The benefits of training and development are multifaceted and deeply intertwined with an organisation’s success.
Investing in employee growth isn’t just a nod to personal development but a critical component in achieving operational excellence. By equipping staff with the skills and knowledge they need, businesses not only amplify their competitiveness but also foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.
This article delves into the myriad advantages of workplace training and how it shapes the trajectory of both employees and the wider organisation.
Understanding the Role of Training and Development
Training and development covers a broad spectrum of activities designed to enhance the technical, interpersonal, and decision-making skills of employees.
These activities range from on-the-job training, workshops, and seminars, to eLearning courses taken at work or in employees’ free time.
The objective is not just to make employees perform their current roles effectively but also to prepare them for future positions and responsibilities.
Recruitment and Retention
Training plays a significant role in recruitment and retention because it:
- Allows employees to upskill and apply for more senior roles, or positions in other departments within the same organisation.
- Encourages new applicants by demonstrating that the company has a culture of continuous development and improvement, something employees have been shown to value highly.
- Prevents existing employees from becoming frustrated or disillusioned, since the company is making efforts to develop them.
To the second point, a recent study of 1000 learning leaders and employees conducted by Crucial Learning revealed that 90% of surveyed employees believe L&D opportunities are essential to their job satisfaction and the same proportion cite L&D as an important factor when job seeking.
Employee Skills Enhancement
While it is true that there are always mandatory training courses that employees hope never to use (fire training and CPD, for instance), most well-designed courses are immediately practical to participants.
Courses such as project management, social media marketing and sales skills should be immediately applicable in their participants’ working lives.
Some courses provide extra knowledge, particularly when related to new software platforms, or new forms of organisational analysis (like Porter’s Five Forces). Others allow employees to brush up on interpersonal skills which convey general advantage (such as conflict resolution).
Well designed L&D programs result in employees who are more capable, more confident and, simply put, better at their roles.
Efficiency and Performance Gains
When L&D programmes focus on workplace skills, it can result in greater efficiency, better performance, and an improved bottom line.
According to a report by eLearning Industry: “businesses that spend at least $1,500 per employee annually on training activities reportedly earn 24% more profit than those with lower training budgets.”
People Management second this insight, citing the Virti 2023 State of Learning and Development Report. In this report, over two thirds of L&D professionals (67%) said their function had a positive effect on revenue.
However, these benefits only apply to well-designed L&D programmes that employees value and can use in their day-to-day roles. There lies the rub, since poorly constructed programmes, or a lack of any L&D, can have a negative effect.
Research from Totaljobs has revealed that 68% of employees have left a position due to a lack of learning and development opportunities.
Compliance and Assurance
Of course, the final reason to engage in training is that certain aspects of it are mandatory. Depending on what type of role employees have, and in what sector they work, there may be multiple courses they are obliged to take, from DE&I programmes to CPD courses to annual certifications.
Mandatory courses can come from industry bodies, from legal stipulations (such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) and from corporate L&D programmes. Such courses offer these bodies and organisations the reassurance that employees are at least minimally aware of the constraints, rules, and conditions under which they must operate.
These mandatory training programmes also reassure the public, when they are dealing with officials, particularly in the public sector and in professional roles, that these individuals adhere to a minimum standard of competence (and can be held accountable when they fail to.)
The Evolving Nature of Training and Development in the Workplace
Traditionally, training was seen as a one-time activity, often conducted during an employee’s induction. Think enacting CPR on a plastic dummy or learning which fire extinguisher to use for an electrical fire.
However, with rapid technological advancements and changing industry dynamics, the benefits of training and development have evolved.
Today’s businesses understand that continuous learning is paramount. It’s no longer about just “keeping up” but about staying ahead and leading in one’s industry. This has created something of an L&D boom.
In professional L&D, a panoply of courses and providers have flourished, giving employers numerous possibilities to choose from. Online platforms like Udemy and Skillshare have added at-home learning to the available options.
Professional Learning & Development has undergone significant transformation in recent years, driven by technological advances, changing workforce dynamics, and evolving business needs.
