Importance of Training and Development for Employees

Employee training and development programs are essential to the success of businesses worldwide. Not only do these programs offer opportunities for staff to improve their skills, but also for employers to enhance employee productivity and improve company culture.

They also can reduce employee turnover — and a 2020 Work Institute study shows just how important that can be for a company’s bottom line. Voluntary employee turnover, according to the report, costs U.S. businesses more than $630 billion annually.

With the right education and credentials, like an online bachelor’s in HR management, you can learn to address personnel challenges like this — or to prevent them entirely.

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It’s no surprise that employees who get regular opportunities to learn, develop, and advance are more likely to stay with a company. Bob Nelson, author of 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees, reports that learning and development are among the top factors in employee engagement.

Employee development is the continuous effort to strengthen work performance through approaches like coaching, training sessions, and leadership mentoring. Training is a specific event that teaches new information or skills, often provided to new or newly promoted employees.

Employees participate in a whiteboard exercise during a work group training session.

Both are key functions of corporate human resources staff, who typically are responsible for planning and implementing these efforts. A bachelor’s degree in human resource management can help prepare you to lead training and development programs at your organization.

Training and Development Enhance Employee Performance

Employee training and development programs are critical for enhancing employee performance. In fact, a 2019 report published in The International Journal of Business and Management Research indicates that 90% of employees surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that training and development programs improved their job performance.

Companies can offer many kinds of in-person or online training and development opportunities for employees. And they can use in-house training, third-party training, or off-site activities to provide those opportunities. These are some types of training and development often available to employees:

  • Management training
  • Sales training
  • New employee training
  • Mentoring programs
  • Apprenticeships

Following are some ways employee training and development efforts improve employee performance.

Training for New Responsibilities

Whether they are cross-training to understand multiple roles or moving into new positions, employees can prepare for additional responsibilities through training and development opportunities. Training and development programs can help employees learn the skills they need in their current roles and introduce leadership skills and software knowledge they will need in the future. One form of training, apprenticeship, allows employees to start as trainees and progress to a higher-level role.

Learning About Industry and Technology Updates

Employee training and development programs can help staff stay up to date on changes in their industry, such as in ethics, safety, or quality standards. They also can show staff new ways to think and work, employing updated technology and processes and educating workers about cybersecurity threats. Putting these new tools and practices to work in their day-to-day roles can lead to better outcomes for employees — and their employers.

Adapting to Remote Work

Safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic moved about 80% of employees to remote work, according to research firm Brandon Hall Group. Since most of the employees previously worked on-site, companies and those working for them have grappled with finding and implementing new tools and resources to accommodate this new environment for work. Training and development focused on these new processes can aid in making this transition.

Updating New Employee Training

New employees often receive training as part of the onboarding process. But refreshers on the information they learned in that training are valuable. The lessons often are easier to digest once employees are more familiar with the organization and their own roles. Additionally, these updates provide opportunities to reinforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) education. Companies often mandate that employees complete annual training courses on important issues such as anti-harassment and legal compliance.

Addressing Performance Review Findings

Training and development programs can help employees build on strengths and address deficiencies identified in their performance reviews. These reviews often recommend knowledge or skills on which an employee should focus for improvement, and training and development efforts can help the employee meet that need. Training and development programs also can help employees discover areas in which they could use additional educational opportunities and support.

Developing Soft Skills

Employee training and development programs can strengthen the soft skills that are essential in adapting to changes at work and in society. Training that highlights examples of soft skills such as resilience, emotional intelligence, and agility in professional settings can create an atmosphere that fosters productivity and camaraderie.

Training and Development Boost Employee Productivity

Employee productivity is another area where the importance of training and development can be seen. Employees who take part in effective training and development programs work more efficiently. To evaluate the effectiveness of their employee development and training programs, organizations can perform these measures, according to HR Technologist:

  • Measuring performance results — Evaluating work outcomes to determine levels of improvement
  • Giving pre- and post-training assessments — Asking employees to share what they expect from training and development programs and whether the company’s efforts met those expectations
  • Mining data — Studying data such as time spent on a course or dropout rates to glean insights about how employees are engaging with the content
  • Conducting polls and tests — Polls and competitions within the training can measure employees’ knowledge and engagement

Employee productivity can be an indicator of a training’s effectiveness. Below are some examples of ways that training and development programs boost employee productivity.

