This is a guest post by Laura Garber. Laura, also known as the Career Coaching Expert, works with CraftResumes and helps individuals with their resume writing.
What’s the hallmark of a successful business?
Well, from a consumer standpoint, it’s exceptional customer service. Understandably, customers have always aligned themselves with brands that value customer service.
A big part of a company’s success, therefore, can be attributed to its employees. Companies that invest in employee development and train their employees to deliver first-class customer service are likely to:
- Gain a competitive advantage;
- Attract and retain the best talent in the industry;
- Realize a 24% increase in their profit margins.
Obviously, training and developing your employees gives them the necessary tools to do their jobs, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
This Process Street post will explain it all, by answering the following questions:
- What is employee development & why do it?
- What’s the difference between employee development & employee training?
- What are the main challenges of employee development & training?
- How do I implement a successful employee development program?
- Why is employee development a long-term investment for success?
What is employee development & why do it?
Put simply, employee development is a process that employees can follow to improve their skills and knowledge, with the support of their employer.
According to the Journal of Business and Management Sciences, employee development can improve the entire organizational culture by boosting morale and creating positive relationships. If staff members are offered the opportunity to improve and gain additional skills, they’ll feel respected, valued, and happier in their jobs. As a direct result, they‘ll become more motivated, more loyal, and more positive.
What’s the difference between employee development & employee training?
Employee training utilizes several programs to enable an employee to develop the necessary skills, practices, and competencies to help them do their job.
Employee development, on the other hand, comprises both professional, physical, and emotional schooling to holistically develop an employee.
But what does this mean?
Well, your staff aren’t machines that you can program to perform certain functions. They are people with emotional physical and intellectual needs. So, to bring out the best in your workforce, you need to focus on both training and developing your employees.
What are the main challenges of employee development & training?
As we’ve established, employee training and development is a crucial part of running a successful business. But, it does come with its fair share of challenges.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that many employees have had to adapt to working from home. This decentralization of the workforce presents new challenges when trying to implement a development and training program. In a remote setting, misunderstandings are common, and the cultural differences will be more pronounced.
Consider using social tools or dedicated remote work software to unify your team. Set specific goals, and let your team know exactly what is required during the training and development process.
Read this to find the best tools for managing remote teams.
Different learning techniques
It doesn’t matter whether you’re training or developing ten employees or 10,000: Everyone is different. People have different ways of learning and different ways of retaining information.
When drafting a training and development program, you must factor in such issues. For instance, one staff member might find it difficult to use technology to learn, while another might be totally tech-savvy and not know of any other way to learn.
So, you should consider different training programs for different groups. Senior staff members might require a different schedule to younger, tech-savvy employees.
When it comes to hands-on learning and development programs, there are many variables. However, one aspect that remains constant is engagement. You need to make sure that your employees are cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally engaged in the learning and development program.
It’s not uncommon for employees to withdraw themselves when they find the overall course challenging. To avoid such problems, consider using discussion forums to help encourage your workforce to interact, openly discuss problems, and offer support to each other.
Additionally, consider having avenues in which employees can come and openly express their personal or work-related issues to you.
So that’s what employee development is, what the difference between employee development and employee training is, and what the main challenges are.
How do I implement a successful employee development program?
Below, are 10 key tips for creating and implementing a successful employee development and training program. Let’s go through each one.
Tip #1: Have a clear goal in mind
The first step to developing a successful employee development and training program is understanding what you want to achieve with it.
To do this, you must start by identifying what your overall business goals are. Once this is sorted, you can then work backward to determine exactly what you need to achieve with your employee development and training program.
Brainstorm with management, leadership teams, and external stakeholders to determine what ‘good’ looks like. Establish what the key performance indicators (KPI’s) for successful employee development and training programs should be, and why these performance indicators are key to the success of your employee development and training programs.
Once you’ve worked out what you want your employee development and training to achieve and why, you can then focus on building the development and training program. Talk your employees through your ideas. Ask them for their feedback and analyze what they say. Find out what they think. Establish what works and what doesn’t, and tweak your plan accordingly.
Which leads us nicely onto tip number two!
Tip #2: Keep measuring satisfaction levels
Most employees consider training and development to be a crucial part of their career. New employees would leave an organization if suitable training and development opportunities weren’t available, and more than 2 in 3 workers would leave their current employer if a better development opportunity arose.
It’s therefore hugely important to get your employee development and training program right, from the start.
But how do you get it right?
By conducting career development surveys before you launch a development and training program, during the training and development program, and also as part of your new employee onboarding process.
Development surveys are used to measure employee satisfaction towards a development program. A well-crafted employee development and training survey will help you to:
- Understand how your employees feel about the current development and training opportunities;
- Establish the best course of action to avoid potential dissatisfaction in the future.
The last thing you want to do is invest a lot of money into a training or development course that your employees aren’t interested in. It will likely lead to failure, costly errors, and high staff turnover.
A development and training survey will help you to generate ideas that will enhance your development and training program while keeping the probability of failure low.
Tip #3: Ask employees want they want
To elaborate on tips 1 and 2, before you start an employee development and training program, you should talk to your employees.
Asking for your employee’s opinions on your proposed employee development and training programs will motivate them and give them a sense of belonging. They appreciate being asked for their thoughts via surveys because they can provide their honest thoughts and feelings anonymously, but still feel heard. This ultimately leads to increased loyalty and higher employee retention rates.
