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How to Implement a Highly Effective Employee Training Programme

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There has been an age-old saying at the heart of employee development, as quoted in this piece in McKinsey.

“Since the 1980s, many organisations have followed the maxim that managers learn 70 per cent of their skills on the job, 20 per cent through social interaction, and only 10 per cent through formal training courses”.

In the heady days of untrammelled growth and talent surplus, the lack of empower-directed training was barely a side note in recruitment strategy or business growth. Careers were more fixed, career security to a degree more predictable, and workforces were able to guarantee a steady and sustainable salary without disruption. 

In the post-pandemic world of 2022 and indeed into 2023, the lay of the training land has changed. Employee training is a must-have. It’s an in-demand workplace “perk”. Businesses that engage in a hands-on L&D strategy benefit from better recruitment outcomes, better staff retention and better revenue generation.

While employee training programs are never cheap, the question employers have to ask themselves is can we afford not to train our people?

The answer lies in seeing employee training as one important part of an overall culture of business development. Your people are your business - invest in them, and they’ll reap rewards for you.

The reskilling imperative 

As we hurtle toward Web3 and the inevitable digitisation of almost everything, there is a succinct business case for upping skills training and reskilling your workforce. In fact, your future business relies on it:

  •  “About 30.5 million UK workers (94 per cent of today’s workforce) lack the full suite of skills they will require in 2030 to perform their jobs well”.
  •  “More than 1 billion jobs, almost one-third of all jobs worldwide, are likely to be transformed by technology in the next decade, according to OECD estimates”.
  •  “In the next decade (in the UK), 26 million workers would require upskilling to keep up to date with technological and business developments as their role evolved. Meanwhile, another five million would go through a fundamental job change and require retraining”.

This is coupled with the fact employees want training opportunities. In keeping with the driving forces behind the great resignation, people readily leave employment and seek new opportunities with companies that do centre L&D as part of the day-to-day.

  •  “40 per cent of employees do not see a clear path to advance their careers…49 per cent of employees want to develop their skills but don't know where to begin…More than half (52 per cent) of workers said they need to learn new skills within the next year to continue their careers; 46 per cent of employees said they are not as skilled as they need to be”.

In light of the changing nature of candidate expectations and how careers are built on L&D, here are some guiding principles on how to implement an effective employee training programme. 

1) Identify where improvements need to be made

Employee skills training should be focused on two things - how you can support your people into working better, more confidently, with more efficient tools and knowledge; and how those skills will positively affect your business outcomes. 

So, stage 1 of putting any training programme in place is identifying where those training pain points are in your business and your business' future. For example, many industries are “threatened” by automation, but how exactly is it manifesting in your sector? Engage with trends, research, training operators and your own network and identify where you should invest.

2) Connect training with career development

One of the more subtle but most effective features of a well-placed training programme is how well business leaders connect skills training to personal career development. 

It’s hardly news to most that career security has been somewhat affected by COVID-19, digital transformation and, now, a cost of living crisis and rising prices across the board. To guarantee full employee buy-in for any training or L&D system, bosses need to connect the dots between training programmes and career development and security. 

In short, make staff and skills training personal. Many training platforms provide certificates for their training modules that offer legitimacy and industry credibility, which are visual reminders of the benefits of training. Use this to your advantage.

3) Connect training to business outcomes

The flip side of training as a career development tool is, of course, the very tangible business-wide benefits of a well-trained, developed, competent team. 

Employees want to work with a company who are forward-thinking, well-invested in and eager to grow. Employee training is a very clear and obvious investment in company success, and how that success is tied to personnel growth. 

Again, connect the dots between L&D and outcomes from a business perspective, and you’ll see widespread advocacy from your people as they see the fruits of their growth on their employer. 

4) Make it “modular”

Modular learning empowers your people by “(facilitating) student learning by themselves”, in effect transforming learning and development from a classroom-based form of learning (which has been proven to be ineffective in helping adults develop new skills) into a new form of a flexible, self-motivated system of learning. 

Many workplace skills development partners have shifted their models to digital modular learning for good reason. They are easier to factor into a working regimen; they provide guidance and direction to professionals in your field without patronising them or re-teaching them things they already know and they’re ample sources of data and feedback for seniors to factor into staff assessments and feedback.

Above all else they empower your staff to learn on their initiative and at their own pace, providing engaging, self-directed teaching that helps them stay in control of development.

5) Make it measurable

For both your people and your business, measuring the outcomes of staff training is of paramount importance. 

Training and development is not a straight line, and development outcomes should never be cloned. We most certainly don’t advocate for a set series of KPIs for “trained” staff to hit, but we do recommend building bespoke development plans that take into account your post-training needs as well as your staff needs. 

This furthers the idea of empowerment and staff engagement by attaching training to tangible outcomes, furthering the idea that effective training makes an immediate impact on personal and business outcomes. So, when we say make it measurable, we mean to relate the training to positive outcomes, and give your staff a pathway to walk and put their new skills to good use!

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