Employee training and development: a guide for HR managers

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Employee training and development offers a company’s human capital the chance to cultivate their skills and improve their performance, with both current and future roles in mind. The upshot is increased productivity, motivation, and without a doubt, a boost for results.

So, how do you create a training plan for your company? Here we explain what is involved, the benefits and types available, plus a step-by-step guide to building a program.

What is staff training?

Staff training aims to enhance the skills and knowledge an employee needs to become more efficient in their current role or aspire to a more senior position. In other words, to encourage learning and development.

Idalberto Chiavenato, the renowned Human Resources Management expert and multi-published author, defines training, as this study explains, as “a means that develops the skills of people so that they can be more productive, creative and innovative, so that they contribute better to organizational objectives and become increasingly valuable. Thus, training is a useful source, because it allows people to effectively contribute to the results of the business,”

John P Wilson, meanwhile, in Human Resource Development, cites the example of the Manpower Services Commission’s Glossary of Training Terms, which defines training 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. Its purpose, in the work situation, is to develop the abilities of the individual and to satisfy the current and future needs of the organisation.”
learning and development cta
Wilson also points to the definition from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, which describes it as “an activity or programme of activities designed to teach the skills and knowledge required for particular kinds of work”.

Staff training is also sometimes referred to as reskilling and upskilling. The former involves training an employee so they can take on a different role within the organisation, while the latter, upskilling, aims to teach an employee new skills to optimise their performance. The benefits of reskilling and upskilling are akin to the advantages of training generally.

How has company training changed?

changes in employee training
The last 30 years have seen sweeping change in the field of human resources. The HR manager, once a staff trainer, is now a learning facilitator.  And the employee, formerly a simple resource, has been reborn as a multifaceted company asset.

This change originated in the 80s and 90s with the emerging trend towards the “learning organisation”.  As development and training climbed the list of budget priorities, classrooms began to fill with workforces eager to stay up to date with the skills and knowledge required to secure their organisations’ success.

At that time, employee training needs were stored in a humble database, which listed the requirements of each position within the organisation. A world away from the sophisticated programs we have today.

However, technological advances gradually accelerated the process. First came multimedia CDs and archives. And a few years later, the internet landed, and online training eventually made its debut. Training suddenly became widely accessible and affordable. HR managers could even create courses themselves on videos stored in the cloud. On top of this, online training platforms arrived on the scene, placing expert knowledge at everyone’s fingertips.

These developments triggered a change of mindset within companies towards continuous and personalised training. Each employee is constantly evolving and has the tools at their disposal to improve and grow professionally in line with their individual requirements.

The importance of employee training and development

Training is a key element of a company’s organisational culture, chiefly due to the rapidly changing nature of the markets. Something that works today might be completely obsolete tomorrow. Establishing continuous training processes therefore helps staff stay on the ball and adapt quickly to developments as they arise.

The importance of employee training is also closely tied to motivation. We all want to feel like we are doing our job well and that our bosses appreciate our efforts. Training incentives linked to development goals are therefore often very well-received by employees.

We have also seen, as this Linkedin study shows, that training addresses manifold personnel needs, so developing an internal training program is now seen as indispensable. A company that invests in its people is not only more respected by its employees, but also by outside talent.

This is also the case with career plans. These are individual training schemes for each employee, focused on preparing them to climb the career ladder. Developing a company career plan motivates employees to grow and makes them feel more valued.

This goes hand in hand with the company's internal promotion plan, which sets out a series of milestones for an employee to reach in order to advance within the company.

This training, career plan and internal promotion triangle gives employees a clear view of their path through the company and the steps they need to take at each stage to achieve their goals.
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The benefits of providing employee training

There are many different methods for implementing a company staff training program. But whichever one you choose, you can be confident of substantial benefits.

Employee benefits

Employee benefit highlights include:
1
Increased employee satisfaction and motivation: investing in training generates a sense of support and confidence, resulting in a content and motivated workforce.
2
A personalised analysis for each employee: the training needs analysis gives employees a clear picture of their current level and identifies their strong points and areas for improvement.
3
It offers the whole workforce the opportunity to learn: training is also a means to ensure equal opportunities within the company. Experience is important, but so is gaining new expertise and being au fait with the latest sector developments. Some employees join the company on apprenticeships to acquire new skills and, in time, end up staying with the company.
4
Preparing workers to assume new responsibilities: training programs also help employees to evolve and apply for more senior positions in the company. They gain the abilities required to take on new responsibilities.
5
Show employees that they are valued: employees who take part in these programs feel valued and invested in by the company. Improving their skills not only makes them better workers, but also makes them feel more integrated with the team and engaged.

Company benefits

On the other hand, training helps companies:
1
Improve employee output: an employee who receives training tailored to their needs will be able to do their job more effectively, and therefore achieve better results.
2
Increase productivity and compliance with standards: companies usually see an increase in productivity when they invest in training. Improved process efficiency guarantees a project’s success, and in turn increases its profitability.
3
Increase innovation in new strategies: continuous training, developing new skills and consolidating staff expertise often directly results in innovative thinking across all business areas.
4
Reduce employee turnover: training makes employees feel valued, which boosts their engagement and simultaneously reduces the chance of them being swayed by a competitor’s offering.
5
Improve the corporate image: a solid and successful training strategy enhances the employer’s brand image. This makes it more appealing to future candidates, making it easier to attract talent.