Improving Task Management

Training and development programs help employees manage tasks individually or in teams, relying on a greater understanding of processes and clearly defined goals. Because employees are well-versed in the skills required for their job, they will require less time to find ways to perform tasks.

Targeting Required Skills

Providing training and development to employees allows employers to pinpoint the knowledge and skills they want their employees to have. Training and development programs can educate employees about new skills or provide updates on existing skills to enhance productivity.

Encouraging Continuous Improvement

Today’s ever-changing technologies call for upskilling on a regular basis, and training and development programs provide that opportunity. These efforts encourage innovation and a willingness to take risks to improve processes — with less need for supervision.

Instilling Confidence

Not only will employees who have participated in training and development programs be more confident in their knowledge and abilities, but so will their managers. This confidence fosters a sense of enthusiasm and accountability for work results.

Clarifying Expectations

Training and development programs can help organizations clarify for staff the expectations they have of them. This effort promotes a performance-based culture in which employees set attainable goals based on well-defined organizational principles.

Enhancing Employee Engagement

When employees know they have a supportive employer, they are more engaged and enthusiastic about performing at a high level. Providing employees with training and development opportunities shows an employer is willing to support its employees throughout their careers.

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Training and Development Help with Reducing Employee Turnover

Considering the costly prospect of employee turnover, companies are seeking ways to keep employees on board. Training and development are important to reducing employee turnover.

The Work Institute study shows job characteristics such as training comprised the fastest-growing category of reasons for voluntary turnover — up 117% since 2013. And, in 2019, educational technology company Instructure released results of a survey showing that 70% of U.S. employees say they are at least somewhat likely to leave a current employer and take a new role with an employer that invests in training and development. The following are some ways that employee training and development are key in reducing employee turnover.

Committing to Employment Development and Promotion

Regularly providing impactful training and development opportunities improves employee motivation and job satisfaction, and opens up opportunities for advancement and promotion. Work Institute reports that, in 2019, 20% of employees who voluntarily left their companies did so because of a lack of career development opportunities, the most frequently cited reason for leaving.

Companies also reap benefits from providing these opportunities — saving them the $1,000 to $5,000 that Epay Systems, a human capital and workforce management company, reports it costs to hire each new employee.

Fostering a Sense of Self-Worth and Discouraging Stagnation

Opportunity is a key driver in retaining employees. With this impact in mind, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says companies should train managers to keep staff motivated, engaged, and feeling appreciated.

Training and development programs can also help prevent burnout in employees who have mastered initial tasks. Providing opportunities for growth can rejuvenate staff and give them a new outlook on their work.

Promoting Training as an Employee Benefit

Training and development are a top employee benefit, encouraging a sense of importance and belonging among staff. Companies that can tout training and development opportunities as a perk have the following advantages:

  • Attracting top talent
  • Enticing seasonal employees to return
  • Establishing a workplace where employees praise others

Standardizing Processes and Procedures

Employees who receive clear communication about a job and its required processes and procedures are more likely to stay in it. Training and development programs help relay this information and ensure employees have the tools to perform their roles according to corporate guidelines.

Training and Development Assist with Improving Company Culture

Improving company culture is another benefit of providing employee training and development programs. Chris Dyer, author of the 2018 book The Power of Company Culture, reports that training and development opportunities are in line with attributes he calls the key pillars for a strong company culture:

  • Transparency — Communicating about organizational details such as staff feedback and financial status
  • Positivity — Accepting challenges by building on an organization’s strengths
  • Measurement — Collecting, measuring, and evaluating information.
  • Acknowledgment — Praising and rewarding good work
  • Uniqueness — Advancing a company’s unique qualities
  • Listening — Encouraging active listening that leads to action
  • Mistakes — Fostering an environment where employees learn from missteps

Dyer notes that company leaders should be open about the importance of training and development to the company and its employees as part of a positive culture. The following are among the ways training and development programs can help improve company culture.

