Training’s Role in Employee Engagement – Ask HR Bartender

by Sharlyn Lauby on November 17, 2013

I received a question recently in response to my post on employee poaching.

How much influence over employee engagement do you think learning and development (L&D) departments actually have? 

First, let’s focus this post on only one aspect of L&D – training. I’m well aware that learning and development is comprised of more than just training. But the training part is about giving employees skills they can use in their current jobs. And engagement is about employees giving the maximum effort – also in their current jobs.

training, HR, Human Resources, policy, policies, communication, skill, behavior

So training departments should be offering programs that give employees the ability to perform at a high level. And if they do, then they are directly contributing to employee engagement. To hold training departments accountable for engagement, consider the following:

Existing programs should be linked to performance. L&D departments should review their content offerings to ensure they provide participants with the skills to perform at a higher level. That’s the purpose. Training isn’t entertainment. I’m all for having fun and using games during training too but not to the exclusion of learning.

Training delivery models need to be efficient. There’s never been a more exciting time to be in training. Participants can learn via smart phones, tablets as well as in classrooms. We can flip the classroom or flip the meeting to make best use of face time.

There must be a balance of training and development. Companies can’t spend all of their time focused on the future and ignore the present. Development programs are important. But it’s equally critical to address current training needs.

From new hire orientation to regular safety skills and everything in between, training departments play a critical role in employee engagement. And if you’re a small company without a dedicated training function, you still have to find a training partner. It might be a consultant or a local college that can provide regular workshops.

Companies cannot achieve high levels of engagement without training support.

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josh November 17, 2013 at 8:22 am

There are plenty of companies that ignore this whole “training and development thing” when making hiring decisions as they expect new hires to match a pre-fab checklist. It would be much more efficient if that within reason, companies hired for personality and fit , with the understanding that there is going to be a certain amount of learning and development investment to help bring this individual up to speed, and in the process creating a sense of engagement.

Sharlyn Lauby November 18, 2013 at 8:02 am

Hi Josh. Thanks for the comment. I believe as we see more conversations about the skills gap, companies will do exactly what you’ve mentioned – hire individuals knowing they have to make a training investment – to bridge the gap.

Tom Becks November 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Shaylyn, Great article! I believe that training is extremely important, especially in new hires. I have a web design business in West Palm Beach and am always training people on the best new internet marketing techniques.

My friend is corporate trainer for Oracle and I receive a lot of ideas and insight from him, having found you, I now have a second source of inspiration!

Thanks again.

Luke November 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I think that training and development is a huge thing to receive from any company as it means that you’re constantly developing and improving. With the company that I work at my wage goes up with the more qualifications that I gain..

I also have a good friend living in Australia (I live in the UK) and he gets time out each week for ‘self development’ where he gets to pretty much do anything he wants that relates to appropriate education.

Cindy Postanco November 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

Training is a really important thing that you can use to increase loyalty numbers and productivity. Plus, it is always an incentive for employees to get better, especially if obtaining a certification after a training session they get a raise.
You can use it along with other things to make sure that your employees are always up to date with current procedures, and are ready to take on new challenges when they arise without too much trouble.

Andy Williams December 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

Perhaps it is useful to remember that training departments to be supported in order to keep up with latest technology and training design, delivery and methods, too. Of course training departments are not the ONLY factor in ensuring employee engagement but need to be supported by top management as well as line managers. For all who are, like Sharlyn ”for having fun and using games” I suggest free trial of Wheeldo social and gamified learning platform . Good luck.

Jackie Kiadii December 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Training is one of the few investments, that if done properly, will reap a 100% ROI in record time. That’s why I don’t understand why training budgets are often one of the first to be cut. Excellent article, Sharlyn. I look forward to reading more.
Jackie Kiadii recently posted..Ask Jackie: How do I set a default date field in Access? | Access Tip – Table Macros

Sharlyn Lauby December 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Thanks everyone for keeping this conversation going. Obviously we all agree about the role of training. That leaves me wondering – if everyone “gets” the importance and value of training – then why aren’t we seeing more of it?

I just read Training Magazine’s 2013 Training Industry Report which shows total training expenditures down from 2013. Granted not by a lot ($55.4 billion compared to $55.8 in 2012). But the report also shows training expenditures per learner down ($881 from $1059 in 2012) and training hours per employee (37.5 from 41 in 2012).

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