With Learning at Work Week coming up, we thought we’d take this opportunity to explore why employee training is so important. First let’s understand why training is necessary. While it’s increasingly common for progressive employers to hire for personality and enthusiasm over hard skills, and offer training on the job, no business would purposefully hire new staff that are unqualified or under-qualified without an intention to train them. However, circumstances and roles change over time, meaning that many members of staff could be working in roles that they have not had adequate training to fulfil successfully. Perhaps technology means the way they were trained is no longer relevant, or they’ve been promoted up within a business and have only learned on the job about what they are supposed to be doing.

office workers untrainedIn these contexts, employees are in a sink or swim scenario. They need to complete a task without knowing, explicitly, how it ought to be done. So they figure out their own way. Most of the time this works but, just because you’ve got the job done, it doesn’t mean you’ve done it in the best or most efficient way. Now, imagine you have ten members of staff who all either figured out their own way of doing Task A, or were shown how an existing member of staff completed it. You could have up to ten different ways of completing Task A, each with their own speed, variability and success rates. That doesn’t seem a sensible way of working, but it happens in all businesses because training costs money and the need for training isn’t always immediately obvious.

So let’s explore why employee training is so essential.

Training improves productivity

One of the issues that most affects productivity is variability. The more variable your processes, the more waste you have in them – wasted time, wasted money, wasted resources. This stops employees from being as productive as possible, and ultimately impacts the customer.

unhappy, untrained employee

The only way to address this is to standardise processes, and for processes to be standardised, staff need to be trained to do things the same way.

However, it’s not just standardisation that makes businesses that invest in employee development more productive. Recent figures show that 25% of people leaving a role, do so because of a lack of training opportunities. Training not only makes employees more confident in their ability to perform their role, but it also indicates to them that their employer values them and is willing to invest in their future.

Staff that are happier in their roles, are more productive. Which is why you should care about staff morale.

Training improves staff morale

A recent study by the University of Warwick found that happy staff are 12% more productive than average, while unhappy staff saw a productivity slump of 10%. Training has a huge impact on morale, and it’s not hard to see why. Training shows you value them as an employee, it makes them more confident in their abilities, which can boost their self-esteem and independence. Plus, the change of pace and environment from attending training can give employees a boost when they return to work.

This increased morale can save businesses money too – happier staff are less likely to leave, reducing staff turnover. Keeping invigorated staff in their role, and giving them confidence increases creativity and innovation which in turn leads to –

Training improves your competitive advantage

trained, happy employeeIt’s no surprise that some of the best companies in the world have competitive staff reward and training schemes. Successful companies recognise that they need to support their staff to grow in their role, and by doing so they are investing in the future of the company itself. Training helps organisations plan for uncertainty. A well-trained workforce, one where there are a number of people who can complete each task, are more flexible and able to cope with absences through sickness or staff turnover. This means a smaller impact on the business, and the remaining staff, which is crucial for succession planning.

Plus, with the right learning and development schemes there’s no guesswork as to whether a training course is worth the money – you simply work out the return yourself. While this is easy for training courses such as Lean Six Sigma where certification requires the completion of a successful improvement project or two (with an average ROI of 7:1 for Black Belts in the first 12 months) it is possible to measure ROI for any training course. Like any investment, you should only put your money in if you can be sure you’ll see a return; but with well-trained, confident, empowered staff providing increased productivity, increased morale, higher levels of innovation – it would be hard not to.

So I suppose the real question is, why wouldn’t you want to invest in employee training?

Learning at work week