Your Ultimate Guide to Optimising Training and Development in the Workplace
Many organisations view training and development as a nice-to-have at worst and necessary at best. We’re here to tell you it’s vital to the success of your business.
Most of us been through training and development, both formal and informal, throughout our education and careers. But few of us have an idea of just how key it is to our forming our skills and mindsets, and even less of a clue how to successful implement it in the workplace.
So, where do you begin with training and development? Our guide will walk you through everything you need to know.
What is training and development?
Not to be confused with learning and development, training and development refers strictly to educational activities within an organisation designed to enhance knowledge and skills, while specifically providing information on how to perform tasks better.
The difference between training and development
No, ‘training and development’ is not just one broad term. Training is the act of learning or improving skills and knowledge necessary for a particular job role or function. It’s considered a short-term, skills-based process that aims to fill in knowledge or capability gaps; for example, learning how to use a new software. In this sense, it’s about meeting organisational goals and decreasing performance deficiencies.
On the other hand, development aims to change behaviour. It’s a conceptual, long-term process that focuses less on skills and more on developing resilient and adaptable individuals. It’s generally dependent on an individual’s personal drive and ambitions (only you can change your behaviour, after all). Developing skills with a longer shelf life is the key, with the aim to achieve better capacity for growth throughout their careers, not just one job role.
Why you need to know this
Simply put, it’s about understanding the difference between skillsets and mindsets and short- and long-term change. But speaking more complexly, knowing the difference will help you best harness learned skills and use them to develop behaviours that contribute to organisational success. If poor attitudes towards learning permeate your workforce, there’s no use upskilling because employees simply won’t possess the belief (or self-belief) their new skills are useful for them or your organisation.
Why training and development is important in the workplace
There’s a little thing called external rate of change. Technology has changed the pace at which we’re working, forcing some pretty notable disruptions in organisational structures and practices. Take the development of mobile phones. Most big companies pivoted as consumers showed more and more affinity for touch screen devices—except for BlackBerry. And look at them now.
Instead of seeing technology as the enemy, we implore you to see it as the key to innovation and ensuring your internal rate of change matches, if not outpaces, the external.
Familiar with the term change management? Combined with tech, it allows leaders to:
- Make more informed decisions quicker
- Empower managers to act proactively to opportunities and threats
- Enable employees to be more flexible and collaborative.
All in all, it gives an organisation a critical competitive advantage.
Why you need to know this
Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, famously said, “When the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Skills don’t have a very long shelf life anymore; in fact, most are expected to be redundant within five years. If existing skills are driving your internal change, and many are either past their use-by or coming close, then you can bet your organisation will be left behind. Fast.
And a long-term change management strategy just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Organisations often don’t have the luxury of time to test initiatives, because that glacial internal rate is just not competitive with the change happening in external markets. Therefore, without training and development, your organisation will lack the knowledge, skills and drive to stay competitive, let alone set business goals and priorities (and forget achieving them).
The organisational benefits of training and development
While training and development holistically offers many benefits to individuals, it’s really a sure fire way to make an organisation more marketable, a fiercer competitor, and sustainable and flexible to change.
Better performance (and performance management)
To stay competitive in their niche or industry, an organisation must outperform their peers. This is directly impacted by the performance of employees.
Employee training and development not only gives employees the confidence and skills they need and the context in which to use them, but it ensures they are aware of the performance expectations in the organisation they work for by benchmarking particular job roles skills are needed for. This then allows organisations to shrewdly track, maintain and even exceed the business outcomes that employee performance aligns with.
As employees become more productive, efficient and confident in their developing skills and roles, the need for supervision will lessen. Of course there will always be need for managers, but reduced micromanagement will allow them to direct their resources to areas that might require it more. Plus, employees who feel trusted, independent and empowered are more likely to be satisfied, committed and perform better.
Increased flexibility & innovation
The constant state of industry change means new and unprecedented challenges are materialising. The solution is to transform to an agile state, whereby your organisation is designed for both stability and dynamism with a network for teams enabled by technology.
Agile organisations can quickly rejig strategy, structure, processes and technology as needed, giving themselves something of a competitive edge even in ambiguous conditions. But they need employees with growth mindsets to do so. People who are trained to persevere and view challenges as opportunities, eschewing bias based on past events, are confident in the face of change.
Improved organisational culture
Offering personalised professional training and development creates a highly attractive working environment, both for existing employees and potential recruits.
- It conveys you’re invested in their learning and development, not just their output.
- It creates a culture of self-improvement and willingness to learn, especially from mistakes.
- It encourages better communication as employees undertake common courses or mentor team members in courses they’ve already completed.
