Why Employee Training Is 1 of Your Most Valuable Business Tools

Every business wants to attract, develop and retain the best talent available. A good training regimen is a way to do just that — while also finding opportunities to upgrade your operations as a whole.
Headshot of author Vikas Agrawal
Vikas Agrawal
Expert Columnist
April 5, 2021
Updated: April 6, 2021
Headshot of author Vikas Agrawal
Vikas Agrawal
Expert Columnist
April 5, 2021
Updated: April 6, 2021

The digital transformation we have experienced in the past decade in the workplace means there are more opportunities to train employees now more than ever. But too many managers still view employee training as a simple, straightforward affair. This is especially true when you’re discussing its benefits.

Here’s what I mean.

Ask some managers about the benefits of employee training. Many will mention greater employee engagement and retention, increased productivity, reduced business costs alongside higher profits and increased innovation in products or services. The list goes on and on.

These responses all share a common theme: The benefits for the organization outweigh the benefits for the employees. So, let’s change that mindset, shall we?

The list below isn’t just focused on how employee training benefits employees, though. It also marks out ways in which employee training can nudge managers to identify other areas where they can further help employees. Used effectively, training is a valuable resource both for employees and for the company as a whole.

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Training Boosts Career Trajectory

A LinkedIn analysis showed that shorter job posts (between one and 300 words) get more applications overall. Following that insight, some organizations withhold details about a role in the job description to attract more applications. As a result, employees often discover they have additional responsibilities once they get onboarded with a new company. Getting them up to speed requires additional training, but this is also an opportunity for you to invest in an employee’s growth.

Every time you hire someone new, you’ll have to provide them with a certain amount of training to acclimate them to your specific processes. This training can also help you to determine additional tasks that your employees can handle without deviating from their core responsibilities. Additionally, you can project what your employee’s career advancement trajectory may look like.

For example, your content marketer’s main tasks may be writing, editing, basic design, publishing and content distribution tasks. All of these responsibilities were in the job description. But during or after subsidized external industry training, they may become proficient in specific marketing and data analytics software, tracking KPIs and responsibly allocating marketing resources.

With these additional skills, they can easily grow into a content manager, head of content or content marketing manager role. The ability to develop a talent pipeline in-house and promote people to management roles from within your organization is vital. You can simultaneously build employee loyalty and ensure continuity of operations by developing a deep bench within your company.

If you aren’t able to promote someone after the upskill, you can still offer them a pay raise as they take on new responsibilities. Better pay incentives are always welcome, and the employee will have their new skills for life.

This type of investment will also benefit retention. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of respondents said that a company’s investment in growing their skills would incentivize their staying with that company. That’s a pretty satisfying number.

So, if you’re willing to invest in your employees and boost their career growth, they’ll likely reward you with loyalty.

 

Training Uncovers Hidden Problems

Training employees can help you discover both their deficiencies and those of existing management systems at your business.

For example, during training, you may discover that some employees are easily fatigued and have aches or pains that do not allow them to sit for the entire duration of a session. And this happens even when the training sessions are relatively short.

That may be a sign of employee burnout. And this could mean that management is overworking employees and needs to pay close attention to employee well-being.

A CareerBuilder survey reveals that 31 percent of respondents struggle with elevated stress at work. This manifests itself in problems including fatigue, aches and pains, sleepless nights, anxiety and anger issues, to mention just a few.

Often, when workers are stressed, offering them more vacation time can help combat it. For others, workshops on stress management may be beneficial. Implementing these procedures after noticing the signs of burnout in training will help your business to thrive in the long run.

A good training regimen will also help you spot flaws in your operating procedures. A few years ago, a company I worked with promoted staff into management positions simply because they had stayed with the organization for a certain number of years. Although these employees were loyal, they weren’t necessarily prepared for their new roles. As more long-tenured employees moved into management positions, employee turnover in the company reached an all-time high.

To curb the problem, managers in two departments underwent comprehensive management training. When they returned and applied what they learned, those departments saw a full year with no resignations. But the turnover in other departments remained the same. In some, it grew even worse.

The organization soon realized that it had a widespread management problem. Thus, the company instituted the management training across the board. In the year after this training became mandatory, only three employees resigned — a huge reduction from the average of 15 annual resignations they had seen before the training initiative.

The solution to this deficiency only became apparent after the first set of managers took management courses and applied what they learned.

This experience may sound like an isolated problem, but it isn’t. Consider these numbers:

  • 70 percent of employees say they do not have mastery of the skills they need for their current jobs.
     
  • 57 percent of experts on professional development rate leadership and management as high priority skills, even above engineering and coding.

If a majority of employees are struggling with their current jobs, how can they be prepared to move up the ladder and take on more managerial and leadership roles? Instituting a regular and robust training program will solve both of these problems. It not only bolsters your employees’ loyalty to you, but will also prepare them to take on more challenging roles. To develop your in-house talent pipeline, you’ll want to ensure you have training opportunities to focus on everything from day-to-day tasks to leadership.

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Training Highlights Gaps in Existing Systems

For many enterprises, existing management systems are set in stone. They become a tradition. But this doesn’t mean that they’re always the best possible structure for your employees and your organization.

Many organizations use employee management software to eliminate manual processes and increase productivity. Some of these tools include at least one or more solutions for time management, performance management and human resource management.

During some types of employee training, employees can leave anonymous, honest feedback without any shame or fear of repercussions. Compare the feedback you receive during such training against the type you get during normal meetings without anonymity.

You may discover that you’ve missed out on valuable information. You can handle this in one of two ways:

  • Encourage employees to leave honest feedback and assure them there will be no repercussions.
     
  • Change existing systems to allow for anonymous feedback.

When employees can freely speak their minds, you’ll readily decipher what their needs are and how you can help them to excel. They’ll often point out places in which longstanding methods and policies are no longer effective, allowing you to meet challenges more effectively.

Employee feedback isn’t the only place you can get this kind of information, however.

For example, the sales team might undergo training on business process automation. After the training, you may notice that the sales team is more productive. They’re talking to more leads, sending more follow-ups, closing more deals and looking much happier overall.

That improved performance would be a good signal to examine how to simplify the lives of other teams in your organization. Evaluate what types of automation will be valuable for your marketing, hiring, accounting and product teams. Once you do, ensure that they get the training necessary to successfully automate repetitive processes, and you’ll have a more productive, happier workforce.

 

Not Training Employees Has Costs

Your organization would probably not be where it is today if not for your employees. You should always strive to make your business an attractive target for the best talent and endeavor to have high levels of employee retention. Great training programs are a way to do just that.

So the next time you’re organizing employee training programs, consider how you can use them to further satisfy your employees’ needs. The examples above are a good starting point. They’re just examples though, so use them as an inspiration for your ideas.

When you do it right, you’ll have happier employees, and your finances will thank you for it too.

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