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The importance of employee training and development programs

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Employees want a career with a future; employers want loyal and skilled team members. When employers understand the importance of robust employee training and development programs, both employees and employers get what they want.

Employees Want Training and Development Opportunities

A survey from the American Staffing Association found that 80 percent of employed U.S. adults consider an employer’s professional development and training offerings to be important when deciding whether or not to accept a job. Millennials are especially eager for professional development and training, with 84 percent saying this is important, while 70 percent of Gen Zers say the same.

No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job. Employees can go back to school to learn new skills, but formal education is expensive and can be difficult to balance with work. Therefore, learning new skills on the job through a workplace training program is often an ideal way to keep growing. Unfortunately, many employers appear to be dropping the ball when it comes to pretraining and development efforts. In the American Staffing Association survey, only 39 percent of employed U.S. adults said their current employer was helping them improve their current skills or gain new ones.

Employers Need Skilled Workers

If someone talked about being a prompt engineer back in early 2022, you might have had no idea what this job entailed. But, in 2023, Time Magazine says prompt engineers – people who write effective prompts for generative AI tools – can earn up to $335,000.

Employers often like to find workers with significant experience, but you’re unlikely to find someone with years of experience as a prompt engineer given the newness of these AI programs. Technology is changing fast, which means workers need brand-new skills. If employers can’t find workers with these skills, they’ll need to focus on training current employees.

According to Gartner HR Research, the number of skills people need to do their jobs effectively has been increasing by 10 percent each year since 2017. Already, 58 percent of workers need to acquire new skills to do their jobs successfully. As in-demand skills change and evolve, training and development programs will become increasingly important.

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The Benefits of Offering Employee Development and Training Programs

If employers are still on the fence about investing in employee training and development programs, the following advantages might sway them:

  • Employee development programs can increase productivity. If you want your workers to accomplish more, you might have to train them. For example, you might want your workers to use tools like ChatGPT to boost their efficiency, but your workers might not know how to use new technologies effectively. With training, they can become more productive.
  • Employee development programs could boost retention. Employee turnover is expensive. Even when a worker already possesses the skills needed for the job, the hiring and recruitment process eats up time and money. According to SHRM, the average cost per hire is about $4,700, but the total costs can be much greater – up to three to four times the worker’s annual salary. With this in mind, it makes financial sense to try to retain your current employees for as long as possible. An employee training program could boost job satisfaction and retention – according to LinkedIn, companies where employees learn skills on the job have a three-year retention rate that’s seven percent higher than companies that don’t prioritize on-the-job skill development.
  • Employers can train workers the way they prefer. When you hire a worker who has learned skills elsewhere, you might expect to have an employee who’s ready to dive into action on the first day. However, every company is run differently. Your employees don’t just need to know general skills – they need to know how things work at your company. While strong onboarding programs may help new hires, if you oversee growth and development opportunities directly, you can ensure workers are learning how to do things the way your organization prefers.
  • Employers can develop talent. Employers sometimes receive criticism for creating job ads with excessive demands. The more you demand in terms of skills and experience, the harder it will be to find job candidates who meet your requirements. This means you’ll have a smaller pool to choose from and may get stuck with a worker who doesn’t fit your company culture. Then, you’ll be back to the drawing board – and that’s assuming anyone who answers your job ad in the first place possesses all of your desired qualities. If you want a perfect worker, you might have to start with someone who has potential instead.
  • Employers can promote from within. There’s a big debate among business leaders over whether it’s better to promote from within or to hire an outsider. However, the average employee almost certainly prefers it when companies promote from within, as that gives them a better chance of gaining a promotion. Employers who embrace internal promotions may enjoy better employee morale, increased employee engagement and lower turnover. According to LinkedIn, employees stay at companies that promote internally for 41 percent longer than companies with low internal promotion rates.

What type of career advancement do employees want?

At this point, you might be convinced employee training and development programs are a worthwhile investment. But what does a training program look like? Training and development programs can mean different things. Some people might care more about job titles and bragging rights; others might be more interested in skill development and the ability to garner a larger paycheck. When creating an employee development program, it’s important to know what your workers want.

A McKinsey survey revealed that job growth, pay, learning opportunities, aligned skill sets and supportive managers were the top five career advancement attributes frontline workers crave. The career advancement attributes that mattered the least included a higher job title, the presence of role models, exit opportunities and recognition from friends or family.

This suggests workers might be unimpressed with fancy job titles that don’t come with pay increases or real skill development opportunities. A mentorship program might be popular, but only if it leads to greater learning opportunities. Workers want to level up their skills – and, in the process, their pay.

When building an employee development program, there are a few steps that can be taken to increase the program’s chances of success. First, assess the needs of your team – what kind of skills do you as the employer, and them as the employees, need? Next, create a plan for how to develop these skills. Once you have a plan, you can deliver employee training. The last step is to evaluate the success of your training program, which will help you adjust your program in the future to be more successful and effective.

Do you need HR support?

Human resources teams need to consider the importance of offering employee training and development programs, but they also need to consider the benefits they’re offering employees – from health insurance to retirement plans to supplemental benefits. From comprehensive employee benefits plans to HR consulting or outsourcing, Higginbotham can provide the support you need. Talk with one of our specialists today.

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