The main goals of company training

Staff training must be targeted at a series of goals, just like any other business activity:

Types of employee training

There are different types of employee training, which we will look at in two groups:

Training methods

When we refer to methods, we are talking about the channel or medium through which the training is delivered. In this case, there are three different types:
different types of employee training

Funding options

There are a number of financial incentives for companies to invest in employee training, which can largely be divided into two groups:

How much do companies invest in training?

Employee training and development budgets are extensive. They usually include all the program costs (content, materials, operation costs), as well as the labour cost to cover the hours employees spend attending the course. Usually, we also include other expenses such as the program design and build and tech requirements.

With this in mind, how much do companies spend on employee courses and training? According to this article, American companies allocate $7,420 per year per employee. However, these figures vary depending on the size of the company and the employee’s specific job function.

A budget analysis study carried out by the Brandon Hall Group found that the larger the organisation, the smaller the spend per employee. So larger organisations spend $780 less than medium-sized companies and $1,776 less than small ones.

It also observed that experience and seniority impact on training spend.  High-level and mid-level employees received an equivalent of $9,427 annually in training, while mid-level workers received $9,036.

This graph explains the differences:
evolution of individual expenditure on training
Source: Brandon Hall Group

The most popular training areas

The Coassemble website (see link above) also lists the most popular types of training, and therefore, where organisations are spending the most money.

Budgets are split as follows:
description of the most popular training areas
Source: Brandon Hall Group

The 4 stages of the training process

According to L. van Gelder and colleagues, the authors of “Didactic Analysis”, there is a learning method called the “Pedagogical Analysis”. This first step in this model is to define the starting point and current expertise, from which learning objectives are then established. This information then guides the training topics, learning methods and activities. The eventual results are monitored and evaluated and, depending on the results achieved, the objectives will be reviewed again.
stages of the training process
So, using this model as a basis, we can identity four stages of the training process:

1. Training needs analysis

The first stage involves setting out the starting position, analysing the employee’s current skills and recording any training needs identified. In this way, we ensure employees are acquiring new skills and abilities that will be useful for their current role or a future position.

The training goals are usually related to the business objectives. So, reviewing the business strategy and goals at this stage is standard practice.

2. Setting learning goals

The next step is to convert the training needs into learning goals. A training goal should be three things:
In this way, the goals help design an effective training program targeted at improving workers’ skills.

3. Method choice and content design

It is time to make a decision about the training topics, teaching methods and activities that will take place. This is normally done by an external provider or trainer, and ideally with the student’s participation.

At this stage we usually also decide on the training techniques, learning pace, the training location and many other important factors.

4. Monitoring and training

The last phase of the learning process is follow-up and evaluation. This is when we analyse the learning objectives in relation to the results achieved to measure the training’s effectiveness. It can also be a good time to measure the training ROI; that is, the financial return generated.

The link between performance reviews and training

The link between performance reviews and career plans or training is evident when we understand how they depend on each other. The performance review is an essential step to determine an employee’s starting position, identify their strong points and areas for improvement and, finally, establish training needs.

With this information we can design a personalised, and therefore effective, career or training plan. If, on the other hand, we don’t know which areas need improvement, the training will not have the same effect.

So, performance reviews should always comprise the first step of any plan related to an employee’s professional development. This process will give us the information we need to proceed with confidence.

The steps to building a training plan

A training plan contains the set of actions designed to enhance an employees’ expertise and abilities. They are usually devised, as we have seen, on the basis of performance reviews to personalise the training proposal as much as possible.
steps to create a training plan
How do you develop a company training plan? Here is our step-by-step guide:

1. Identify company needs

A training plan contains the set of actions designed to enhance an employees’ expertise and abilities. They are usually devised, as we have seen, on the basis of performance reviews to personalise the training proposal as much as possible.

2. Set the program goals

Try to align training goals with company objectives and set clear targets. This step is crucial if we want to evaluate how effective courses have been at a later date.

3. Involve the employees

If the team is part of the concept and planning process it is much more likely to be motivated by the training, which will boost the chances of success.

4. Create useful, personalised and appealing experiences

Design attractive and personalised training experiences by using new learning methods like gamification. This will help get your employees more involved in the process.

5. Plan the training

The planning stage involves elements such as who will deliver the training, where will it take place, how long will it take, etc. Make sure the logistical side is all wrapped up.

6. Take control of the results

Finally: how do you evaluate a training plan? Analyse the training results in relation to the goals set at the start. This will help to introduce modifications in the training plan to encourage continuous improvement.

New trends in employee training

In the changing world in which we live, learning and professional development strategies are constantly evolving. Companies are beginning to abandon the outdated idea of fixed courses for the whole workforce in favour or personalised, dynamic and online training.

We have identified the following current trends in the field of employee training:
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