Last year companies spent $70 billion on training and development. But as much as businesses understand the importance of upskilling their employees, how effective is it? Can you actually see a return on your investment? That’s where strategic training and development initiatives are vital. It’s one thing to center on training but it’s quite another to have a clear strategy. So how can you make your program effective? Here are some initiatives to consider.
1. Learning management system
Probably the most important key to conducting training and development programs for employees successfully is how to go about your training. With newer generations like Millennials and Gen Z, they expect collaborative learning environments. And a great way to create this atmosphere is with a learning management system (LMS).
Using an LMS will enable all your training and development initiatives for employees to be housed in a single platform. This makes accessing files and programs easy and flexible depending on an employee’s schedule. Plus, an LMS can be set up to foster communication and learning among team members which will bode well for these new generational workers.
2. Industry conferences
No matter what industry you are in, there are conferences, seminars and talks pertaining to key topics. One of the great strategic training and development initiatives is to take advantage of these. If you are a larger company, consider signing up employees for one of these in-person conferences. Plus, there are also conferences to help managers learn better team management skills.
If you are a smaller company or even a start-up and have limited budget, there are many online or virtual conferences. These don’t come with the hotel and airfare fees and are still great options for gaining needed skills.
3. Professional organizations
There are memberships and industry organizations that can offer a wealth of information. By becoming members, your employees get access to webinars, white papers and more on key industry topics. This is one of the strategic training and development initiatives employees can invest in on their own time. By simply opting in for daily or weekly emails, employees can see what topics are trending and choose what to read to supplement their existing knowledge.
For topics that are more complex or require more dedicated time, industry books are great resources. Create a list of suggested books to read with download links, if available. You can then incentivize this initiative further by creating a company book club. Team members would read the same book and then discuss it over a dedicated time like a lunch and learn. Not only will this help enforce the topics learned, but it will offer different perspectives and collaboration between employees. This can further drive new key skills learned.
5. Mentorship program
Onboarding is a great way to get employees up and running within your organization. However, once they step foot in the door, it’s nice to have a more senior team member to provide answers casually. A mentorship program is one of the strategic training and development initiatives that can really integrate a new employee quickly. Mentors can help teach new skills and give the ins and outs unique to a given company. Plus, this relationship offers a fresh dynamic than a supervisor or a co-worker offering a different viewpoint that is often needed.
6. Guest speakers
While it’s important to hear from company leaders how the company is doing and to communicate key objectives, it’s equally as nice to listen to industry experts or even clients. These individuals can give advice on a certain subject matter, key skill or speak to challenges they experience on a day to day basis. This offers a different perspective and can help drive employee development. Plus, it will strengthen these outside relationships, making it a win for all involved.
7. Lunchtime learning sessions
Lunch and learn is another great idea for strategic training and development initiatives. Select a few topics that are beneficial to a wide group of employees and invite everyone to bring lunch while they listen. This is an informal way to train employees and also a great setting for peers to discuss what they have heard once the speaker is finished.