How much of a priority should you make employee training? I’m sure this is a question that you have contemplated in the past. Like many business decisions, the biggest issue that you have to wrestle with is the return that you will get on your investment. In other words, what’s the cost-benefit? If labour can be obtained relatively inexpensively and the cost of turnover is minimal, training your workforce likely won’t be a priority for you. However, if this isn’t the case, training should be given due attention.

Training can take many forms, including being formal or informal, taking place in a classroom, in the regular workspace, off-site or on-site. Training will likely be required during the orientation period for new hires; for example, learning how to operate a specialized piece of equipment. From there, it’s common for training to take place throughout the life cycle of employment. As well, some training – for licensing or legal purposes – will be mandatory.

Not all training opportunities need to cost a large sum of money. Although not necessarily defined as training, one low cost method of skill development is through mentorship opportunities. Pairing a senior staff member with a junior staff member can pay dividends to both parties. Training can also be for one employee or may be applicable to your entire workforce. By sending multiple employees to a training course, seminar, etc., you may find cost savings through a group discount. Alternatively, if you have a several staff that could benefit from the same training, it may make sense to bring the trainer right to your organization.

From a budgeting perspective, it’s important to allocate money for training purposes. Ideally, this will be part of your overall strategic planning process, where you identify the skills that your people will need in order for your company to gain (or retain) a competitive advantage. Essentially, careful thought should be put into determining the skills that your people resources will need over the coming months or years. As part of your overall training budget, offering a specified dollar amount to each of your employees for development purposes is a great way to provide your staff with some flexibility in the training that they receive. For example, in consultation with their manager, an employee who is interested in developing their leadership skills may want to attend a course to help them grow in this area. This approach will benefit your organization from an employee engagement perspective.

Purposeful training will be beneficial to your employees, and in turn, to your organization. In many cases, the development of skills can provide a competitive advantage for your company. Training enables employees to gain new skills and to enhance the skills that they already possess, and continuous learning will help to keep your workforce engaged. Ensure that training is given the attention that it deserves – you won’t regret it!

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