Employees who feel appreciated and are challenged through training are likely to feel more satisfied in their jobs and strive to perform better. And a workplace rooted in training and development signals to new hires their growth is something that is valued and they should value.
Better resource allocation
In-house training and development can help save big bucks in the long run. Lack of career development is the reason 40% of outgoing employees choose to leave an organisation. The cost of replacing each employee lost can be as much as a third of their salary, at a minimum. Then there’s the resources needed to train a new hire. As employee base pay increases, reskilling and upskilling existing employees not only keeps your organisation competitive, but saves you time and money.
Enhanced employee lifecycles
Leadership, as an example, doesn’t come packaged in a degree—it’s a behaviour. You want entry level employees to stay long enough to become leaders in your organisation because not only are they then well-versed in your company values and expectations, but they understand the context in which your company has evolved in their tenure. Developing soft skills that can benefit employees later in their career shows they are valued beyond the work they do.
Enhanced company reputation
Bluntly stated, recruiting is as much about what an employee needs from organisation is at is what an organisation needs in an employee. Training opportunities that are particularly aimed at developing growth mindsets, such as mentorship, make an organisation more attractive to new recruits by signalling your commitment to employees’ professional and personal development, which in turn helps to foster a sense of loyalty in your employees.
And side note: opportunities for training and development make you more attractive to a younger generation driven by purpose, not profit.
Maximised profitability & ROI
Inevitably, profit and return on investment does play a role in training and development initiatives. Highly skilled employees will produce a better quality of work in a more efficient manner, because they’ve learned the skills needed to produce high quality output and, most importantly, are invested in the work. Productivity increases through training, and efficiency comes through development. Both ensure the success of projects that in turn improve turnover and market share.
Different types of training and development
Depending on an organisation’s size, diversity and needs, there’ll be different training and development programs on offer. Some may place weight on quality assurance training, to ensure output complies with industry standards, while safety training is considered a stalwart of almost all industries, fields and businesses.
We’ve listed some types of training and development that enhance individual skillsets, affect mindsets and ultimately contribute to the success of an organisation below.
At the start of every employee’s lifecycle is the onboarding process. It’s usually designed to imbue new hires with the information they need to assimilate into company culture and perform their new jobs well. Onboarding periods encapsulate orientation and probation, and end when an employer deems an employee can confidently work independently. Perhaps most importantly, onboarding is designed to connect the goals of an individual’s work and team with the company objectives. Items addressed in onboarding include:
- Needs as a new hire
- Departmental goals
- Expectations of performance and improvement
- Technical aspects
Why onboarding is important
An optimal onboarding experience clarifies expectations, shows employers how a new hire will fit into different workplace contexts, and acculturates the recruit to organisational culture while expressing their own visions or ideas. If you don’t set the right tone early, you risk losing one third of new hires within six months. (And if you don’t think that’s bad, wait until their reviews start popping up on sites like Glassdoor.)
Since we’ve spent a lot of time sowing the seeds for how technology has disrupted the landscape, we’d be remiss to leave out technical training. These skills are often a basic component of a job role that can be either enhanced or developed entirely from scratch, depending on an individual’s aspirations and workforce planning needs. Some technical skills include:
- Content writing
- Data analysis
- Project management
Why technical skills are important
The everyday tasks your employees perform rely heavily on their technical skills. Ensuring technical skills are not just up to date but that your employees are continuously upskilling and reskilling ensures your organisation stays relevant, realises business goals faster and ultimately keeps both employees and customers satisfied.
They aren’t seen as intrinsic to a successful performance, but soft skills are becoming increasingly vital in the workplace. While up to 60% of jobs are projected to become automated, there will always be room for creativity, leadership, lateral thinking and emotional intelligence—because they have longevity. Training people how to lead and motivate, work collaboratively and even listen more empathically can correlate to better customer service and stronger rapport in teams and departments. Soft skills that will never go out of fashion include:
- Conflict resolution
Why soft skills are important
Soft skills are innate human qualities, which means that lacking them, your employees aren’t going to be able to be empathetic, communicate respectfully, or manage time and projects. As AI becomes more prevalent in workplace processes, human-centric skills are increasingly crucial to interpreting, adapting and applying information in terms of business goals.
Many industries and fields will require continual professional development (here’s looking at you, healthcare). The goal is to obtain certification and very specific information that is essential to performing a job. Often, CPD comes with the overbearing threat of heavy fines, loss of licenses and even discreditation when not upheld—making it a process on which not just success but often livelihoods hinder. CPD is often delivered externally through accredited third parties.
Why CPD is important
Switch your mindset from seeing CPD as an investment to a return on investment. The ROI in terms of career benefits for employees and highly productive and professional employees for employers, which ultimately contributes to market standing, reputation and competitiveness.
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