Here are some of the key changes which have taken place in recent years:
1: Digital Transformation: Traditional in-person training sessions are increasingly complemented or replaced by digital learning platforms. Tools like Learning Management Systems (LMS), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) are being used to deliver interactive and immersive learning experiences.
2: Microlearning: Recognising that attention spans are getting shorter, and that people often need instant information, L&D professionals are developing bite-sized learning modules. These modules are often 5-10 minutes long and focus on a single, specific topic.
3: Personalisation and Adaptive Learning: Advanced algorithms and AI are being used to tailor learning experiences to individual needs. These systems assess learners’ strengths and weaknesses and then adapt content accordingly.
4: A Focus on Soft Skills: There’s an increasing awareness that soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence, are just as crucial as technical skills. L&D programs now often include modules that address these areas.
5: Continuous Learning Culture: Organisations recognise that the rapid pace of change requires employees to continually upskill and reskill. There’s a shift from one-off training sessions to creating a culture of continuous learning.
6: Use of Data and Analytics: Advanced analytics tools allow L&D professionals to measure the effectiveness of training programs in real-time, adjusting content and learning strategies based on direct feedback and performance metrics.
7: Blended Learning: This approach combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.
8: Social Learning: Incorporating social networks and peer-to-peer learning has become more popular. Tools like discussion forums, social media platforms, and collaborative projects provide this.
9: Mobile Learning: With smartphones and tablets now ubiquitous, there’s a growing emphasis on developing content suited for these devices. This not only makes learning more accessible but also allows for “on-the-go” training.
10: Lifelong Learning: As the nature of work changes, there’s a growing emphasis on the importance of lifelong learning. Employees are being encouraged to take ownership of their own learning journeys, both to remain competitive in their current roles and to prepare for future shifts in their careers.
11: External Certifications and Badging: Organisations are recognising and sometimes incentivising employees to obtain external certifications. Digital badges are also becoming popular for demonstrating mastery in specific areas, or in the use of popular software like HubSpot.
12: Employee Well-being: Given the challenges of remote work, burnout, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic, L&D has started to integrate well-being modules, emphasising mental health, resilience, and stress management.
As society changes, so must L&D. So far it has proven highly open to change, and to using new technologies to provide better access, more personalisation, and a wider range of courses.
Aligning Training and Development with Organisational Goals
An effective training program aligns with an organisation’s strategies, goals, and values.
For instance, if a company aims to launch a new software product, relevant teams may undergo training to understand, market, or troubleshoot this product.
This might involve taking an off-the-shelf course or having an L&D provider create a bespoke session tailored to the new platform. Several departments may need training, including marketing, customer service, sales, and management.
This approach ensures that the learning and development benefits directly translate to operational success and goal achievement.
In a wider sense, an L&D program should align with a company’s values. For instance, if employee well-being is a major corporate value, then courses on work-life balance, yoga, meditation, or mental health might be provided.
If a brand’s core value is sustainability, then the company might engage an L&D provider to educate employees on how to exhibit this value within their workplace.
Strategic goals are vital too. If improving efficiency is a major priority, then courses on team building, project management, planning and time management may contribute to the achievement of this goal.
The Core Benefits of Workplace Training
Given its prevalence, and the value that employees and managers place upon it, let’s break down some of the chief benefits of workplace training.
Enhanced Employee Performance
By understanding their role and acquiring necessary skills, employees can execute their tasks with confidence and efficiency. This boosts productivity and improves the quality of work.
It’s important to set KPIs and identify metrics that can be used to measure the effectiveness of training, perhaps by comparing average performance before and after training.
For instance, if employees undertake a customer service course, you might compare results of customer satisfaction surveys prior to, and after, their training.
Increased Employee Satisfaction and Retention
When employees feel invested in their own training and development, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and stay with the company longer. This reduces the costs associated with high employee turnover.
It’s important to assess how employees feel about the training they are offered and undertake. Anonymised assessment forms should be considered a mandatory part of the process. Learners should be encouraged to be honest about how valuable and rewarding they found their training.
