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Training employees is essential to their performance on the job and for achieving the objectives of the organization. To train an employee means to ensure that they acquire the capabilities required to perform their jobs. It can also serve to develop their skills for a future job that they may hold. Most importantly, strategic training is the most beneficial for an organization. Strategic training is where the training initiatives taken by the organization aligns with its values and business strategies, which would theoretically help them gain a competitive advantage. Such training can be divided into four different categories: legally required training, basic and remedial skills, job and technical training, and soft skills. Legally required training includes those such as safety compliance, nondiscrimination, harassment prevention, driving skills, industry-specific requirements, and others mandated by law. Basic and remedial skills might include training on the English language, literacy, and core mathematics. Job and technical training includes customer service, equipment operations, quality procedures, IT and technical skills, and product details. Soft skills are interpersonal communication, ethics, team relations, conflict management, coaching and feedback, as well as diversity and inclusion. All of these can be taught through training in order to improve employees’ performance at work.
Training employees is a significant investment in their performance. It accounts for, on average, 2% of an organization’s cost of payroll, as employees will spend many hours training if the organization chooses to do so. Training costs might also include the costs of venues, food, and compensation if an employee is required to attend outside of their work hours. However, how much companies choose to invest and spend on training will vary by industry and how large the company is. Industries that are highly regulated tend to spend more on training, including healthcare, real estate, banking, insurance, etc. This might be a combination of government regulations that require specific training for these jobs and the performance standards the industry has set for employees in the field. Theoretically, the more that an organization invests in training their employees, they will enhance their skills and perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively. This is a tradeoff that most companies have to face, because training is so costly and the results are not always guaranteed. If training works as organizations expect it to, they will see lower turnover, higher profitability, and improved quality.
One concern that many companies may have with investing in training is the turnover rate of their employees. Organizations may be hesitant to invest in training their employees due to fear of those employees then leaving the organization to utilize their enhanced skills elsewhere. This can be an unreasonable concern, as many businesses recognize that training is essential to improving their current employees’ work and to achieving success. There is always a chance that an employee will leave an organization, but training them will allow for improvement while they are still with one organization and could even increase their desire to stay if they see an opportunity for career development within the company.
However, training is only effective if it is planned and carried out properly. Many companies follow a standard process called instructional systems design, and more specifically the ADDIE framework. This contains five steps to follow in order to ensure that all the necessary learning materials are provided during a training to a specific group of people at that time. The first step of the process is to assess the needs through organizational analyses, individual analyses, and task analyses. This ensures that the problem is defined, as well as the resources, learning environment, and learner’s existing skills. The next step is designing the training, considering the learners themselves and what strategies to use. The third step takes the design further, where the learning materials and content are developed and tested to ensure effectiveness. Following these phases is the implementation or delivery of the established training, where it is taught to its target audience. After these are completed, assessment of the results must be made to evaluate how effective the training was. Evaluation can be done once the process is completed in its entirety, known as summative evaluation, or it can be done at the end of each phase, known as formative evaluation. This would be a very formal, meticulous method of training individuals and employees, though informal and on-the-job training can be just as effective in ensuring that employees know how to perform a task well. Either method can and should be utilized for an organization to improve their employees’ performance and results despite the costly investments, so long as the training is effective.