Reducing the Need for Constant Supervision

Training and development programs can enhance employees’ competence in their own jobs and familiarize them with the work required of others on their team. This improved task management and teamwork help reduce the need for close oversight.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

A training and development program that addresses individuals’ strengths and values shows a company’s commitment to promoting each employee’s learning and growth. This focus on innovation and overcoming personal challenges makes an organization more attractive to top talent.

Boosting Employee Morale

Mastery of a task — even if it is mundane or relies on a skill with which an employee already is familiar — provides a sense of accomplishment. Providing training opportunities that allow employees to excel helps give them a sense of self-worth and improves morale.

Providing a Path for Improvement

Training and development programs provide a clear path for employees to learn and advance. Learning that addresses specific needs for a current or future role helps employees set a course for their own success.

Helping Employees Feel Recognized

Successful training and development programs feature recognition of employees’ learning achievements. In fact, LinkedIn Learning’s “2020 Workplace Report” shows that many employees were more likely to take part in training if management recognized their learning efforts. Younger employees, in particular, responded to the appreciation of their managers, with 44% of employees under age 22 falling into this category.

Cementing Employee Knowledge of Company Culture

Training and development programs can help companies emphasize their commitment to addressing issues such as diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how their employees can help champion those priorities. A company’s core values — and how training and development programs advance those values — should be clear in programs that promote employee learning and growth.

Embracing Individual Values

Holistic training and development programs celebrate differences and encourage learning based on individual interests and backgrounds. Promoting an understanding of other employees’ cultures and values improves teamwork and helps create a more inclusive and cohesive team.

Enhancing an Organization’s Reputation

Employees who take part in staff training and development are more likely to feel good about their employers. They also are more likely to perform their jobs well, yielding a positive performance that enhances a company’s reputation among customers and other stakeholders.

How to Create Effective Training and Development for Employees

To create effective training and development opportunities, employers should begin by determining what skills and knowledge employees need to help the company meet its goals. Then organizations should tailor their training and development plans according to employee interests and learning styles. Following are ways to create training and development programs that benefit companies and their staff.

Evaluate the Business Impact

Employers should consider the impact they hope the employee training and development programs will have on the organization. Then they should determine company goals for those programs, developing a strategy to support them.

Identify Skills Gaps

Company leaders should determine how employees’ work performance is affecting the organization’s progress in reaching its goals. Their training should address any skill gaps that are slowing the company’s progress.

Select Learning Methods

Companies should consider factors such as employee background, preference, and experience when designing their training and development programs. Among the learning method options for training and development programs are the following:

  • Classroom style
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • E-learning
  • Simulations
  • Role-playing
  • Reading materials

Adjust for Remote Learning

With more employees working remotely today, companies must ensure they can provide training and development programs that resonate with off-site staff. Tools such as videoconferences, webinars, and online forums can encourage learning regardless of employee location. To reduce the risk that misunderstandings or cultural differences interfere with the effectiveness of training and development programs, employers should clearly outline expectations and goals for the experience.

Assess Training Outcomes

Organizations should revisit their training and development programs following each activity. Employees’ experiences with the training and development programming — and their performance following it — can guide future efforts to encourage learning.

Get the Human Resource Skills to Support Strong Training and Development

Training and development programs provide a host of benefits. They enhance employee performance, boost employee productivity, reduce employee turnover, and improve company culture. Explore the importance of training and development programs for employees and employers by pursuing a career in human resources.

Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management can equip you with the knowledge and skills to help companies provide effective employee training and development opportunities. You will focus on areas such as critical evaluation, cultural effectiveness, leadership, consultation, communication, ethics, and relationships management — with a foundation in business concepts. And you will learn about these topics in a flexible, online curriculum that offers opportunities to pursue a master’s degree along with your undergraduate training.

Discover how Maryville’s Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management program can help you pursue your career goals.

Recommended Reading

Cultural Competence in the Workplace: What Leaders Need to Know

Human Resource Management Careers: Essential Roles in Business

The Importance of Human Resource Management in the Modern Workplace


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