In today’s knowledge economy, you need well-trained workers to leverage your bottom line. Training can be either technically or emotionally based. Although it’s relatively easy to provide technical instruction through written or computer-based resources, emotional training often requires people to communicate with each other directly, often in conjunction with online training.
To develop and maintain effective training programs, we recommend these guidelines:
1. Create a training system. Commit to training as a process, rather than an event. Set clear standards for your hard and soft skill-set needs. Create a strategic plan, budget, and schedule.
2. Provide the right tools. Not all training resources are created equal. You want to examine the user experience of the training platform (Learning Management System) as well as the content available.
3. Follow up. If one-time training worked, you could ride a bike after reading a single book on bicycling. Provide a continuing process to help employees incorporate what they learn during the training experience.
4. Offer incentives. Give your employees rewards or payoffs for their participation in training programs. These incentives can be either financial or non-monetary perks (dinners, entertainment tickets, and so forth). Reward and reinforce the learning experience so that the employee wants to repeat it.
5. Leverage training. Whenever an employee gains a valuable insight during a training session, encourage them to share this information with co-workers who it might affect. Multiply the impact of training by having workers immediately use what they’ve learned to help the company run more effectively.
6. Know who pays. It can be hard to determine whether a worker or their company should pick up the tab for third-party employee training. Here are some brief pointers on the legal obligations involved:
- An employer must compensate for mandatory training time unless it’s directly related to professional licensing;
- Time spent on voluntary training is not compensable if it’s outside normal working hours and not directly related to the employee’s job. For example, training a programmer on using a current application is compensable; paying for an MBA program so the employee can become a future manager is not;
- Training that directly benefits an employer is always compensable. For example, new-hire training on welding procedures on an object eventually purchased by a client is compensable; voluntary welding training that results in no end product is not.
- Training expenses can be reimbursed on a pro-rata basis if an employee agrees to do so beforehand and leaves the company a short time afterwards. So, if the employee goes through a year-long training program that costs the company $10,000 and they take another job a month later, it’s appropriate to demand reimbursement for most, if not all, of this expense;
- An employer that operates a for-fee training program cannot use completion of the program as a condition of hire.
7. Sell it to all stakeholders. Know that you have a sales job to do so that you have the full support of executives, managers and employees. This means you must show the benefit to each group that exceeds the value of the time and money commitment.
There you have it. The basic, yet powerful, formula for training success!
Don Phin, Esq. is VP of Strategic Business Solutions at ThinkHR, which helps companies resolve urgent workforce issues, mitigate risk and ensure HR compliance. Phin has more than three decades of experience as an HR expert, published author and speaker, and spent 17 years in employment practices litigation. For more information, visit www.ThinkHR.com.