Over the last few decades, ‘training and development’ has surfaced as a recognised business function and profession, becoming a key part of company strategies with its own distinct theories and methods.
What is training and development?
Training is essential to every company and plays an important role for many reasons. Training and development refers to activities within an organisation which aim to improve and upskill employees’ knowledge and performance through a variety of methods and programmes.
It’s important to note that there’s a difference between training and learning. Namely, training is generally in the form of specific instructions delivered through various methods to support a specific purpose – formal training is one response to help people do their jobs now and in the future. On the other hand, learning is centred more on the individual, and many organisations now focus on enabling a more self-driven learning culture. The idea is that the individual is empowered with the tools, mindset (including curiosity) and support to continually seek better expertise and improve what they do as a pull not push strategy.
To make the training worth the individual and organisational investment, the learning gained must be transferred to the everyday workplace.
It goes without saying that an employee who receives good quality and meaningful training will be better able to perform their job, safely, confidently and competently. It’s important to organise appropriate training and development sessions for your employees. It allows them to acquire new skills and refine existing ones, which in turn increases productivity and job satisfaction.
Benefits of employee training and development:
Improved engagement and performance – staff who receive extra training will perform better. Training not only gives employees an improved understanding of their role but also builds confidence, leading to enhanced overall performance.
Career development – in this context, extra training will also equip employees to progress in their roles.
Employee confidence and morale – investment in training will help to show employees that they are valued, and in turn create a more supportive and satisfied team.
Increased employee retention – you are likely to experience lower staff attrition if you invest in training and development.
Disadvantages of training and development:
If training and development is well-aligned to what the business needs and the benefits are clearly communicated to employees there are few disadvantages.
There is, of course, always a risk that after investing time and money in employee development, the individual could potentially leave their job. However, with the best training programmes, this is less likely to happen. If you don’t train employees and they stay, that’s far worse!
Training and development can be expensive but it no longer needs to be. Coaching, on-the-job and digital learning are examples of training and development that can be integrated cost-effectively into the working day.
Which organisations need training and development?
In short, all companies need training and development regardless of their industry sector. Most larger, corporate organisations will have a designated training and development department, however, small businesses may also invest in training and development but this is likely to be less structured and not relate to a particular learning path.
Development programmes offer many benefits to small businesses. For instance, training helps companies create qualified staff, improving potential employee development for promotion and progression opportunities. In addition, training can of course help to enhance an employee’s performance and morale, leading to improved productivity and overall job satisfaction.
Who is involved in training and development?
Obviously, employees are the ones participating in training and development to learn new skills and knowledge to transfer to their roles.
The overall role of the manager in training and development is to give support and exchange feedback with both the trainers and employees to make sure everything is going according to plan. The manager needs to make sure that the training will be beneficial and worthwhile to the employee and add value to their role. In some cases the manager will coach or mentor their team member to improve and develop formal skills.
Those working in learning and development departments are likely to facilitate, provide or consult on the training as well as evaluate it with the employee’s business function to make sure the training is successful.
Having a senior sponsor for your training programme is likely to raise it’s profile and make sure budget is available to deliver it. The sponsor and anyone else who has authorised funding for your development programme must be informed of plans, progress and achievements so they know there is a direct return-on-investment (ROI).
What are the main drivers of training and development?
Rather than hiring new talent from the external jobs market, some organisations may prefer to recruit existing employees with potential and upskill them or identify employees with transferable skills. Providing impactful training does not only ensure that it meets employees’ expectations, but it also helps retain the right people in a difficult talent market.
Low performance or targets to meet
If an individual or team isn’t performing to the level required training is one solution. There might be other reasons for low performance including lack of or the wrong tools and processes or management challenges so it is important to diagnose these correctly before investing resources and taking remedial action.
Perhaps there’s been a lot of change or a company restructure. If morale is low and people feel like they don’t have control over their existing role or career path training and development opportunities can breathe fresh life into an employee’s experience as well as equip and empower them to take a stronger lead.
How to measure the effectiveness of T&D
Conducting a pre and post-assessment is vital in measuring the effectiveness of training. Knowing what employees need and expect to get out of a training program is a great way to incorporate key elements into sessions. Post-training assessment is also important for understanding whether or not your employees have learned valuable things which they can apply at work.
