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Why employee training is more important than you realise

Posted on from Home Learning College

It’s accepted knowledge that training is often one of the first budgetary casualties of a recession. When the financial future is uncertain there is a natural inclination to tighten the purse strings, and it’s at times like this that training can seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. At first glance this appears to be a logical response to economic pressures, so it may come as unwelcome news to hear that training, or lack of it, can be real deal breaker for employees.

Employees keen for training opportunities

It seems that a lack of training is endemic in British businesses and that this problem existed long before the current financial crisis.

Home Learning College’s own research shows that almost two thirds of workers have never received financial help from their organisation towards the cost of gaining a professionally recognised qualification. A further 37% say that their employer does not take any interest in developing their skills.

The survey, which was conducted among adults in employment, also revealed that although bosses still believe money and job security are the main motivating factors, around a fifth of workers have actually left a job due to a lack of training opportunities.

Further research among senior decision makers from small, medium and larger organisations revealed that this is a particularly pertinent issue for larger businesses. While a quarter of medium sized companies report having lost staff because they couldn’t provide training this figure rises to 49% for businesses with over 250 employees.

Lack of training may affect employee engagement

While there is no doubt that factors such as salary increases and progression opportunities play a key role in employee engagement, most people understand that these are not always possible when times get tough. Implementing a short term freeze in such areas is generally accepted with relative good grace when the reasons are fully understood.

However, employers should be careful not to push staff loyalty to its limits because once lost it can be hard to re-gain. Many employees have been forced to grin and bear a lack of investment in their development over the past 12 to 18 months due to a dearth of opportunities elsewhere and an unwillingness to rock the boat. However, this should not be mistaken for genuine engagement. In reality, any economic upswing is likely to encourage vast swathes of the workforce to start actively considering their options.

Plan for economic recovery by offering training

It’s fair to say that post-recessionary recovery depends on retaining talented employees. Any business that fails to maintain the loyalty of its workforce is likely to experience a mass exodus as soon as the job market picks up. This will have a direct impact on the organisation’s ability to respond to favourable economic conditions and could be the difference between success and failure.

Introducing a cost-effective training programme is an ideal way to start increasing engagement. This assertion is backed up by feedback from employees, 49% of which say that relevant training would help to compensate for not being offered a pay rise or promotion in the immediate future.

Take a strategic approach to training

It may seem obvious, but the key to a successful training programme lies in ensuring that it delivers real value to all parties. Unfortunately it seems that this common sense approach is not always followed, with almost a fifth of bosses across a wide range of organisations saying that training is allocated by gut instinct or who shouts the loudest.

To compound this issue, a quarter of senior decision makers who took part in Home Learning College’s research admitted that training is not properly evaluated in their company – a figure that rose to 38% in larger businesses. It’s no wonder that the true Benefits are often underestimated when outlay of time and money in this area is not fully assessed for return on investment.

Invest in employee skills & reap the rewards

All training should be delivered as part of a strategic development plan designed to deliver the greatest benefit to all parties. To get the most out of any study, training courses should be selected for their ability to foster skills, knowledge and confidence that will have a direct impact on an employee’s competence and efficiency.

Evaluation of these factors should encompass qualitative and quantitative feedback from employees and managers, both immediately after the training and at regular intervals moving forwards, and should investigate general satisfaction and engagement alongside specific performance related measures.

In short, employers should act now to strengthen staff relations by considering all available training options, whether delivered by an internal resource or external provider. Rather than letting valuable team members slip through the net, it is time to start investing in employee development and the creation of a dynamic and engaged workforce on which to build future business success.

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