Where training needs are not recognised and met, morale and productivity problems can often follow. What’s more, failure to identify training requirements could lead to costly mistakes or cause you to lose out on a lucrative contract. That’s before we consider the fines levied in some sectors for failure to comply with legislation. If you’ve identified learning and development as an area for improvement in your growing business, it’s time to step up and start planning your strategy.
Why is L&D important?
Employees have come to view training opportunities as an important part of their employment package and rightly so. According to a recent survey by TotalJobs, 68% of employees have changed their job due to a lack of development opportunities. Separate research carried out by learning technology provider D2L reveals that only 55% of employees are satisfied with their company’s learning and development programme. And when it comes to choosing where to work, 38% of employees take into account the quality of employee training available at a company when making their decision. Add in the fact that the TotalJobs research found that both employers and employees find productivity to be higher after training is delivered and you have a pretty convincing argument to prioritise L&D.
Continuous and compliant
One of the things that can make it difficult to keep track of training needs is the fact that learning requirements can arise on a project-by-project or one-off basis and these need to be handled alongside more predictable training needs. This means a successful staff training and development programme will need to incorporate the ability to service flexible and continuous learning as required along with sector-specific compliance such as annual health and safety or data handling training.
Many smaller companies choose to outsource all training but as an organisation grows and L&D needs become more complex, you may find that it’s time to bring in designated staff to oversee L&D needs across the business.
Personal development plans based on regular reviews between line managers and staff can also help to fuel continuous development for employees but it’s incredibly important that these are not simply used as a tick box exercise. As a business, consider how you will support your employees in their personal development goals. Will you provide work shadowing or mentoring opportunities? Could you support staff in gaining professional qualifications by offering funding or time to study?
Keeping track of what training has been completed and when needn’t be complex. You could choose to start out with something very simple like an Excel training log, which can be filtered to find which employees have completed certain courses or can be searched by date ranges to see when training needs to be updated. There is also a wide range of learning management systems on the market designed to handle training management in larger organisations. One strategy that can really pay dividends for staff development is to embed training into workflows so that requirements are covered off as a matter of course. If this is something that appeals to you, using digital kanban software can help to highlight when training is likely to be required.
Technology is also increasingly used for administering training. Whether it’s the sharing of best practice and guides within collaborative spaces like Sharepoint, completing e-learning courses or using visual aids like videos to break down tricky topics, could harnessing technology help you to put more time-effective training in place?
Measure and reward
Training can have so many benefits for your business, from building confidence to upskilling staff so that you save on recruitment costs. It’s therefore important to recognise and celebrate achievements, both for your company and your employees. Measuring development success is also a good way of showing the positive results of investing in training. As above, working towards goals set in personal development plans and reviewing progress against objectives can help to measure training success. If you’d like to implement a formal framework you could explore working towards Investors in People accreditation.
At an individual level, recognising efforts to upskill or gain new qualifications by giving staff a congratulatory mention in meetings or newsletters can have a really positive impact. It shows the staff member concerned that you are aware of their efforts and value their development. It also raises wider awareness of opportunities for development among your staff. All of this can help to create a culture of positive staff engagement.