Use Employee Training Program to Build Loyalty and Competitive Advantage

It is not uncommon that the training budget is one of the first to go when times get tough. So while your company may not be putting too much effort into professional development right now, there are actually some very compelling reasons why training should be a part of your recession plan.

If you’re spending less time on hiring these days, this may be an ideal time for your HR team to focus on making sure employees have the skills and thinking to stay one up on the competition.

So while your competitors are taking a time out on professional growth as they deal with the recession, you can begin to rally support for a plan to make your workplace more competitive.

The first – and most important – thing you need to do is win the support of your Executive Team. You need to make sure your project has support from the CEO down. Once you present the benefits of a training program, I can guarantee you this will not be a hard sell. Implemented correctly, a training program can:

Generate goodwill and loyalty among employees. Employees appreciate being invested in and reciprocate with commitment and increased engagement in the company’s future.
Improve employee performance with fewer errors and delays, better team work, and more focus on internal best practices.
Make it easier to attract and retain good people. Opportunities for professional growth are one of the top reasons for staying with a company. Plus, a training program adds to your reputation as a great place to work.

You will also want to demonstrate to your CEO how your training program supports company business objectives. For example, if your account managers are the first line of defense for managing client complaints, could they benefit from training to finesse their ability to deal with difficult situations and solve unexpected problems?

Once you get the green light to go ahead with your plan, the next big step is to come up with a measurement to gauge the success of your training program. These metrics must be totally meaningful to the Executive Team. In other words, will training those account managers directly impact customer satisfaction and repeat business? Those are the kind of measurements all CEOs appreciate and get excited about.

Your next challenge is recruiting trainers. Of course right now you want to keep your costs bare bones and recruit from within. This is not as daunting as it seems and you may be surprised at how many willing subject matter experts you have within your ranks. Finding instructors for my company’s “Geneca University” was relatively easy since people are quite willing these days to try on new roles and make themselves more visible.

Another advantage of using internal trainers is that it is easier for inside people to link the training to projects and situations that are truly relevant for your company. Many of the volunteer instructors participating in Geneca University did not have much trainer experience so it has been inspirational to see so many of them thinking “outside the box” to design sessions that keep all of us motivated about learning.

By brainstorming with your peers, you will uncover many ways that a training program aligned with your company’s business goals can help your firm be more successful.

As director of Resource Management at Geneca, Mike Denton’s mission is to ensure only the smartest, most passionate people join Geneca and that they achieve their goals. Geneca was named one of Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Contact Mike at [email protected]