The latest employment survey by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) shows that employers are continuing to invest in training and development. On average, 62% of the workforce has undertaken training, equating to £42.9bn of employer expenditure - an average of £2,550 per person.
Increasing amounts of employees are being trained, and a significant amount is being spent on training by employers looking to gain a competitive edge. Many firms report that the market is increasingly dictating the price of goods and services, so the route to profitability and competitive advantage lies in internal productivity and efficiency - driven by high-performing staff.
However, it is not enough for employers to engage in training for training’s sake. In order to maximise return on investment, it must be the right training, at the right time, for the right people.
Here are my five tips for maximising the ongoing return on training investment:
1. Use training as a strategic business tool
All too often training is employed as a remedy to strengthen weaknesses in a team, rather than as a strategic part of organisation development. As Investors In People UK has stated, aligning employees’ skills and development areas with an organisation’s strategy will boost the overall performance of a business.
2. Have clear organisational goals in mind for training
An organisation should always ask itself what its goals for training are, and what benefit it will receive from improving knowledge and skills, and creating behaviour change in the workforce. These aims and goals should be explicitly communicated to the employee so that they understand what is expected of them before, during and after the training. Explaining the bigger picture will encourage them to align with the overall vision of the business.
3. Identify skills gap accurately by asking for outside help
Don’t be afraid to engage external support to help identify gaps and potential interventions. An external consultant will be able to look at business needs objectively and identify skill gaps. It is often difficult to see past the person in real need of further support, particularly in a small business.
4. Ensure that the training actually meets the needs
Ensure that the aims of the training course or intervention are personalised to your business proposition. Accepting a training programme that has been generically created for all companies is unlikely to target skills gaps and improve performance in your business. Request a bespoke consultation, and insist on a recommended plan of action that is tailored to fit your organisation and provide the outcomes you need.
5. Evaluate job behaviour before and after training
It is very important to evaluate job behaviour before and after training to see exactly what impact the training has made. And don’t stop there. Continue to monitor change to ensure your training investment has longevity. Post-training evaluation sheets are simply not enough. A good training provider will work with you to evaluate return on investment effectively.