Businesses spend approximately $164.2 billion dollars on learning and development programs, and for good reason. Employee development programs have a bigger effect on business than you might think; learning programs affect employee retention (it's 25% higher for employees who have engaged in company sponsored mentoring), active engagement, and productivity rates.
More importantly, your employees actually want more learning programs! 76% of employees reported they were not given enough opportunities for career growth. So get out your pens and write this down: We’re giving you 7 easy ways to improve employee development programs.
1. Goals Galore
First of all, you need to find out what your employees would like to learn, and also to think about what you might like them to learn about. Are there any things that match up? That’s a good place to start. You also want to make sure that any programs you implement promote positive self esteem in your employees. Goals will inherently help your employee’s confidence; they learn to recognize their own ability and competence by achieving goals that they've set.
Get this: Only 3 out of every 100 adults write down their goals down on paper. It’s crucial that you get your employees to do it, as people who write down goals are 50% more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t. So write down goals together, and get to achieving!
2. Find the Time
We’re all busy people, but those who make time for employee development programs are not only learning from the modules themselves, but also learning how to balance responsibilities. It’ll be difficult, because one-third of employees already suffer from chronic stress, and of those who don’t, 41% still reported being stressed during the work day at some point or another.
What you’ll want to do is find at least a few hours every month to devote completely to employee development. If you need to have a flexible program with no set timeline, opt for webinars or online training. You won’t be alone- 25% of training hours were completed online last year.
3. Go Small or Go Home
A big, time-intensive program is just going to scare everyone away. Instead, go for frequent, small training modules that your employees can complete in their down time. It’s important to keep the learning going, because new knowledge is becoming obsolete faster than ever.
Don’t think of employee development as a one-time deal; it needs to be an ongoing campaign. Having more frequent trainings will help you out in the long run. Staff members who receive frequent on-the-job training have lower levels of stress and higher job satisfaction than their less educated colleagues. By contrast,1 in 3 people leave their organization within the first year due to infrequent employee training. Keep your employees and keep them happy: Keep it small!
4. Invest in the Best
When you’re picking out your employee development programs, don’t skimp. Even if it costs more, make sure you get the best programs you possibly can, and it will be worth it. Businesses that have comprehensive training enjoy 218% higher income per employee than those with less comprehensive training. Businesses that spend more on training get more back; they benefit from 24% higher profit margins than those who spend less on training.
Moreover, you don’t want your employees to feel like you’re wasting their time with a program. If it’s not challenging enough or covers information they already know, they could become disengaged.
5. Tap Your Own Resources
You don’t always have to go outside your own walls to get good training, you should be aware of what your employees and managers have to learn from each other. Research tells us that over 70% of learning on the job occurs informally, between coworkers. Use that to your advantage: take some of that teaching and put it into a learning module that all of your employees can benefit from.
In-house learning also ensures an an informal, safe and supportive learning space. Comfort and flexibility encourages learning retention, so set up in your usual space and keep it casual to maximize your benefits.
6. Train Across Departments
Getting your employees to work together more is never a bad idea. Cross-departmental training helps to foster camaraderie in your business, and also helps your employees get to know their managers better. It’s unfortunate, but one in four workers say they don’t trust their employer, and only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them. Fix that by getting people to work together who normally wouldn’t.
Cross-training also broadens employee skill sets. The time when an employee did one specific task day in and day out is long gone; the majority of employers believe that both broad and major-specific knowledge and skills are needed for career success. You might also discover some hidden talents in your employees by getting them to try out new tasks!
7. Keep an Eye on Your Success
Once you’ve made the goals, you’ve got to track them. It’s important to find ways to quantify progress, so that neither you nor your employees get discouraged. When you can see your progress, you’re more likely to continue with the training. Quantifiable progress also gives you a realistic picture of the situation; tracking helps you to focus on the important things you need to do in order to move toward your goals.
Now that you know how to improve your employee development programs, see if you could benefit for a little outside help. ClearCompany has a plethora of workforce solutions to help you balance your workforce needs.
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent thousands of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.