How to Create an Effective Employee Training and Development Program

A productive, capable and engaged workforce is your recipe for success. It protects your business from losing talent, contributes to a strong employer brand, and allows you to stay competitive. Fundamental to accomplishing this is an effective employee training and development program. A program that ensures the ongoing learning and skills development of your people and considers the following six key elements.

1. An end in sight

At the heart of any program is planning. Ask yourself What are we trying to achieve?A business plan will assist to answer this question. Do you need to focus on how you operate — productivity and quality — or to realize your future aspirations?

Your end game may evolve over your business lifecycle. To be effective, your program needs to have a clear goal in sight that supports the achievement of your business objectives and provides a return on investment!

2. Skills gap analysis

Once your business plan is clear, you can then turn your attention to understanding the skills and knowledge base of your workforce.

A performance management system will assist with defining, assessing, and identifying the gaps across your workforce. The output is the insight into what you need. It could be to develop the skills of the future, expand the knowledge base of your employees i.e. upskill. Or establish a consistent skill and knowledge base for your employees. It may even be all of the above!

3. The nuts and bolts – the program itself

Where you don’t have in-house experts, consider outsourcing to a third party to assist with developing the plan. Prior to jumping in, set a budget that works for you.

The plan should include specific learning objectives that are aligned with your skills gap analysis. It should also outline how the program will be implemented.e. classroom-based (on-site or off-site), online learning, or individual or group learning.

Look at programs outside of the traditional concept that at times may be costly and not always suitable e.g. on-the-job training, pairing employees with more seasoned employees, mentoring, and collaboration initiatives (i.e. project-based work, working groups).

Take the time to consider what works for your people and how they do their best when they participate rather than just turning up. Different learning styles — visual, auditory, read/write, and by doing — and when time is set aside to participate, who runs them, and post-learning support. The logistics can make or break a program so don’t underestimate its importance.

4. Testing, testing 1,2,3

It is recommended that before launching a program, start with a pilot session. Whilst you may want to throw open the doors, a pilot session allows you to critique what worked well and what needs refinement. Involve participants who will provide constructive feedback so you can sort out the bugs before the big launch.

5. Gaining support

For any program to be successful, you need support from your business leaders. Your employees watch what they do and draw conclusions, they will set the tone for the success of your program.

Ensure your leaders are involved in the process, not just informed the day before launch day. You want leaders who are able to participate, drive and promote the program. Leaders who factor employee training and development as a daily task in their workday.

Likewise, you want to create a culture where your employees are self-motivated and proactive to drive their own development. When promoting the program, send the message that they play a role, they are in charge of their destiny.

6. Measure the effectiveness

Measuring the effectiveness of your program is an important step. You want a return on your investment, you want engaged and productive employees — not a box-ticking exercise.

A feedback system is where you measure the success of the learning experience for the participant. Are your employees feeling more capable? Did they understand the learning objectives and how they intend to use the new skill?

Measure the impact on business operations through employee performance. Your business results –has productivity, employee satisfaction, or staff turnover changed in the way you had expected?

Turn to your leaders — are they seeing the expected changes or improvement in skills and knowledge in the employee’s daily tasks? Your performance management system will assist with this assessment.

Whatever your approach, be open to constructive feedback and agile enough to make the required improvements so your program makes an impact, the right one.

How does it benefit your business?

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from creating a culture that values continuous development. At LMHR we provide support to small and medium businesses to create their employee training and development programs. We do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on running the show. Contact us today.

*Originally published on Medium.