Why is training such a dirty word? It’s time to embrace the chance to learn while we work

Is the view of ‘needing training’ one that isn’t helpful? Frances Jackson looks at the impact.

Research released by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), states that eight out of ten school leavers ‘lack essential business skills’ required for the workplace. The report also asserts that ‘more than 80% of young people require significant training’ before being able to work.

But don’t we all require training before we start something new? And is it healthy, or helpful, to consider training as a necessary evil? It’s surely time to see the chance to gain new skills as something positive, vital, and most importantly, regularly required within the workplace?

It’s not just school leavers and new joiners who need training and personal development, and research shows that without continuous processes in place to motivate and upskill workers, businesses risk losing the people they’ve worked so hard to attract and recruit.

The ‘on-boarding’ process, involving efforts to welcome and settle new employees into any role, is now widely accepted as a must-do practice across all types of business. New employees are expensive to recruit and take a long time to get up to speed and become profitable contributors.

Research we’ve conducted for leading corporate firms shows that a substantial number of new hires move on within the first six months of a new role, affecting retention rates and increasing recruiting budgets. Internal customers (like hiring managers, HR and team members) find recruiting tiresome and un-engaging, especially if the roles are high turnover.

On-boarding tools designed to introduce new hires to an organisation have become popular and are made available to new hires from the moment they accept an offer of work. While some organisations have done a great job, we see that most fail to reduce first day nerves, prepare users for productivity or improve retention rates.

These tools present the first opportunity for an organisation to have an impact with a new hire. It should engage, empower and connect the new joiner to the organisation before they start. It should reduce anxiety, set expectations and improve the user’s confidence before they start so they feel like they can make an active contribution from day one.

However, this level of commitment to employees shouldn’t stop at the on-boarding stage. It’s crucial for companies to see these initial processes as part of a much bigger, cultural habit, rather than a tick box exercise. Training staff and providing opportunities for them to learn new skills, develop their capabilities and carve themselves a clear career path, benefits both staff and businesses.

Employees who are given regular opportunities to further and widen their skill sets are likely to be more engaged, positive and likely to advocate the company to others. Firms will also get the best out of people when they invest the time and money into training which sharpens people’s abilities and allows them to worker more effectively and productively.

Research such as the CIMA’s is revealing, not only because it shows that businesses are more aware than ever of the need to hire and retain the right people with the right skills, but also because it exposes a widespread misconception that the need to train people is a negative thing.

We should view training as a constant, exciting opportunity in business, not a dull exercise or an inconvenience. Learning leads to empowerment for both businesses and individuals, and it’s time that we embraced this with open arms.


About the author

Frances Jackson is CEO at OPX, a design consultancy. You can contact Frances through www.opx.co.uk and on Twitter @OPX_London


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