2016, a year not without its challenges, it must be said. A year which demonstrated so clearly how quickly and fluidly our world now moves, and how clearly the challenges it brings us are laid out before us. The need to continually question our understanding of our place in this rapidly changing atmosphere has never been so clear.
As we come to the end of another year in business and look to the future, thoughts should be turning to what we expect of that future, with regard to our businesses. The year’s end brings endless opportunity, a clean and natural time to make changes and to plan developments. A breathing space to help us assess the year gone by and focus on fresh challenges for the coming 12 months.
At this time of year, all our thoughts, all our discussions around business naturally focus on productivity, how to build and enhance it, how to bring positive changes and move forward from the ground we’ve gained in the previous year, and how to find new ways to grow. To grow as individuals, professionally, personally, and of course, to grow as an organisation.
It is now that organisations begin to consider budgets for the coming year, where to invest, how, and importantly, why. We all know of the many hurdles to growth and better productivity. High staff turnover, low levels of employee engagement, absenteeism, the list goes on. For businesses facing such challenges, the need for training has never been so clear. Effective Learning and Development programmes deliver far more than just a sharing of knowledge or the ‘passing down’ of information. Many organisations will ask the question. Why? Why go to the length and expense of investing in training a workforce, only for them to move on and take their enhanced skills, their fresh knowledge with them. But this is exactly the point, and we should take care not to miss it.
The question may not be whether organisations can find room in their budgets for training, but rather, whether they can actually move forward, actually grow, without that training. Many companies, particularly SMEs, see an investment in training only in terms of cost, with the added worry that employees may take the knowledge gained with them when they move on. In reality, however, those employees would almost certainly be already disengaged. Gallup estimates that $300 million are lost each year because of actively disengaged workers, and that’s certainly a lot of disengagement.
Delivered and implemented well, employee training can turn these common worries on their head, bring clear change, and clear forward movement towards growth, enhanced productivity and profitability. Bringing the classroom into the workplace, making training integral to the work brings many more benefits to employers. Absenteeism is reduced and timekeeping improved as engagement is increased, with employees feeling involved, valued and enthused. There is greater opportunity for employers to recruit from within, which in turn reduces the costs and lengthy process of external recruitment. Organisations with a well targeted and integrated learning culture are better placed to embrace new technologies as they find themselves with a more enhanced skill set across the workforce. A well trained workforce also brings better customer relations, improved service and enhanced customer satisfaction.
So, we can easily recognise the many benefits to companies and organisations of all sizes, all of which feed into long term strategic objectives. However, there are also many benefits to employees who are encouraged to be regularly engaged in workplace based Learning and Development programmes. As well as gaining a greater understanding both of the business and their role within it, they benefit directly from greater knowledge and improved skills. They also will feel they have better chances at promotions and better salary prospects, if they are encouraged to learn as part of their working structure. Training can also lead to a strengthened team structure, with peers supporting each other, and driving one another forward.
Learning and development brings many benefits then to both employer and employee. Individual and personal development for employees, and, through these benefits, increased productivity and profitability to the organisation. Those hesitant, or even reluctant SMEs, those with smaller budgets, where cost is king and benefits need to return on investment quickly, may be seeing the words learning and development, and thinking of the good (?) old days of staff training. Those days of rooms of bored and disengaged colleagues sitting idly around a flip chart in a hotel conference suite, with one eye on the biscuits, and the other on the exit. Well, we’ve all been there, and let’s face it, none of us want to go back.
Thankfully, that model was then, and we are most definitely talking now. A whole new world of possibilities for learning has brought renewed interest, fresher ideas, bigger, brighter and better solutions. By harnessing the power of technology, we are able to find quicker, more cost effective methods of knowledge transfer. Through e-learning, we have the opportunity to enthuse colleagues in their learning, encourage them to strive towards targets, to build on and broaden their skill set. Platforms such as Wranx are all about enabling. Giving control of the training to business through data analysis, feedback and personalised learning, and making learning more enjoyable, easily accessed, and engaging for employees. A host of benefits designed to make the world of corporate Learning and Development more effective, productive and above all, easier to deliver.
And, no biscuits necessary, so it's healthier too!
There should always be room in the budget for training and development. And as John F. Kennedy never, ever said…
“Ask not what your employees can do for you, ask what you can do for your employees”