It is a well-worn cliche that an organisation’s most valuable asset is its employees. It is easy to make the conclusion that this means employee retention is the be all and end all, and businesses need to do everything they can to prevent employees from wanting to leave, but this misses the point.
A degree of churn is both inevitable and desirable. Some move on, others retire, and some are simply not a great fit. The trick is to identify those individuals who can make a real difference to the organisation and to whom the organisation can make a real difference, and have the right internal practices in place to retain and develop them.
These two words are used advisedly, and they can have an almost symbiotic relationship. The theory is that if businesses develop staff, they will remain, and if they remain, they will develop. Effective training processes play an integral role in making this work.
Develop and motivate staff
Having the right training processes in place fulfils two purposes. On the one hand, it gives employees the knowledge and skills to carry out their roles more effectively. On the other, it sends out a sign that the employer has belief in the employee and is prepared to invest in developing him or her. That is a strong motivating factor – when we get down to the nuts and bolts of it, every one of us like to be appreciated, and it will lead to a more engaged and loyal workforce.
When an employee feels that his professional growth and development is linked with that of the employing organisation, it is a powerful and positive thing.
Good for employers and employees
Training personnel is not all about “leveraging resources,” however. We all know that even if you work for the best employer in the world, the odds are against you staying there until retirement. The average UK worker changes jobs every three years and has seven career changes. Sometimes this is through choice and sometimes necessity, but the point is, the phrase “lifer” is applied more often to the prison system than it is to the world of work in the 21st century.
Training and development is core to keeping momentum and staying relevant in these changing circumstances, and in the face of fast-moving technological evolution.
Internal and external training
The most effective employee development programmes offer a blend of internal and external training, and both have their benefits. Some see external training as a “cookie cutter” approach, but the point is that given the circumstances we described above, it might be counter-productive to be too bespoke. The transferrable skills offered by The Knowledge Academy can put employees in a prime position, while at the same time adding value for employers.
Internal training gives the opportunity for employees to acquire more specialised and tailored knowledge that they can apply directly to their day-to-day work. Gaining this kind of expertise is invaluable for taking that next step up the career ladder and being promoted within the organisation.
Learning every day
Ideally, the best employees will be constantly learning more about their role and how it fits into the bigger picture of how the organisation meets its strategic goals, while they are going about their daily work. However, we all know it is easy to get bogged down in the minutiae.
There are simple ways to ensure employees develop in even the most hectic work environment, such as by asking them to participate in more senior strategic management meetings, inviting their opinions and contributions on strategic planning, and increasing their management or supervisory responsibilities.
Mentoring and training the trainer
This final point brings us to the topic of mentoring. Internal training does not just benefit the recipient. A critical aspect of growing, both as an individual and as a valuable company resource, is by developing the ability to transfer knowledge and skill within the organisation. In other words, the act of delivering internal training can be as important a part of career development as the act of receiving it.
Teaching best practice to others is also a fantastic way to reinforce those practices within the actions and habits of the trainer, but the benefits do not stop there. Internal mentoring builds relationships and strengthens the team dynamics within the organisation.
Invest in training to reap the rewards
A coherent training and development strategy helps a company to get the most from its best people, reduces staff turnover and motivates the workforce, leading to a better working environment for all. It also provides individuals with the skillsets to develop their careers, whether it is within the organisation or elsewhere. It really is a win/win for all concerned.