Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Caroline Schmidt from the Kangan Institute. Her opinions are her own.
Most employers appreciate that up-skilling their staff—whether through online learning or short courses—is a worthwhile endeavour.
Both in terms of achieving business goals and boosting employee satisfaction, investing in staff can facilitate a rewarding, thriving workplace culture.
It’s why training is needed for employees, and why investing in your employees’ existing skills is more worthwhile than you might think.
Benefits of training to employers include increasing productivity, better serving customers or clients, and ultimately doing better business.
The importance of training and development of employees cannot be underestimated.
As with any long-term venture, the upfront cost must be considered. To get the maximum return on investment, you’ll need to research the right courses or training opportunities best designed for your staff.
It makes sense that this isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. To get the most out of further training, follow these steps to ensure your chosen short courses or TAFE courses will add the most value to your staff.
Address the current climate
First and foremost, you’ll want to assess specifically why you feel the need to engage in workplace training.
Although we’ve briefly looked at the benefits of training to employers, it can be useful to think about any problems that you’re currently experiencing and how training can remedy these.
These days, up-skilling is necessary for two reasons: an ageing workforce, and technological advancements.
Firstly, an ageing workforce means that your employees are likely to be working longer.
While traditionally workers may have retired around age 60, now it is far more common for people to work well into their 60s and even 70s. Further learning can help you to capitalise on this greater experience and use it to your business’s advantage.
Secondly, evolving technology is something that every business must take into account.
Those who graduated from a TAFE course or university degree 10 years ago will need to refresh their skills to keep up with the latest best practice. There will also be new software or techniques to learn that didn’t exist even a few years ago.
Together, these two factors can seriously affect employee performance. General TAFE courses or skill-based short courses can be ideal for overcoming these barriers, while making the most of extensive employee experience.
Tailor your training programs
Contrary to how some organisations approach employee development, truly successful training should serve the aspirations of both the employee and the business.
This means there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and meeting formal regulations or industry obligations is not the only reason why training is needed for employees.
Instead, fruitful training needs to be developed hand in hand with the people who are going to be taking part.
Think about developing an online survey tool or a workshop to encourage employees to contribute their thoughts about where their skills lie and where they’d like to develop.
Perhaps they feel there is a weakness in their skillset, or that there might be a better way of doing things.
Where do they see themselves in five years, and what courses could help them get there?
From there, collate this feedback and identify the type of staff training that will best meet the needs of both your employees and the business.
Keeping the future development of the business in mind, you’ll also want tiered training for different levels of expertise.
Those who have recently moved up into a new role might benefit from some broader, hands-on training, whereas those who have been with the company for a number of years might be ready for leadership training as they approach managerial positions.
These skill-based aspects might not be typical of a standard university degree, but could be addressed through specific TAFE courses, or even short courses aimed towards a certain industry.
Investigate the types of training available
It’s worth remembering that everyone’s learning style is unique, and this can influence which of the types of staff training you choose. Some of us may be practical learners, others visual, and others learn best through theory-based delivery.
Encourage employees to volunteer which courses in the past they’ve found most beneficial, and how they were delivered.
Here are some of the types of staff training available:
Short courses vary in how they are delivered, but all have a very small timeframe to complete. They may be completed in as little as two weeks, or have a single class each week for six to 10 weeks. They may be online or they may be completed as a TAFE course.
In general, these encompass smaller group sizes, meaning that as well as being flexible around existing commitments, your employees will receive substantial assistance from their tutor or teacher, as well as interacting with others in the industry.
With online learning, you have the added benefit of having employees complete their training together at your business.
Set aside a half-day per week, or even a few hours for shorter modules, and always check in to see if any issues arise.
Most often, online learners will be assigned virtual tutors who can answer any questions or concerns.
If cost is an issue, or if you want to take advantage of internal talent that exists within your organisation, then workplace mentoring could be a fantastic starting point.
This type of training has the added advantage of delivering skills and knowledge that is specifically tailored to your business, although has limitations if your mentor has not unskilled recently themself.
In addition, fostering a mentor relationship between staff members can facilitate collaboration, more effective communication and a happier workplace.
Once you’ve identified the ideal short course for an employee, then the next step will be to break it down into manageable segments that can be delivered over a period of time.
Not only will this make the study much more manageable for your employees, it will also ensure longer-term gain from your efforts.
Think about offering short courses that have one session per week, or online training options where people can access modules at the time that it best suits them.
You may also consider involving managers in their teams’ progress. Perhaps, following each session, employees might report to their managers who act as a mentor.
Not only will this help to cement comprehension, but it’s also an opportunity for managers to add insight, or offer solutions to any problems that they may be facing.
Perpetuate organisation-wide coaching
Investing in training is only the first step.
Instead, think about the entire lifespan of knowledge and skills your employees are learning through these additional courses, and the impact they have throughout the business.
If a manager undergoes a TAFE course, have them present their new skillset to the executive team, and then refine these understandings for mentoring with each member of their own team where relevant.
Encourage everyone who takes part in training or coaching of some form to reflect on whether they found it beneficial, or gained any new insight into the business or their role.
This will help you optimise your approach to professional development for your staff, and allow you to identify the most worthwhile courses for each stage of your employees’ careers.