Why every employer should have a plan for employee training and development

Jessica Ford, Vice President of Operations, Ashton Staffing

In today’s economy, it’s natural for employers to be more focused on cutting back than on adding to the budget. But there are certain areas of the business that are always going to require investment.

Perhaps the primary place that employers should always be striving to improve is human capital. Businesses cannot afford to lose their best employees to competitors that offer better opportunities for career advancement, and keeping employees sharp will only improve a business’s competitive position.

“The reward definitely outweighs the cost,” says Jessica Ford, vice president of operations at Ashton Staffing. “You do not have to start out with guns blazing, offering paid college tuitions. Look at your budget and tailor your training plan around it.”

Smart Business spoke to Ford about making sure your business is preparing employees to meet challenges in today’s tough market.

In today’s competitive market, why is employee training and career development important?

The importance of training your employees — both new and experienced — cannot be overemphasized. Effective training of new employees reduces turnover because employees will have a positive feeling about the company, and it saves them time with getting initiated into their job.

But employee training doesn’t end with new workers. Manager training and development is equally important to workplace safety, productivity and satisfaction. Among the most useful skills that can be addressed are manager communication, employee motivation and employee recognition.

A continued education program for experienced workers based on their job duties helps to alleviate sloppy, inefficient and even unsafe work habits.

Why do some employers hesitate to put any formal training or employee development in place?

Employee training is essential for an organization’s success. Despite the importance of training, many companies initially encounter resistance from both employees and managers. Both groups may claim that training is taking them away from their work.

Given the current economic climate, some employers are also hesitant to allocate the necessary funds to train their employees.

What kinds of offerings should employers make available to employees?

Start slow. Companies do not have to roll out an elaborate training plan in the beginning. This will de-motivate some staff and also overwhelm them. Look at each position in your company and where each could improve. Choose the job class that is most effecting your bottom line and that is where you begin.  Initially the training will need to be required in order to get everyone on the same page.

Training is available in many ways, the most popular being online training, particularly for management. A great investment is a company trainer. They will research your company’s situation thoroughly before developing a customized training plan by using many different resources to determine your company’s training needs, such as company goals, HR complaints and legal obligations.

Many standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explicitly require employers to train employees in the safety and health aspects of their jobs. Other OSHA standards make it the employer’s responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are ‘certified,’ ‘competent,’ or ‘qualified’ — meaning that they have had special previous training, in or out of the workplace. These requirements reflect OSHA’s belief that training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.

From an HR perspective, a growing number of states are requiring workplace harassment training for employees, specifically requiring employee sexual harassment training. This is yet another example of the importance of employee training.

What are the cost implications?

If you choose to start small and train for specific results, many online training sites will provide you a bulk discount. A growing number of employers are turning to online employee training for a hands-on, interactive way for employees to learn. More economical in both time and money than conventional training, this form of training has become more and more popular as Internet technology has improved.

How can employers make sure they are making the most of training in the workplace?

You must have employee buy in for any program to be successful. Make the training fun when you can. Offer pay increases to those who have successfully completed the training and make sure to mention their accomplishment during their annual review. As employees complete their training, offer certificates and make sure to congratulate them. When possible, send out an e-mail blast to the company as a whole or display the graduates’ pictures holding their certificated in a break room.

A successful training program is always a work in progress, and the training cycle isn’t complete without an evaluation of training’s effectiveness, which leads to decision-making and planning for future training.

Jessica Ford is vice president of operations at Ashton Staffing. Reach her at (770) 419-1776 or [email protected]