With the ongoing skills shortage and a rapidly cooling labour market complicating the recruitment scene, it’s time HR looked within to fill knowledge and skills gaps.
Fortunately, with the increasing digitisation of the workplace, there are plenty of powerful tools to help with training and development. And since roughly 86% of employees cite job training as being important to them, getting it right could have clear benefits on staff happiness, too!
With the looming recession prompting workers to stay put, employers are already witnessing the effects of dwindling engagement. And as cases of quiet quitting begin to rise, it seems that disengaged employees are all the more willing to tough it out to retain job security – even if that means doing the bare minimum to keep their role.
Training and development opportunities, then, could be a key step in reigniting employee engagement and bringing disengaged staff out of a rut. What’s more, a turn towards upskilling internally – rather than seeking new faces to fill the gaps – will almost certainly help reign in recruitment costs as the economic climate evolves.
So, if you’re looking to get a firm handle on training in your organisation, where should you start?
Keep a finger on the pulse
When it comes to creating an effective training and development strategy, an important first step is to identify exactly where your organisation could improve. One approach to this would be gathering regular staff feedback, through means such as pulse surveys.
Apart from providing a broader overview of which departments need further training, quickfire pulse surveys can also help to identify which teams are most eager to dive into any development opportunities that may arise. After all, there’s little use in sending people on a course they won’t engage with!
Consider asking your employees’ thoughts on the following:
- I am well equipped to carry out my role.
- I feel supported to develop my professional skills in this organisation.
- I would welcome further training opportunities.
With a more focused understanding of employees’ attitudes towards training, HR and line managers can better plan activities that staff will both engage with and benefit from professionally.
Keep an eye on your competitors
In a tighter jobs market, the pool of potential employees is becoming smaller – and you could find that you’re competing more closely for talent with other companies in your industry. Thankfully, the age of the internet has made it easier than ever to keep an eye on what those around you are getting up to.
Has a competitor posted about their new staff training programme? Is an ex-employee leading a project at their new workplace? Keeping up with competitor activity when it comes to training and development can help to make informed decisions when it comes to your own.
Furthermore, whilst your exit interviews should of course offer some insight into the development opportunities your employees are after, employer review sites can also provide a valuable perspective. The low pressure – and, not insignificantly, anonymity – of sites like Glassdoor can uncover more honest insights into how you can match others in your industry.
Set S.M.A.R.T objectives
When it comes to development opportunities, setting specific, measurable objectives is key to making tangible progress. If employees aren’t sure what they’re working towards, it’s likely they’ll become demotivated or disengaged with training.
Performance Management Software can help HR and line managers to identify training needs, create personal development plans, and keep track of which training activities have been planned and delivered. It can smoothen up the process – particularly if you’re part of a larger organisation – and ensure any targets set are easily accessible both by management and the employee themselves.
Apart from being properly communicated, objectives discussed with employees should be S.M.A.R.T: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Getting specific with training targets will help to keep employees engaged and accountable throughout the learning process.
It’s important to note, too, that objectives shouldn’t focus on formal training alone – and line managers should be actively looking to identify upcoming development opportunities as they occur. Is there a new project an employee is keen get hands-on with, or a task in which they can take the lead? Nurturing existing interests can help cultivate a culture of learning within your organisation.
Ensure equal opportunities
Obviously, staff of all backgrounds should have access to professional development opportunities. It’s also vitally important that HR are aware of – and actively battling – the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace.
Apart from gathering much-important feedback on DEI practices, HR systems with built-in People Management Software can help with this. Integrated analytics tools allow HR to view lots of data at once, making it even easier to identify just how fairly training opportunities have been dealt out.
Beyond more broadly refining D&I strategy, HR should be careful to ensure the overall accessibility of training plans and courses. Online workshops, for example, may be convenient for many, but could put those who aren’t digital natives at a disadvantage. An off-site training day may appear fun and novel at a glance, but be ultimately undoable for parents working around the school run.
In taking the time to get familiar with employee demographics, HR can approach training with a more open mind; meaning more effective development opportunities for everybody.
Measure and refine your training strategy
When forming a training strategy, it’s important keep in mind that employee development is a long-term game – and one that needs to be monitored and refined over time.
When evaluating the success of your training and development activities, consider:
- Are staff still engaging with training, or have they become disinterested?
- Has training impacted employees’ confidence in their roles?
- Have training opportunities made a difference to the quality of work produced?
By checking in regularly with employees and line managers, and by opening up routes for honest feedback on initiatives, HR can develop an effective training strategy that develops alongside its participants.