Employee training is essential for an institution’s success. Despite the importance of training, there can be resistance, with claims that training costs too much and takes employees away from real work. Proper allocation of training budgets and resources requires fundamental and important business decisions. Most likely, the demand for training exceeds capacity and budgets and is viewed as an expense – which is continually scrutinized. As a result, resources need to be focused on those initiatives that are important and which can maximize the training investment and demonstrate value. There are a number of questions that arise as employee training is considered and evaluated:
- How can decisions on funding training programs be optimized?
- Should money and resource allocations be equally spread across programs?
- Should the focus be on a few programs, with eLearning or blended solutions being favored to spread the investment?
- How can spending on the training function be prioritized in advance to deal with the constant challenge of new products, regulations and initiatives that require training?
- Does the same training work for everyone, or does it need to be tailored to the individual?
All these questions cannot be answered here, but there is a definite and measurable effect when you decide to invest in and train your staff. The results of formal training can jumpstart projects, motivate employees, streamline processes, cut costs, and even give your institution a competitive advantage.
Reap your competitive reward
Ongoing training can set your institution ahead of the pack. Employees, particularly younger generations, are eager to work for places that offer more than just a paycheck. They want to learn new skills. On the flip side, experienced employees don’t want to fall behind and they have years of experience and knowledge to share. Investing in people shows your commitment to employees, which in turn fosters commitment in them. Not training employees creates the opposite of what you want — indifferent, unmotivated workers. In fact, trained employees need less supervision and make fewer mistakes. That frees you up to focus on your core business: growing your institution and implementing even more cost-saving processes and programs – all of which boosts your competitive edge. Not a bad deal.
Benefits of employee training and development include:
- Employees are better prepared to help the institution achieve its goals
- Staff are more productive
- Employees are more motivated
- Well-trained staff require less supervision
- Pool of employees ready to replace others who leave
- Staff that engage in continuous learning are better able to deal with changes in the organization
- Staff are able to manage/work on new programs
- Your institution will be more successful at attracting and retaining talent
How Best to Train
There are a variety of training options available, and an institution should do its due diligence to identify the training program, or programs, that will work best for its employees.
In-house and free resources
Periodic in-house training, done in a group setting, can teach communication, customer service, team building, and technical skills. Doing this while employees are on the job reinforces learning, which then can be applied right away to their work. Users groups and professional associations, like networks, provide employees an opportunity to stay current in their chosen field. Free online resources such as technical websites can offer immediate answers to questions. Though there is little cost for in-house and free training, the benefits can be limiting. Many large corporations and institutions are outsourcing training management, training development, training delivery, and training administration and support. By capitalizing on the strengths of internal and external resources, the impact of training programs may be maximized while still reducing cost.
You can also offer off-site training by sending employees to one-day seminars, college courses, workshops, and e-learning websites (Pluralsight, and others). Though they seem costly, these training opportunities can be seen as an employee perk – something to reward or inspire superb workers. This kind of training provides new skills, stimulates creative ideas and instills employee commitment, which is brought back to the workplace. Your staff members will more likely show initiative and be motivated. General training can be more costly, but the depth of knowledge is greater and can offer certifications or continuing education hours. The disadvantage can be that it is not specific to your business needs or to the software packages being used.
These are formal training opportunities that can be offered to employees either internally or externally. A trainer, facilitator and/or subject matter expert can be brought into your institution to provide the training session, or an employee can be sent to one of these learning opportunities during work time. Training conducted by vendors, consultants, or training corporations (Skillpath, and others) are the most costly, but also offer the most return on investment. The specific skills taught and depth of content offered are unmatched and can be customized to your institution. Many software vendors offer professional services, where an expert that knows the industry and the software can train to your needs.
Make continual learning and training a priority. Software and processes change at a rapid pace, and keeping up with changing trends only happens by taking a proactive approach to learning. Strive to share information and document processes. There are many tools to help with this need, such as network drives, cloud based storage and additional software solutions. Make continuous training a yearly goal. Self-paced independent reading and eLearning courses provide learning opportunities, allowing the employee to engage in the learning activity by choice and at his or her desired pace of learning.
Training reporting staff is an integral part of any institution and should not be ignored. The return on investment can be quickly realized by seeing a reduction in errors, improved efficiency, and a higher quality level of work completed. Each staff member has strengths and weaknesses in the way they learn. Finding the type of training that is right for their learning style can make the difference in a successful training or learning experience.