Chris J Powell

Engagement and Training…a Match Made in Heaven

Study after study shows that one of the top drivers for Employee Engagement (a leading factor in Employee Retention and Company Profitability/Productivity) is in providing them with real and effective training. In fact, according to a 2011 study by the National Research Business Institute, 23 percent of your own employees will leave their positions this year siting the lack of development and training as a primary cause.

This is a global issue as the workforce is hit with the new generation of Millennials who have a different set of expectations from employers than the Boomers and the Gen X that I belong to.  A report from the UK shows that Productivity and Engagement can be directly linked to the investment in Training and Development…so why is it that over the past decade employers have been looking at this as an unneccessary expense?

From my own experience, it is usually the case that employee training is focused at the supervisory and management levels in hopes that there can be a net cost benefit and that the information is “downloaded” to the employees…I have rarely seen this be even remotely successful as those who get the training, tend to hoard the information and fail to bring the positive changes down to the work groups that they represent because there is no incentive for them to do so.

This may be my own experience but in a recent post over at Chief Learning Officer Media only 15 percent of the skills taught are retained by those attending, there is a lack of executive buy in to the training and the investment is generally in the wrong people…so if an investment of over $150 Billion is being made in the US alone…and there is such a poor track record…why pour more money into the issue?

The answer to that is quite simple:

Engage your Employees and find out what they want and need.  Build a culture that is conducive to your staff not only wanting to stay with you, but protect against the ever increasing mobile work force that is driven not by rewards, but by recognition.  It is no longer just about the Dollars…it is about stability in the face of constant change.

Things like Bring Your Own Device has empowered employees to have what they want, work with what they want and build/sell/service/support in better and more creative ways leading to higher productivity and with higher productivity generally comes far higher profits.

The culture change needed to truly make a difference in an organization when it comes to Training and Development is really not about investing in a one size fits all Corporate Retreat or bringing in the latest “Sale Guru” to inspire and lead…it is about connecting with your employees on an individual level, supporting and building a new culture at the Supervisory and Management Level that does not tie their bonuses to money saved from the training budget.

A wise man once told me that a major difference in today’s new employee in comparison to the past is that there is an Expectation of Free Education/Training.  We are all employed to do a job, and some things like Health & Safety, Sale Process or other very specific information should be included…but then once you have released your employees into the wild with the knowledge and the skills that are the “minimum standard” for success, training and development should be ongoing but in my opinion tied to performance.

For top performers, a reward of advanced training and certification for the bottom performers…some remedial training before it is too late…but training should be accessible to everyone who wants it and earns it.

One idea that I always thought had promise was during performance reviews is the option of tying available education credits to these annual reviews.  Sure it is nice to get a raise…it definitely helps pay for the increased heating and electric over this hard winter…but even better…what if your past performance could lead to better future performance with eLearning credits, off site training, college/university courses that can be cashed in and taken in the employees own time all for the improvement of the employee, their engagement and in the long term…the company that is supporting them.

Just a thought, and with that I leave you with one of my favorite cartoons that looks at the CFO and the CEO of a company looking at the future of the employees:




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