employees are capable, full of energy, eager to learn, and able to learn both with guidance and on their own. They have the latest technology that can be instantly applied to help them grow.

People are also more flexible than ever — ready to work in marketing with a physics degree or switch from tech to a managerial position mid-career. Successful employees refresh their skills all the time and know it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest skills and standards.

The ability to learn fast and be flexible is often more desirable than a degree that ages as soon as you get it. Spending quality time training employees is bound to translate to better value, higher ROI, and customer satisfaction.

 

Igor Efremov is Head of Talent Acquisition at Itransition, a Denver-based software development company. He applies 5+ years of executive experience to optimize human resource processes, streamline workplace collaboration and empower employees. Now he shares his expertise in fields of implementing workplace technologies, bringing digital transformation into the office and improving enterprise-to-employee relationships.



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