If I say the words ‘workplace training’ what are the first thoughts that come into your head…or the minds of your employees? I could hazard a guess that reactions might include anything from eye rolling, to celebrating a day away from the email inbox, or even rising panic about all the catching up that’ll be needed. Maybe there’s chance to get a free lunch or sit at the back of the room with a slightly glazed look in their eye? Not inspiring, is it?
As budgets get squeezed, training is often one of the first expenses to be scrutinised. In many businesses, the attitude towards training and learning can be apathetic, with some feeling that training is not the most effective way to spend much needed cash. Not every business feels this way, thankfully, but for those that do, this negativity spreads into every staffroom, kitchen and meeting room and blights motivation and employee satisfaction, which are vital to the lifeblood of workplaces today. This bad attitude is gradually and unknowingly drip fed to new staff too, perpetuating the damage and having a long-lasting effect on how employees feel about their development in the workplace and the company as a whole.
Here at Meetoo, we’re fighting the corner of workplace training as its been getting a bad reputation for far too long. With the right tools, policies and attitude, we KNOW training is not simply a necessity, it can be transformative. Here are our tips for offering training that employees want to attend and increasing your ROI:
Set expectations at interviews – When inviting prospective employees to interview, ask them what training they expect to receive to be able to do their job and what training they expect to be offered for development. If what you can offer and what they expect are poles apart, then they might not be the right candidate for you. Although it’s tempting to employ people who are ambitious, if you can’t fulfil their expectations then employing them could cost you in more ways than one. Keep a track of common training expectations to see if there are training courses that you should consider offering if you don’t already.
Mix it up – If you’re investing in workplace training, consider offering a mix of mandatory training (if applicable) and development based training. In the main, employees want to be offered development opportunities to increase their skills but be warned, if you spend money skilling up your workforce but don’t provide the opportunity for them to showcase these skills, this can lead to frustration. Keep development training relevant to the jobs your employees are currently doing to keep them progressing and motivated.
Get feedback – before investing in new training or culling existing programmes, ask your employees what they feel they need and why. You will never be able to please everyone and naturally you shouldn’t promise what you can’t deliver, but it can save you considerable cash if you only keep the programmes that people see value in and invest in new opportunities that really have potential.
Accountability – This is a great tip and helps with ROI. If you’re investing in a training programme, especially with courses that have been suggested by employees, you need to check whether these courses have been effective. Set and check objectives in employee appraisals to ensure that the training has been useful and is fit for purpose. This works both ways and employees should also be encouraged to use appraisals to ask about training opportunities.
Use budget as an excuse – These days it’s acceptable to expect that most businesses will have a training and development programme that is proportionate to their business size. Balancing business costs is a challenge but when budgets are tight, do your best not to cut corners on training. Although employees might not have access to budgets, they can see where investments and efforts are being made. Cutting back on training budget and spending elsewhere can send a message that a business doesn’t value development and employee satisfaction, which doesn’t breed loyalty or motivation.
Allow mandatory training to be boring – Just because a topic might be serious, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for it to be delivered in a dull and uninspiring way. Topics that involve health and safety as an example, need to be memorable to be successful. Including practical elements where trainees can learn by doing or using interactive tools like live polling with Meetoo where trainees can contribute, will really help to increase employee engagement and information retention, making the course more enjoyable and successful.
Be exclusive – Your training policy should be available to all employees and offer relevant opportunities for each area. We agree its farfetched for someone in customer service to expect their employer to pay for them to access graphic design training, more sensible to offer them access to or a donation towards professional qualifications. An alternative could also be to offer transferable skills courses such as assertiveness for dealing with tough situations or mindfulness for stress relief. It’s easy to focus on training opportunities for sales staff, so don’t forget to cater for support and admin focussed staff too.
Training is a big responsibility and it’s not cheap, so it needs a well thought out strategy and evaluation process. Some employers argue, “Why should I spend money and train people, only for them to up and leave?” It’s a hard fact of life being an employer, that people who want to leave their jobs will find a way. In our view, training staff up won’t prompt them to leave, but not offering training and development opportunities will certainly push them to look for employment elsewhere. With the trend for so-called Boomerang employees on the rise, investing in your employees with a smart training strategy is worth every penny.
For more tips download our guide 5 Practical Ways to Improve your Training Sessions.
Sophie Thomas is the Marketing Automation Manager for Meetoo. A self-confessed gadget queen and social media geek, she loves tech and has an app for everything.
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