Andrew Purvis is the Training Manager at chemical contract manufacturer Chemoxy, a firm that has taken steps to establish their own staff development programme. Here he takes a look at five of the best ways that you can implement an engaging workforce training and development programme in your workplace.
When you’re running a business, you want your employees to be able to perform to the best of their abilities, so it’s essential that they get the right level of training to match. And, you’ll probably find that your workforce agrees: two in three employees believe that training is more important today than it was just two years ago, according to research by Totaljobs.
However, the same survey found that 90% of employees believed their employer should offer more training in the workplace, while 68% said that they had changed their job due to a lack of development opportunities, showing that many businesses are simply not getting this right.
At Chemoxy, we’re a great believer in investment in the workforce, and that’s why we’ve been running a dedicated professional development scheme within the firm for the last three years to great success. To help you get your own programme up and running, I’ve shared five ways to deliver engaging training in the workplace — read on to find out more.
Offer a pathway to worthwhile qualifications
When you’re looking to develop within the workplace, it can be encouraging to have a goal to work towards throughout your training. And, the opportunity to gain a qualification can be an excellent source of motivation to get your staff interested and engaged.
There is a plethora of professional development qualifications out there to choose from awarded by various training companies. Be sure to ask yourself a few questions before committing to one, such as: will this provide my employees with the right skills for the job? Is it widely recognised to help them in their careers? Will training be delivered in a way that suits my business? Once you’ve asked these key questions, you’ll be able to choose the right one for your workforce.
Tailor individual development plans
It’s important to remember that each of your employees is likely to be at a different stage of development in certain skill areas, so creating a tailored training plan for them is a great way of making sure that it matches their needs.
When everyone is at the same stage — for example, new product training — you will be able to deliver training across the board. But, taking this approach for all workplace development is likely to leave your employees disengaged, especially if they’ve already covered what’s being discussed or it’s beyond their current knowledge.
By creating individual plans and keeping them up to date for each of your workers, you will be able to see what they need to cover and what they’ve already received training on, avoiding any mishaps and ensuring that they continue to develop in the right direction.
Look further than the current job specification for skills
While it’s important to offer your employees training so that they’re able to excel in their job role, it’s often worth looking further than that job specification and seeing if there is room for them to expand their skillset and grow. Doing so will help your employees to feel fulfilled and that you’re interested in helping them further their development, leading to better job satisfaction.
Not only will an expanded skillset benefit your employee, but it can be a useful tactic when you’re looking to invest in your workforce and fill a skills gap that you currently have or will have further down the line. This way, you can futureproof your business while keeping your employees engaged with personal growth opportunities.
It’s also a great idea to offer extra training if you’re looking for someone to step up into a leadership role within your firm. That’s exactly what we did here at Chemoxy with our ‘Leading in the Process Industry’ development programme, which saw several of our staff members move to team leader roles to improve our operation. By offering this kind of training, you can ensure your workforce knows there is room for progression and that you’re willing to invest in them for the future.
Listen to what your workforce wants
When you’re thinking about what development opportunities to offer your workforce, it’s worth speaking directly to them to find out what they’d like to see offered or what training they think is essential. After all, they’re the ones who do the job every day, so they’re more likely to have the best insight into what skills they’re missing, need improving, or they’d like to gain.
While you don’t have to launch a full-scale enquiry into the topic, you can carry out the research subtly by bringing it up during staff appraisals or through a workplace satisfaction survey. Then, you can use your findings to inform your training choices and ensure that development opportunities are relevant to what your workforce needs.
Provide constructive feedback for your workforce
Feedback can be a very useful tool for keeping your workforce engaged with development, as long as it isn’t used simply as a tool to point out where they’re going wrong. Instead, aim to keep any feedback as constructive as possible, with helpful recommendations on how your employees can improve or develop their skills. This way, they will see it as another useful tool that is helping them to find the way forward to a better skillset.
You can also use feedback to inform how you track your employees’ progress. If you’ve prepared individual training plans for each member of your team, there’s an opportunity to revisit feedback that they’ve received and see if they’ve found it useful or whether they think more training is necessary. By engaging with your employees on the topic of their development, they’re more likely to see it as a worthwhile process and invest more themselves.
Take these five points that I’ve suggested on board and you have the framework to create an engaging workforce development programme for your own business.