Training and development courses are important for all businesses. No matter what industry you work in, ensuring you have well-trained staff is crucial to achieving and maintaining high performance. Whether it’s developing people for leadership roles or helping employees become experts in certain fields, training and development form the backbone of most successful organisations. But why?

Many people think about training and assume it’s all about the skills people learn. In actual fact, a solid employee development program has far-reaching impacts that go well beyond the training itself. That’s why so many companies invest heavily in training design and even training and development certification for their trainers.

Different types of learning and development

Everybody learns differently, and that’s why the companies that do best at learning and development are the ones that cover several different learning styles. Many people learn by reading. Some learn by doing. Others need an interactive training experience for content to really sink in.

There are generally four major types of learning and development:

  •         Facilitated classroom training
  •         eLearning modules
  •         Facilitated online training (virtual classrooms)
  •         On the job training

There’s no one type of training that delivers better results than another, and that’s because everyone has different learning styles. In reality, you’ll generally achieve much more success if you offer a combination of all four training types. This keeps things fresh, gives employees a chance to learn while working, and also gives you the flexibility to offer more valuable training.

So, here’s why training and development are so important.

A multi-skilled and agile workforce

The days of having specialists for every task are long gone. Businesses now, more than ever, want well-rounded, multi-talented staff. For example, the idea of employing two administration staff because one is great at spreadsheets and numbers and the other is great at writing and communication is just absurd. A qualified administration team member should be able to do all of those things.

However, businesses are also leaning more towards hiring team members based on attitude, personality and more personal traits. This is a smart move, however, it does mean that new employees often require more learning and development to get their technical capability up to speed.

By having a multi-skilled workforce, businesses can deploy resources where they’re needed most. It’s a more agile way to operate and helps you deal with spikes in workload when they occur.

Career pathways

There is also a flow-on effect of multi-skilling your staff, and that’s the career pathways you can build. To get the most out of your training and development programs, you need to talk to staff. It needs to be individualised, and while there are always going to be mandatory courses you want employees to attend, a lot of their development should be aligned to their own goals.

Often, those goals include advancing through the company ranks or moving into certain areas of the business. By understanding what each of your employees aspires to, you can tailor a career pathway for them. Also, if you do this well enough, you’ll start to see patterns and you can build structured learning and development pathways that all staff can follow.

Increase employee engagement

Need some more flow-on effects? Remember, we started with offering training and development courses, creating an agile workforce. That moved on to building better career pathways. In turn, that leads to an increase in employee engagement. Of course, there are several factors that influence how engaged people are in the workplace, but training and development is certainly one of them.

Common gripes about training are that there’s not enough, or that the training provided isn’t relevant. But if you’re doing it well, and providing those genuine career pathways, employees can link training courses to their own goals and see the benefits much more clearly.

When you invest in training and development, you invest in people. Your employees see that, and it makes them feel more valued and recognised for the work they do.

Retain and attract the best talent

Guess what improving employee engagement does? That’s right, it increases retention rates. Staff turnover is a costly business, because not only do you lose a stack of skills and knowledge when someone walks out the door but there’s also the cost of replacement. It takes time and money to recruit new staff. Plus, it takes even more time and money to train them. Even then, the new person you hire might not be as good as the person you lot.

If you providing genuine development opportunities, people are more like to stick around. Plus, when it comes time to bring new talent into the business, comprehensive training and development programs make you an attractive destination employer. It’s your people who make your business what it is, so invest in development to retain and attract the best.

Develop a culture of learning

When you implement great training and development programs, learning becomes part of everyday life. Whether that’s supporting your people through personalised training such as Certificate II, III, IV or Diplomas, or giving people access to a host of short Microsoft Office 365 courses, learning can become part of your culture.

Staff talk to each other. Every office has a ‘grapevine’. So, if people start seeing that learning, training and development is just business as usual, they understand the importance of it. They’ll also see people completing courses and ultimately climbing the ladder, which inspires more people to take control of their own development.

Build resilient employees

When we talk about training, we often think about job-specific courses. That might be internally designed courses, or it could be technical training to assist someone in their role. However, there are other types of training that people benefit significantly from. Personal and professional development. With the right sort of training, you can help people improve all sorts of skills, such as time management, public speaking, leadership, conflict management and so much more.

There are courses designed specifically to help build resilience, and these courses are more valuable than you might think. Change is a constant in most organisations, so equipping your staff to be resilient and deal with change is incredibly important. These types of courses are particularly valuable if you want to start viewing your employees more as people, rather than just jobs. You’re investing in skills they can take anywhere.

Investing in succession plans

Have you ever experienced a situation where a long-term staff member suddenly leaves, and nobody can really do what they used to? Let’s say a key member of your sales team gives their two weeks’ notice. That’s barely enough time to hire a replacement – not if you want a solid recruitment process. That usually means no decent handover, and the departing staff member takes a huge amount of information with them.

With proper training and development, you can start building strong succession plans. Combine job-specific training courses with job shadowing, acting opportunities and mentorship, and you’ll be able to replace departing staff members much more easily. Plus, it always makes sense to promote from within. It’s much easier to hire entry-level staff and move everybody one rung up the ladder than it is to hire a fully qualified person in a senior position.

Strong capability throughout the workforce

Ultimately, training and development are about building strong capability right through your workforce. The types of training you provide to executives may look different to that of your entry-level staff, and that’s totally ok. In fact, it’s ideal. Training and development should be personalised, and it should be relevant for both current roles and where people see themselves moving in the future.

So, to make company-specific training a priority now is the time to train your trainers to serve you better. If you’ve got an in-house team performing training design to enhance the effectiveness of your training sessions, everybody benefits.