Are you still unsure about the benefits of employee training? Maybe you’re not convinced it is really worth the effort. Or perhaps you don’t know if training will have an impact in your company. In this article, we explain everything you need to know about staff training: what it is, why it’s important, the advantages it offers and which training methods you should choose.
What is employee training?
Staff training can be defined as a process that enables the growth of an organisation’s employees, through the acquisition and improvement of the necessary abilities.
There are numerous definitions of training, as observed by John P Wilson, in Human Resource Development. He cites one example, which defines it as “a planned process to modify attitude, knowledge or skill behaviour through learning experience to achieve effective performance in an activity or range of activities.” Another describes it as “an activity or programme of activities designed to teach the skills and knowledge required for particular kinds of work”.
While definitions vary slightly from each other, they all agree that the company stands to benefit just as much as the employee from training when it is done right.
Why is staff training important for companies?
The professional talent that makes up a company is an extremely important asset, but it can easily become obsolete, given the highly changeable world in which we live. Companies must invest in job training plans to ensure their employees are familiar with the latest developments in their sector. The goal is to keep their skills and abilities up to date.
Although training was not as popular (or as necessary) a few years ago as it is today, some companies did invest in training, albeit with a different approach. In general, it involved all employees in the company completing the same course on a certain topic.
These days, however, the key is personalisation and specialisation. An individual will receive one type of training or another, depending on the work they carry out and their specific needs.
There is also the emotional factor. It has been shown that employee training and development is fundamental to motivating and incentivising the staff team.
Finally, a highly-skilled company workforce contributes to business results and helps to differentiate them from the competition. The more prepared employees are, the better their productivity levels and product or service quality will be.
The main advantages of offering training for employees
Regular and continuous employee training translates into substantial medium- and long-term benefits. Some of the most relevant include:
1. Making it easier to recruit internal talent
Employee training can encourage internal staff recruitment. If we can create medium-term plans that incorporate training focused on team growth and development, we can promote employees who are already part of the company.
Normally companies resort to external talent, but internal selection processes are less costly, shorter, and also generate a positive work environment in which the current workforce feels valued.
2. Retaining talent and improving employee wellbeing
Training programs have a positive effect on workers. They feel like the company cares about their professional development and is giving them the tools they need. This improves their motivation and, of course, their engagement, which encourages them to remain in the workforce for longer.
3. Improved staff productivity
Training aims to strengthen an employee’s weak points. So, in time, they find it easier to carry out their tasks and can work more quickly. This results in a general increase in productivity.
4. Financial benefits
Don’t forget there are government grants available for staff training, meaning the company can acquire courses practically free of charge or receive tax relief. This is known as subsidised training.
Employee training methods
If you are already sold on the benefits of investing in employee training and development, you now need to decide how you want to do it.
Internal company training
Internal training happens in the workplace. It often relates to the work the employee currently carries out, with the goal of acquiring new knowledge or abilities. Internal training programs normally use teaching materials which are then put into practice.
There is also the option of rotating company roles to give employees access to different areas of the business to learn how they work. This is especially helpful for cultivating teamwork and cooperation.
External company training
Finally, there is the option of training employees outside the company. These courses can be delivered online or at training centres and are usually provided by third parties. In this case, the company contracts an external provider so their employees can bring new knowledge into the workplace.
If you decide on this model, make sure you look at the options offered by online training platforms, such as Trailhead, Think with Google and Udemy, where you will find a multitude of courses on a wide range of topics.
Types of employee training
There are a number of different types of training. To give you some inspiration, here are some of the most interesting:
We could describe this as traditional training: a teacher in a classroom presents a subject to their students, or in this case, the company's employees. It is a very efficient method, especially for complex topics, but it is more costly.
Online training or eLearning takes place via the internet and online videos. Employees have the flexibility to choose when and where they want to complete the course. This method has become more popular recently as it can be easily adapted to the company’s requirements and is also cheaper.
Simulators give employees the opportunity to learn via virtual reality devices. This method is very useful and effective in high-risk sectors. It is common, for example, in pilot training.
Coaching and mentoring
Coaching and mentoring involve pairing up an employee with a more experienced professional, who transfers their knowledge to the other. This set up allows the student to ask any questions they may have, receive advice, and learn from the other. It can also be carried out in person or online.
This model groups together different professionals who have similar needs so they can learn together. Through debates and activities, usually guided by a supervisor, they are able to gain the knowledge or skills required.
Finally, some topics can be learnt from reading. Studies, reports and manuals can supply enough information to resolve queries or real problems. Employees can read them at their own pace and when they prefer.
4 tips for improving your employee training
To ensure your employee training plan has the desired effect in your company, it is worth paying attention to these tips.
1. Identify employee training needs
The best training always adapts to the needs of the employee; that is, it strengthens their weak points or helps them progress within the company.
For example, if the company is expanding overseas, it may be useful for your employees to take language classes so they can communicate better with their new colleagues.
Dedicate time and resources to identifying employee training needs to glean the necessary information.
2. Analyse your employees’ current level
Do you know what training the employee has done in the past? Which areas have they specialised in? These are the questions the Human Resources department should be asking employees to adapt training plans to their level.
This task can be carried out very simply with specialised software.
3. Choose an appropriate location
For internal training sessions, we need to make sure we have a suitable training space. The classroom should be large enough, with the necessary facilities and technological equipment (computer, screen, speakers, internet connection etc).
4. Use appealing training methods
For training to be a success, it’s best to look for methods the employees will find attractive and interesting. Gamification, for example, is all the rage. The student plays an active role, and the learning process is much more painless. It is something to bear in mind when designing a training plan for your employees.