Employees and their managers view training from different perspectives, and recent surveys highlight the strategies necessary for training initiatives to consistently produce a measurable impact on loyalty and productivity.
Many managers believe employees are overwhelmed with current responsibilities and generally uninterested in new training activities. They say time is short, budgets are limited and there is no point to providing training to employees who don’t really want it. Yet several recent surveys provide a different perspective on the attitudes of workers toward employer-sponsored training. Approximately two thirds of workers credit training for helping them perform their current job more effectively, and when asked if there are areas where additional training would be useful, more than 80 percent of the workers surveyed said “yes”.
So where do managers get the perception that workers are “trained-out”? A close look at the numbers reveals a few potential reasons.
Long-term vs. “quick-fix” training
Workers who receive training on a continuous basis, as part of a long-term training plan that has been communicated effectively to them, are much more likely to be satisfied with both the training and with their employer. And again, when training is presented as part of a long-term plan, the more training workers receive, the better they report liking it.
Workers who are offered no training do not necessarily view that as negative (68% report never thinking about it), but they are much less likely to label themselves satisfied at work. And significantly, workers who receive training sporadically are the LEAST satisfied with training initiatives and the MOST inclined to look for a new employer.
So managers may be correct when they say that their employees are uninterested in new training activities, but the deeper truth is that employees are probably just not interested in sporadic, short-term training activities. They ARE interested in comprehensive training that can be counted on to continually provide practical, productivity-enhancing skills.
This sentiment was expressed clearly by one annoyed employee who added this caustic note to a recent survey: “Every once in a while someone in management gets a pretty training brochure in the mail and immediately decides the rest of us need to be ‘motivated’ or have our ‘skills enhanced’ and we end up wasting a day or two in training while work piles up back at the office. The only good thing is that after the session is over we never have to hear about training again. At least, not until the next brochure comes along”.
The lesson seems to be, if you can’t (or won’t) involve your employees in the development of a comprehensive long-term training plan, your best bet is to provide no training at all.
Other Training Satisfaction Factors
Workers who have a role in making decisions about their training give the training they receive measurably higher marks for both overall satisfaction and program quality. Unfortunately, the vast majority of workers (more than 90%) have very little input into those training decisions.
Although training is most typically associated with a classroom, more than 70% of workers surveyed say the best place to be trained is on the job. Classroom sessions were reported as highly effective only when followed by informal, one-on-one coaching. But again, most workers report that classroom sessions (without one-on-one coaching) are the most common form of training received.
Asked to pick one area in which more training could be helpful, the most common request from employees is for additional training in the use of new technology: more than one in four workers (27%) identifies this area as their greatest need. Interpersonal skills (16%), job and technical skills (15%) and management training (14%) are also commonly requested.
Long-term Training and Employee Loyalty
In a working world where unemployment is at almost record lows and growing skill gaps exist for some kinds of workers, training plays a key role in determining who stays and who leaves. About 80% of workers say training is “Important” or “Very Important” in their decision to stay with a company or move on when they are considering a new job opportunity.
As one VP of Human Resources puts it: ‘Training makes a measurable difference to our employees, not only in helping them do a better job, but in the way they view the company’s commitment to them. We look at our training efforts as a key differentiator, a way to encourage employees to remain loyal rather than jump ship to another company.”