Tip #4: Choose the right people
One of the main challenges with employee development and training is finding the right professionals to bring out the best in your employees. A recent study showed that around 40% of employees are likely to leave an organization, after the first year, if they don’t have access to suitable development and training.
Poorly implemented training programs are not only bad for overall employee performance, but they are also a waste of time and money.
Don’t hire one training and development organization and leave them to it.
Carefully pick and choose the right people for the right training and development opportunities. Your employees will enjoy developing and training with professionals who understand them far more than a generic team of professionals who churn out standardized training and development plans.
Offload some of this risk by hiring people who can not only run fun and engaging sessions with your staff, but can also help you with setting up and implementing the required infrastructure for employee development and training.
Tip #5: Develop soft skills
Organizations are made up of different people, with different beliefs, from different backgrounds and cultures. For the business to function as a cohesive unit, you need to consider developing and training your employees on their interpersonal skills, or soft skills.
Soft skills refer to the interpersonal attributes that employees need in order to succeed in their line of work.
Listed below are the seven universally accepted soft skills:
- Leadership skills;
- Interpersonal skills;
- Flexibility and adaptability;
- Work ethic;
- Problem solving.
Your workforce needs individuals who possess the above skills, so make sure the development of these soft skills forms part of your employee development and training program.
Tip #6: Analyze your competition
At the end of the day, you are training and developing your employees so you can gain a competitive advantage over your business competitors.
Before settling for a particular employee development and training program, consider analyzing what your competition or industry leaders are doing. Cross-reference this information with what you’re aiming to do, to see what you can do to make your development and training program better than your competitions.
Consider networking with professionals at organizations, like the Society for Human Resource Management, to find out what’s going on in the world of training and development.
Tip #7: Use real life experiences
Training and development exercises are often delivered with rigidity. Principles and concepts are usually taken straight out of textbooks and can, as a result, be dull, dry, and difficult for your staff to comprehend.
According to professional life coach and trainer Michael Arnold, true stories and real-life examples can have a positive effect on people’s learning abilities. He suggests that training and development programs should include specific stories on how staff can use the skills and information learned, in their day-to-day tasks. It will not only break the monotony of constant textbook learning but it will also help your employees retain and use the information in their jobs.
Tip #8: Focus on the process
To make sure your employee development and training program is followed, without you having to constantly oversee it, you need to build a process around it.
Process Street is super-powered checklists. It’s a simple, easy to use, piece of workflow software that will allow you to create templates for your employee development and training programs, and run individual checklists from these templates, each time a member of staff needs to complete the program.
Watch this video, or read this article, to find out a little more:
You can build your own employee development and training templates from scratch, or you can browse our template library and use as many of our pre-made templates as you like. Try these out for starters:
Employee Development Plan Template
This Employee Development Plan Template is designed to help you improve employee engagement, encourage retention, and establish a pipeline of promotable talent.
Training Plan Template
This Training Plan Template will help you train your staff in a way that will improve production and generate efficiencies. This in turn will cut costs, reduce mistakes, build confidence, and create a better working environment.
Employee Satisfaction Survey
This Employee Satisfaction Survey will help you to establish what your workforce thinks about the way the company operates, how they feel about their job, and if they understand and agree with the direction of the company.
To access these templates, log in and add them to your account, or sign up for a free trial.
Tip #9: Track their progress
When you implement a new employee development and training program, you expect to see a positive change to your employee’s job satisfaction and performance, right?
But, beware! There are so many development and learning programs out there, that are not worthwhile. Some programs can be uninspiring, generic, and not at all optimized for the growth and development of your employee’s skills.
The last thing that you want, as a business owner or manager, is to invest time, money, and resources into a failing course.
Tracking your employee’s progress with their training and development is the only way to ensure that you catch substandard training and development programs and make the necessary changes before it’s too late.
But how do you do that?
By gaining access to a performance dashboard.
A performance dashboard, like Process Streets’ checklist dashboard, will give you an overview of the progress each of your employees is making with their training and development. It will allow you to see which training and development checklists have been completed, which tasks are overdue, who has completed what, and where the problems with certain programs might lie.
It will help you see which employees are developing and growing as you’d expect, and which aren’t and, therefore, might need different training and development opportunities.
Not only that, but if you use Process Street to create your training and development programs, you can automatically connect your programs to the platforms you use regularly, via Zapier, webhooks, or API integration. This means, for example, that you can transfer data from your training and development checklists into your HR platform, and create progress reports quickly, without any time-consuming, manual input of data.
Find out more by watching this webinar on automation:
Tip #10: Make it fun
As much as employee development and training programs are supposed to be taken seriously, they can be monotonous or ‘boring’ from time to time.
According to Brandon Schroth, a digital manager at Gillware, the best way to ensure that your workforce remains motivated to keep developing and learning, is to run fun and engaging training and development sessions and offer incentives.
Why is employee development a long-term investment for success?
Employee development and training programs are beneficial to both business owners and their workforce.
On one hand, you’ll create a productive workforce that generates revenue for the shareholders and business owners. On the other hand, you’ll have a workforce that is motivated to work and is pushed to explore new opportunities for growth.
One thing is for sure though: if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.
If you can create an effective learning and development program and weave it into your company culture, you’ll give yourself a competitive advantage.
Hopefully, with these 10 tips, you’ll be able to develop an effective, yet cost-efficient training and development program for your workforce.
We’d love to hear about the different ways you develop your employees in the comments below.👇 Who knows? You may even get featured in an upcoming article!