Adapting to Industry Changes and Innovations
Training ensures that employees stay updated with the latest industry trends and innovations, allowing businesses to remain competitive and relevant.
Whether it is learning new tech-related skills, such as the use of Chat-GPT, or data analytics, or soft skills like leadership or DEI, changes and developments within an industry, or within society at large, should be considered when choosing an L&D programme.
Reducing Skill Gaps and Shortcomings
Identifying and addressing skill gaps through training ensures that employees can tackle challenges head-on and that businesses remain agile.
Studies have shown that companies with good L&D programmes tend to be better able to adapt to change, or pivot strategically when necessary.
The 2023 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report puts it well: “Empowering employees with career development tools and internal mobility options, engages learners and expands workforce skills. The ultimate benefit is an organisation that can act quickly on valuable opportunities.”
Strengthening Company Reputation and Brand
A company dedicated to the benefits of employee training is seen as a desirable place to work, attracting top talent, and creating a positive public perception.
As we’ve seen, such companies are especially popular with jobseekers, because they promise a career, rather than just a job and a pay cheque.
In a world where the average time UK employees spend working for one company was just 4.6 years in 2019 (and 2.8 years for workers aged 25 to 34) anything that can increase loyalty is welcomed by employers.
Building Team Cohesiveness
Training sessions can foster teamwork, leading to improved communication and collaboration among employees.
It can lead to employees meeting and working together across departments for the first time, particularly if such training is delivered in-person, or in video conferencing sessions.
Courses which promote fun activities like games and challenges can help “break the ice” in departments with a morale problem. They can also help newly minted teams bond.
Encouraging Leadership and Personal Growth
Development initiatives can unearth potential leaders and pave the path for personal and professional growth.
This can happen explicitly, in courses on leadership or management, or it can happen organically, during team-building or brainstorming sessions.
Managers should ask L&D professionals for feedback on employee participation and performance to help them identify talented individuals who have shown abilities hitherto undiscovered.
Likewise, course participants may enjoy the opportunity to try out new skills and discover innate abilities they may wish to pursue as their career develops. Training environments can be seen as laboratories for personal growth.
Best Practices for Implementing Training Initiatives
Let’s finish with two straightforward pointers to help you incorporate meaningful and effective training into your workplace. These focus on training needs, and training methods.
Tailoring Training to Individual Needs
Recognize that each employee has unique strengths and weaknesses. Customised training plans can address specific needs more effectively than trying to impose a one-size-fits-all approach.
We’ve written a companion piece on different learning styles, something to keep in mind when designing or selecting courses.
Embracing Modern Learning Tools and Platforms
Leveraging e-learning platforms, VR training, or mobile learning apps can make training more engaging and accessible.
This is particularly important in the modern workplace where many employees may be employed on hybrid contracts or work remotely. It may simply prove impossible to get everyone in the same place at the same time for in-person sessions.
Incorporating a range of modalities, and providing access remotely, or on mobile devices, can help ensure that every employee feels included and provided for.
In addition, new technologies like VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality) can enable new types of training. Imagine battling a fire in VR or de-escalating a conflict.
Perhaps an AR app could be used to annotate an office or HQ to allow new employees to readily locate everything they need. Given the promise of these new technologies, companies are limited only by their budgets, and their imagination.
On lifelong learning
Embracing the benefits of training and development is not just a strategic move for businesses but a necessary one.
In a world where change is the only constant, continuous learning and adaptability contribute vitally to sustainable success. This is equally true from an individual or corporate perspective.
Organisations that prioritise and invest in their employees’ growth stand a better chance of not just surviving but thriving in their respective sectors.
To reap the full benefits of workplace training, it is crucial to implement best practices that cater to the diverse needs of your workforce.
This involves embracing modern learning tools and platforms, which bring the added advantage of flexibility and accessibility, ensuring that learning can take place anytime, anywhere.
Skillshub offers bespoke eLearning courses and an eLearning platform tailored to meet the unique needs of your organisation and its employees. With our resources at your disposal, the path to creating a learning-centric workplace becomes clear and achievable.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in transforming your training and development initiatives.