Training and education are all the rage at the moment. And rightfully so: the events of the past two years have put employees into the limelight, emphasizing concepts such as candidate/employee experience and employer branding. On top of that, one thing was proven to be a top priority for conscious employers: staff retention.
In order to both retain and motivate your workers, much can be done in terms of financial and other benefits—like the one that jumped to the top of the priority list—work/life balance. However, the world has kept turning and days are moving on; this means that our workflows and conveyor belts also need to keep spinning. Enter training and development—another benefit for an active workforce!
A well planned training and development strategy can be juggled alongside a healthy work/life balance. Not only that—they can bring a host of benefits to your employee community! Today we take a deep dive to learn exactly how.
The benefits of in-house training
In-house training has many benefits. Let’s look at the top four.
There are many benefits to on-site training, but the primary one comes from the name itself: it’s done on-site. It quickly becomes very convenient, both in terms of travel arrangements and hours spent: less travel time translates directly into more training time. This is feasible when we are talking about training—building skills for an existing position within a company. If we’re talking about development—upskilling for a completely new position—then employees are bound to leave the premises.
However, since travel restrictions still apply, staff are not as eager as before to take out whole weekends (or even weeks) away from home to create room for developing in-house training. With both trainers and trainees working at the same place, this makes things rather flexible on both ends. There’s a flip side to it which we will discuss later, but generally speaking, this is a nice compromise that ties in well with the previous point.
When developing in-house training methods, there’s another perk that sometimes gets overlooked, and that’s the level of customization. Having your employees develop sessions for other members of your staff means they will be able to pinpoint and precisely address the issues at hand.
Outside courses usually cover the needed topics, but are made for a wider audience; your staff can sometimes get overloaded with unnecessary information. Having in-house trainers means you’re essentially getting a tailor-made course that’s aiming directly at the skills gap! The software 360Learning is specifically designed to empower employees to build training courses.
Although we’ve been skipping this point, one of the most important benefits of doing training in-house is, of course, the money. An internal program, which is well-designed and result-driven, can save many costly expenditures: no travel expenses, no subsidies, and training can be done within working hours. This is not to say that money should be the primary consideration when choosing training courses, but it’s not something to neglect either.
Another cost consideration comes in at this point, although this one usually proves a bit of a stretch. However, don’t brush it away immediately. A well-designed training program that has been tried and tested, and has driven results for your company, can be commercialized down the line, providing another revenue stream and positioning your company as a leading expert force within your industry. Something to think about, isn’t it?
Finally, having your seniors working closely with your juniors does another thing that’s beneficial for productivity—it literally builds your team. An effort like this one is based on inter-department collaboration, and it consequently requires (or leads to) stellar internal communication. Working in such an environment—especially if it leads to tangible results—will do wonders for team morale, sometimes surpassing classic team-building events!
Potential downsides of in-house training
Now, all of the above sounds like a dream come true. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no challenges with internal training. When planned carefully, the benefits will outweigh the downsides, but let’s have a look at the possible pitfalls.
You will need to take care of the administration involved:
- Hours allocation,
- Having others cover for your employees taking part in the training.
On top of administrative work, there are the logistics: your trainers will need tools for their teaching work. You will need to have a dedicated space for your education, and not just in terms of a room that’s fit for teaching and learning.
Work and learning competing for employees’ attention
When training is done on the job, trainee engagement and attention can take a hit. Depending on your company policy and the work habits of your trainees, they can end up distracted by the work that’s piling up on their desks while they’re doing their training. That’s why it’s important to learn more about scheduling software and to visually separate workspace from educational space.
Networking among peers
One of the biggest perks of travelling away from the premises for training is the networking that happens on across-industry events. This is something you lose if training is done on-site, so try to compensate for it by taking part in other events that gather your peers. Peer-to-peer learning is a great way to connect dispersed team members and encourage knowledge sharing. Likewise, many organizations formalize peer mentoring programs where coworkers leverage their unique skills and knowledge to help one another.
Updating training content
Finally, if you have your own staff working as trainers, it might prove hard for them to keep the materials and the content up-to-date. This is something that requires careful planning: remember that your trainers are not doing the teaching gig full-time, so provide them with the time and the resources to stay on top of trends and developments in your field.
Designing in-house training for the long run
If you have weighed the pros and the cons carefully, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and see which operational steps need to get done. Again, plan carefully and thoroughly, because good preparation is almost half of the work!
Here are the steps you can take to make sure your training development goes as smoothly as possible:
- Assessment - assess your training needs. This means identifying the skill gaps and establishing the goals you’ll aim all your efforts at from this point on.
- Design - you’ll need a program, or a curriculum, which will clearly outline both the goals and the priorities for the training or development program.
- Staff - now it’s time to see who among your seniors is a good candidate to be a trainer, coach, or mentor (here are the characteristics to look for). These people need to be communicative, organized (to handle their core work and the education on top of that—getting busy executives to participate can be challenging, but not impossible), and they need to have at least a basic understanding of educational activities.
- Form - your in-house training can be a very formal event, but it can also take the form of casual lunchtime events or even one-on-one training. There’s also something to be said about the difference between training, coaching, and mentoring, so consider that as well!
- 3,2,1… Go! - and now it’s time to actually do it. Remember, no matter how well you plan, chances are it’s not perfect; you need to test out your method to be able to see its shortcomings and to tweak it further down the road.
- Assessment - it’s simple: assess everything, and gather feedback from everyone: trainees, trainers, admins, all people who pitched in to help with ancillary tasks. Analyze and tweak accordingly - if you plan to make your in-house training top-notch, remember that it’s supposed to be a work-in-progress!
After all the careful planning and testing, you’ll most likely see that the benefits of in-house training severely outweigh the downsides. As mentioned above, consider not only the needs of your workflow but the needs and the requirements of your staff. Make your in-house training a holistic effort that not only improves your productivity but the well-being of your staff and your employee community.
Tying it all together
Workers nowadays need their space. They need to clearly distinguish their private life from their business life. On top of that, they need to be motivated. We all managed to make it through a very confusing period, and new skills were acquired on the go to make all of that happen. Now it’s time to build on that skill base—to expand, and to apply the lessons learned to other fields of work.
In-house training provides the platform for doing exactly that—learn and quickly apply. Balance your in-house training carefully with other activities, and you’ll soon be wondering why you haven’t done it ages ago!
Compliment this article with a guide to building an employee development plan that will help existing employees find their growth path within their existing company as an alternative to constant recruiting. Additionally, if you’re on the path of building a learning organization, check out our blog on building a learning culture that outlines several concise steps that you need to follow.
Employees are your greatest resource. Investing in their growth and development should be a priority for organizations.