A company’s human resources is arguably its greatest asset. In order to get the most out of its physical assets, both in terms of output and longevity, a company will invest in maintenance and repair, on a regularly scheduled basis, of these assets. Indeed, there is a separate item on a company’s accounts for ‘Maintenance and Repair’. As an asset, human resources should be no different. In fact, an even greater investment should be made, to ensure employees’ skill sets are modernised, their abilities sharpened, their capabilities constantly assessed and improved upon, allowing them to give of their best.
Further, studies have shown that employees place great value in training and development, making it a major factor in their decision to seek employment in, or stay with, an organisation.
The benefits of training and development accrue ultimately to the organisation, contributing in no small measure to its success, and to the benefit of the customers it serves.
What is Training and Development
While there is a difference between training and development, both are necessary and are conducted in tandem with each other to help employees excel. Training helps employees with specific knowledge or skills to enhance performance in current assignments, whereas development focuses on employee growth and future performance.
Training gives employees the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the duties and responsibilities specific to a company. While most if not all employees will enter an organisation with a set of abilities – it is for this that they were hired – in order for them to function within the organisation, with its specific tasks, customers, culture, systems, teams and team dynamics, goals and strategic plans, training becomes necessary. It is a way to prepare staff for their responsibilities, and to boost their confidence and ability to carry out these responsibilities competently and effectively. Put quite simply, employees that know more can bring more to the organisation.
Given the focus of development on an employee’s personal growth and future performance within an organisation, development prepares employees for upward movement, allowing them to assume greater responsibilities within an organisation, and at the same time, freeing management to do what they should be doing, which is, thinking and planning.
What are the Benefits of Training and Development
There are several benefits of training and development, redounding to employees, management and the wider organisation. Training and development can help an organisation:
- Maintain competitiveness:
Training allows an organisation to keep up with changes in its industry, as well as with changes in technology, and to stay ahead of its competitors – a company that refuses to adapt in an ever changing industry is going to eventually die. As consumers’ tastes and preferences change, an industry has to evolve to respond to these changes; it must continually develop if it is to avoid becoming archaic and uncompetitive in a modern world. Staff’s knowledge and competencies must be kept current in line with, and as part of, a company’s growth and development.
Similarly, new technology is being developed constantly. Staff must be able to use the latest technological advances with ease and to the fullest. Training in such technologies will ensure this.
- Secure and retain top talent:
Training can help an organisation secure the best talent on the jobs market. Studies have shown that millennials, for example, want opportunities for advancement, and the ability to learn and grow, in the companies in which they work. Training and development therefore can serve to bring young minds with their fresh ideas to an organisation.
Not solely millennials however; other studies have shown the importance opportunities for advancement have on employees. One such study, conducted in Barbados with 440 employees, 91.3% of those polled indicated that they would leave their current job to work for an organisation that offered the same salary but better opportunities for career advancement. The aim, however, is not just to secure, but to retain staff; an employee will more likely stay with an organisation in which he or she can be trained and developed for advancement. The study previously cited indicated that 38.7% of those polled left a company because there was little or no upward mobility.
- Increase levels of job satisfaction and maintain low employee turnover:
Related to 2 above, should training be provided as part of a longer term development and advancement pathway, where new skills can be continuously learned and put into practice, employees will be much more satisfied in their jobs. They will be more motivated to perform, and will have more incentive to stay with the organisation. Productivity will be increased and employee turnover will be at a minimum.
- Allow for internal promotion and succession planning:
The cost of recruiting new staff can be high, measured both in terms of time and money. With continuous training and development, existing staff are more likely to become eligible for promotions and higher positions with more responsibility. This serves to reduce this recruitment cost, demonstrate the career development opportunities within the organisation and boost staff morale. Further, existing staff will have a complete knowledge of an organisation, will have the right skills for higher positions, having been properly trained in that regard, and would have already proven themselves as being both trustworthy and capable.
- Lead to planning and continuous assessment at the organisational level:
Training and development will ensure a company engages in planning and continuous assessment, constantly looking at where it is, where it wants to go, and what it needs to remain a viable player in its industry. It ensures an organisation keeps up with industry trends because training and development is not done in a vacuum. It is tied to the needs of the organisation, as training and development support the organisation in achieving its strategic goals. In this regard, training and development also allows for weaknesses to be addressed, both for employees and for the organisation as a whole.
- Contribute to employee empowerment and team building:
Training and development leads to improvement in an employee’s confidence, capabilities and competence. This is the first step in empowering employees. Employees will feel they have the support of management and will feel enabled to some degree (though it should be noted that training and development is only one step in empowering employees). Further, training employees as groups can promote team building and team work, thereby enhancing team performance.
While it is questionable to liken staff to the physical assets of a company, it is in this regard that the argument is made for the training and development of staff, at all levels. Assets, including human resources, must be maintained to ensure longevity, performance, productivity, efficiency and effectiveness, all with the aim of achieving the long-term strategic goals and objectives of an organisation, and maintaining its competiveness.