The proof is in the pudding as they say so really to judge impact is to see if the training has had a positive influence on changing individual behaviour or improving performance. Line managers are in a great position to spot whether there have been improvements as they are likely to have identified the training need in the first place and have a good understanding of what needed to change or improve.
Love it or loathe it many training and development teams use the Kirkpatrick model to measure the impact of training and learning programmes. It’s probably the best known model and operates in four stages:
Level 1 – Reaction
This level measures how participants react to the training, usually in terms of ‘satisfaction’ or engagement.
Level 2 – Learning
For this level the evaluation looks to measure what knowledge or skills have been gained.
Level 3 – Behaviour
Level 3 is about how the individual is applying what they’ve learned at work. How is this happening? What has changed or improved?
Level 4 – Results
The holy grail is a tangible impact on the business as a result of the training. Level 4 is perceived as notoriously difficult to prove as often training is one tactic towards achieving an improvement. However, if a project or programme is well-aligned from the outset it should be possible to demonstrate what’s changed or improved at a team, function or business level.
What are typical methods of training and development?
On-the-job training – On the job training typically involves a combination of observing others (perhaps by more senior or more experienced employees) and hands-on experience completing tasks under the supervision of a training coordinator or manager.
Team building activities and learning – Team building exercises are known to increase motivation and morale, encourage positive reinforcement and improve communication, especially by connecting remote and perhaps disconnected teams.
Online training – Some of the main benefits of online training is that it allows for flexibility and accessibility, which is vital in the current climate. In addition, online education often costs far less than in-person training, which is another significant advantage.
Classroom learning – Despite online learning having its benefits, in-person training may be particularly helpful in situations where you want to build in more interaction. Additionally, classroom learning can help to enhance social and communication skills and encourage teamwork. Increasingly, and especially through COVID, training teams are using Google Classrooms, Zoom break outs and other online tools to achieve a comparable experience virtually.
Video learning – Right now, a very popular method of training is video learning. This includes virtual classrooms like Zoom and Skype, where people can participate in video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars whilst working remotely.
In addition, tools like StoryTagger provide your people with the structure they need to confidently reflect on and record work experiences. With no complex file transfers or editing, it’s simple to build reflection, video creation and knowledge sharing into the flow of work for remote teams.
If you are experimenting with video conferencing tools to run online training, you are not alone. According to Fosway, 53% of learning and development professionals rate virtual classrooms as the most successful platform in supporting their organisations during the pandemic.
How is training and development changing?
Of course, training and development is now leaning even further towards online methods. From the start of lockdown, training and development professionals were fast out of the blocks to reimagine how they could support a more virtual workforce with current issues in the workplace regarding global business and international training. As a medium, video has been one of lockdown’s winners helping people connect and work with each other, so it’s no surprise that both live video platforms and video learning content top learning and developments ‘most successful’ list in Fosway’s recent research.
Impact of Covid-19
According to McKinsey, workplace learning is emerging as one of the hardest-hit business activities during the pandemic. Based on observations as of early March, roughly half of in-person programs throughout June 2020 were postponed or cancelled in North America. In parts of Asia and Europe, the figure is closer to 100 percent.
The impact of Covid-19 has meant we’ve seen a shift to more virtual training and development methods. Faced with an overnight increase in demand for online from both senior stakeholders and users, many teams found themselves in the digital transformation slipstream. Initially, this might have meant creating or curating useful content or speedily converting face-to-face development programmes to virtual classrooms. As teams start re-boarding colleagues after furlough and reassessing strategic priorities it’s time to reflect on what’s working, what’s not and prepare for bolder changes.
How can StoryTagger support training & development?
StoryTagger supports training and development in a multitude of ways as it helps people share knowledge, tips and experiences as bite-sized videos from their mobile phone. It’s a cost-effective, flexible and structured way of crowdsourcing user-generated video content which can then be used in development programmes, as online training resources and more.
How StoryTagger works
StoryTagger uses structured storytelling techniques to guide users to reflect and share short, focused video stories. Each story topic is split into bite-sized parts or scenes so people can create a compelling response within a narrative framework, and handy prompts and a defined structure means people never lose their train of thought. There are no editing or technical skills required as StoryTagger combines individual scenes into one overall video.
Most video apps focus on filming what’s in front of the camera, however StoryTagger guides people to reflect, codify and share their own learning experiences. It’s designed to build confidence in self-filming and develop reflective practice skills that help the best stories rise to the surface by combining the power and trust of both video and user-generated content to create an accessible, impactful solution.