In-House Training: Why It’s Valuable and How It Can Go Wrong
Should industrial employers provide ongoing training for their employees? How that question gets answered usually depends upon who you ask. Studies show that employees see ongoing training as a desired benefit. Unfortunately, many employers see training as an unnecessary cost.
When you look at a company’s assets, owners and managers too often focus on things like equipment and buildings. However, a company’s greatest asset is arguably its employees and the accumulated knowledge and skills they possess. That’s why it’s so frustrating that many senior executives don’t believe that keeping those skills up to date is their responsibility.
Even though companies of all types are increasingly implementing advanced automation technologies to improve efficiency and productivity, many executives maintain negative views of providing ongoing training for employees.
In a recent Industry Week article by Rick Bohan and Ron Jacques, the authors note that a recent study revealed several surprising views regarding training:
- “Only a third of C-suite executives surveyed felt that it’s their company’s job to prepare employees for future roles.”
- “Fewer than a third think that employees should be able to get all the knowledge and skills for the work from their employer.”
- “Half indicated that they saw their own firm’s training efforts as a waste of time.”
It’s no wonder then “that fewer than 20% of workers surveyed felt that their company has a strong learning environment.” Moreover, senior executive views on training are even more puzzling given that “[s]tudies show that training and development initiatives have a 300% [return on investment] ROI.” Specifically, “[t]he research found companies that invested in training and development had:
- 21% increase in productivity
- 24% higher profit margin
- 300% reduction in employee turnover
- 218% higher income per employee
- 86% higher company value, and
- A return per dollar invested of $6.72.”
Why, then, are so many executives pessimistic when it comes to the topic of training? Bohan and Jacques believe that it could be because “they’re simply doing it all wrong in too many cases.” The authors point out a couple of common approaches that frequently result in failure.
The first is the “hard knocks” or “sink or swim” approach. This approach leaves employees to figure things out themselves as they encounter problems on the job. Bohan and Jacques believe this approach is so commonplace because many executives experienced the same approach in their own careers with their predecessors believing the “hard knocks” approach is “less expensive than hiring full-time trainers or consultants.”
As the authors note, however, the “sink or swim” approach too often leads to sinking rather than swimming. Managers tend to ignore the high opportunity costs of this approach, which include decreased productivity, higher turnover, and reduced revenue as a result of “needless errors, delays, mistakes, rework and frustration.”
The other common approach identified by Bohan and Jacques is the “training light” approach. While this approach comes in many forms, the essence of “training light” is that a current employee or manager is tasked with providing basic training on a topic without sufficient preparation or experience. In these cases, while “[t]raining and development are given lip service and even funded,” “such training doesn’t really do anything to help either employees or the organization.”
So how can employers provide training the right way? How can they implement training that sets up employees for success? Bohan and Jacques recommend the “investment approach,” in which investment in training was viewed like any other company investment. They outline three key steps to follow:
- Due Diligence: Make sure that an investment in training “fills a specific need or addresses a specific strategic opportunity.” “Training that provides a positive ROI starts with a needs assessment that seeks answers to questions like these:
- What knowledge, talents, and skills do our people possess right now?
- What knowledge, talents, and skills will our people need if they’re going to be able to help pursue our strategy?
- What are the best methods and means for imparting that knowledge and those skills and talents? And what will we need to invest in those methods?
- How will we know if the methods are providing value?”
- Develop a Plan: A strategic training plan “needs to address who will get what training and education and how.” “As to what training will be delivered, the answer will come from the needs analysis.” Finally, “[t]here are myriad options as to how the training and development gets delivered…it’s simply a matter of matching methods to the who and the what.”
- Assess the Results: Although it may not be easy to gather the information to adequately assess the results of training, employers must invest the time and effort to determine what training works and whether what is being learned is implemented effectively. The authors sum up the importance of this step with a popular training adage: “Don’t do training just so people will die smart. Do training that makes a difference.”
Are you ready to make training a priority for your organization? Remember: “Obtaining a good return on investment—requires investment. Money and, especially, managers’ time and attention, are the requisites to a good return.”
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert at training to implement a new program. The experts at Amatrol have been working hand-in-hand with industry for years to design training programs featuring eLearning curriculum and hands-on experience with trainers equipped with industrial components workers will encounter on the job.
Visit Amatrol online to learn more about its many different types of industrial training programs. For more information about how Amatrol can help you inspire and train the next generation of workers, contact an expert at Amatrol today!