In 2015, a CBI employer survey reported that for the first time, concerns about skills had overtaken employment regulation as the most significant threat to the UK’s workforce competitiveness. And yet over a third of companies said that they had done no training of their workforce in the last 12 months.
In addition, employers are also reporting that nearly a third of vacancies are difficult to fill because candidates don’t have the appropriate skills.
It is in employers’ interests to help, and support, their employees in learning and developing new skills. Investing in its people helps organisations:
- Improve staff morale
- Increase staff retention
- Boost employee motivation
- Increase employee productivity
Delivering learning and development
Many organisations use a 70:20:10 approach to their learning and development:
- 70% of the learning and development needs of employees take place through on-the-job training and having a go at tasks themselves.
- 20% of employees’ learning and development is delivered through coaching and mentoring.
- 10% of training is provided through a more traditional approach using training courses and sessions.
Of course, these numbers are just a guide, but it serves to remind us that it is beneficial to offer a number of different approaches to learning and development in order to keep employees motivated.
A large part of training takes place on an informal basis where employees gain skills and knowledge through work experience or by observing colleagues.
On-the-job training, also known as OJT, teaches employees the knowledge and skills they need to perform a particular role. There are some ways this can be done either by observing and shadowing colleagues, learning from a manager or occasionally an external provider may provider training if it involves specialised equipment.
Interacting and engaging with other team members not only helps create a team spirit but it will also give them the opportunity to learn how things are done, and perhaps how they can be improved. It gives them the opportunity to seek out the right individual if they have a particular question and chatting with co-workers from their own or other teams can give them the chance to pick up details that they weren’t previously aware of.
Informal training can also include attending events and conferences, which allow employees to network with other like-minded people, or those in the same industry. Also consider secondments to other departments, teams or projects.
Coaching and mentoring
Coaching and mentoring programmes give employees a one-on-one support system and as a result, they can feel motivated and empowered to perform to the best of their abilities.
By working with a coach or mentor employees can help set goals related to their current role and for their future career, and the coach or mentor is available to share his knowledge and expertise of the role, the industry and general career progression.
In some cases, the employees’ manager might act as the coach or mentor, but employees and the business can also see a positive effect by working with someone outside of the immediate team.
Attending training courses and seminars are the traditional forms of learning, but these days they can also be supplemented with online training and webinars to help employees develop new skills and gain new knowledge or qualifications.
When deciding which learning and development solution is right for their organisation, employers need to assess the costs and benefits of the different options available to them, as well as take into account employees’ learning styles. It’s important that employers find the right training methods for them and their staff, and perhaps take a more blended approach to learning, rather than relying on a single technique alone.