Training And Developing Employees: Why And How To Do It

August 18, 2020
June 26, 2023
Employee Onboarding

When you make the decision to invest in employee training and development, you’re setting yourself up for a win-win situation. One where employee and business grow in harmony, progressing towards personal and organisational goals all at once.

The issue is that a lot of companies aren’t convinced by the need for training beyond the onboarding process, it’s why articles like this exist!

Our two-pronged approach to convincing you otherwise? Bust the myths around training and highlight the advantages of developing your employees.

Busting the employee training and development myths

  • Employees lose too much office time by attending training courses
  • Developing employees costs too much
  • Time spent learning could delay deadlines and affects productivity
  • People will learn a new skill and then use it to move companies

The first two points can be slightly undone by common sense. If you send an employee on a four-month course that’s twice your learning budget, you’ll almost certainly have those opinions.

But the real myth is that you need to adopt this traditional approach in order to develop your people. We’re living in the age of intuitive learning platforms, which create on-demand access to courses and resources while helping you manage your development budget better.

The deadline and productivity issue is a case of whether you’re taking a short or long-term view to employee training and development. You might have to push a project back slightly now, but you’re giving employees skills that will make them exponentially more productive in the long run.

Just imagine how great the next project will be!

Lastly, presuming people will gain new skills and then use them to move onto a new role is quite a negative take but not completely unfounded. However, as you’ll see in the advantages section, employee development has an incredibly positive impact on motivation, engagement and retention.

The advantages of training and developing employees

First things first, there's a common thread we can follow through these benefits of employee training and development. And it's that they all link back to driving performance and solving organisational performance! Life is too short to learn things that don't matter!

And at the rate the world is changing, we can't be learning as a tick-box exercise just to say we've done it.

So, any employee development, training program or learning initiative has to be connected to impact and either making people better at their job or setting them up to progress the business towards its goals.

Otherwise, people's skills are at risk of becoming outdated and your company is at risk of falling behind - that's the power of employee training!

Making people better at their jobs is better for you

Even if we consider existing skills alone, helping your employees develop those will empower them to perform their role better.

Regardless of the position they’re in, that will have an impact on the quality of your products, services and customer experience.

But what about the skills and talents that are currently missing in your teams?

Close skill gaps and build upon weaknesses/opportunities

When you’re lacking the in-demand skills your business needs to remain competitive, that’s known as a skill gap.

One of the most effective ways to plug it is by investing in your current employees and giving them the resources to develop that trait or talent.

That all starts with mapping the skills you have, measuring the proficiency and comparing that to the skills you need to reach goals. If you know that, you're able to deliver employee training and learning pathways that close the gaps.

You might be asking: why not just hire to fill those gaps?

Looking outside your organisation doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll find those skills and, if you do, those people would take time to get up to speed. That would also result in recruitment costs and an additional salary.Similarly, when someone needs to build their proficiency or has the characteristics suited to taking on a new role or responsibility, you should capitalise on those weak spots or opportunities.

That way, you’ll create more well-rounded people and teams.It's simply not sustainable to bring into new talent every time you're lacking a skill either. Buying or borrowing talent eats into even the biggest budgets, but building skills in the people we've already got in our teams costs comparatively far less.

And this is often a great way to pitch the value of employee training and development programs internally. Whether it's the hiring costs associated with bringing in more talent or the productivity lost as new employees get to understand our product and company, constantly hiring hits our bottom line in many different ways.

Improve motivation, morale and engagement through employee training and development

When a company is willing to invest in your training and development, this translates into feelings of worth, belonging and value for a lot of employees. It can be a signal that they recognise your contribution, potential and role in the future of the organisation.

However, a SHRM study revealed that only 29% of employees are ‘very satisfied’ with the development opportunities at their organisation and 41% view it as an integral part of job satisfaction. So, not only is it important in ensuring your employees are satisfied, it could make your company a more attractive proposition to any potential hires.

Retain talent and save on the costs of hiring

If you’re not progressing, then what’s the point in sticking around? That’s the view most people take, with 94% of employees stating they’d stay longer if a company invested in their career development. Employee Benefits News also named employee training and career development as the number one causes of employee turnover (22%) and revealed that it costs as much as 33% of a worker’s annual salary to replace them.

So, not only are you disengaging employees and causing a loss of productivity, you’re driving them to find a new role and accruing the costs of lost knowledge and hiring replacements that come with it. Good people are more likely to stick around AND remain good people if we're opening employee training and development opportunities and budgets to them!

Develop new leaders in your organisation

Training people doesn’t necessarily just have to relate to the role they’re in now, you can use it to progress them into new roles or teach them the leadership skills that make them a driving force in your business. By promoting and upskilling existing employees into leadership roles, you’re creating paths to progression and ensuring those in higher positions have a greater understanding of your values and what the company’s all about.

New knowledge can be acquired and shared

When people learn a new skill, it’s important that they don’t become a silo for that information. That’s why it’s wise to encourage a knowledge-sharing culture and consider using a learning platform in your development strategy.

For example, if somebody takes a course in closing sales deals and it has a positive effect on their numbers, they should at least be able to share the key takeaways and tips with the rest of their team, right? They just need a platform that allows them to do so. In HowNow, employees can add Nuggets that contain their insights and share those with colleagues, who use the platform to find it when they need it. Magic! And you can learn more about how you can tap into and share internal wisdom here.

So, what does a good plan for training and developing employees need?

By our count, there are three key things you HAVE to do, to deliver employee training that develops the skills and knowledge to perform better.

1. An understanding of your audience

The first hurdle is engagement. If people aren't engaging with your employee training offer, it's game over.

And the reason most people don't engage is because they're not getting relevant content.

People want knowledge and information that's going to make them better at their job. And to do that effectively, we have to know the problems they're facing, the blockers to solving them and what their motivation is for wanting to learn.

This is training program 101: understanding your internal customers is not optional.

2. Clarity on the organisational and team goals.

Time for another healthy serving of context: what is the organisation trying to achieve and how can you support it.

A training program that ignores this is a training program set up to fail.

You need buy-in for effective learning and development! 

Getting it is harder when you can't show people value - it's not rocket science, but you'll crash and burn if you don't include this in your employee development plans.

3. Engaging content, the kind that solves problems fast.

Engaging content doesn't mean you've got fun little games and lots of interactive content.

It's a question of whether the content engages the learner.

And if you've hidden the one thing they need to know from your training in an absolute mountain of waffle, kiss goodbye to engagement.

Think about where someone is when they're using that content and bake that context in.

If someone needs to explain product features on a call, a 50-page PDF detailing every feature adds friction.

If you create 50 separate cheat sheets, with just the relevant information and names that make them easy to find, you influence performance.

And influencing performance helps you tick every box: engagement, buy-in and value.

Check out our other people development resources

Whether you want to deliver more effective employee training and development programs or are hoping to hone the key skills a people development pro needs, these'll help get you there!