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Training and development are two concepts that go hand in hand. They however do not mean the same thing. While training refers to an organisational effort targeted at assisting employees to obtain the basic skills necessary for the efficient execution of the tasks for which they are hired, development deals with improving the level of service delivery from veteran employees. This is often done via activities undertaken to groom them to perform additional duties and assume positions of importance in the organisational hierarchy. Knowledge, skill training and development are an essential part of any organization’s human resource management strategy. It is a practice that pools training, organizational and career development efforts to bring about improvement of personal, group, and organizational performance.  Its aim is to enhance employee performance and productivity, which leads to employee and customer satisfaction as well as an increase in the profitability of the organization. The place of human resource training and development cannot be overlooked in the scheme of things within the organization. We presently live in an information age and organizations are consistently valued beyond their physical assets to their intellectual assets. Human resource training and development is thus one of the key ways to sustain and improve these assets. Consequently, the value of an organisation is reflected in the quality of its training programs. Untrained or poorly trained employees require considerably more support resources than well-trained employees do. Training also affects employee retention and is a valuable tool which, if viewed as an investment rather than as an expense, can produce high returns. Aside from the aforementioned, key benefits of training and development include:
  • Knowing that the organization cares about them enough to invest in training/developing them, employees will tend to work harder in order to return the favour. Hard work eventually leads to more earnings, and this might be in terms of production or even profit margins. Trained personnel will also ask for less help, ultimately improving their own efficiency further.
  • High employee turnover may be a serious threat to an organization’s existence. Skill training is an effective tool to combat that and retain your skilled workforce. A workforce that has been trained by the company will feel like part of the family and have a sense of self-worth and dignity as they will view themselves as more valuable to the organization, which will eventually culminate in higher job satisfaction. Consequently, a satisfied employee is more likely to remain within the firm. This will not only reduce the high cost of recruiting new staff but also have a positive impact on production.
  • Maximizing the potential of the workforce has a direct positive impact on the business or organization’s profit levels. A trained employee can handle more responsibility due to his freshly acquired knowledge, which in turn, improves the company’s efficiency. Proficiency in a particular area might even reduce chances of equipment breakdown as a result of human error, and therefore reduce the cost of maintenance.
  • The business world today is highly competitive and this is partly due to the advancements in technology. To stay afloat and have an edge in the market today a firm needs to have skilled and trained workers who are familiar with both the changes in technology and the changing tastes of the consumers. Training personnel in these new areas will improve the company’s strength and market presence.
The process of employee training and development can be approached from several different perspectives, some of which include: role playing, job rotation (cross exposure), on-the-job training, vestibule training (where employees are trained off their regular work spaces but in an environment similar to their work place), onsite training, conferences which allow employees to quickly develop skills on a number of topics, technical seminars which provide benefits similar to conferences but with less flexibility because of focused content, instructor-led online training, mentoring where the skills gap to be bridged is substantial, e-learning modules which allow for independent learning while exercises are repeatedly done to reinforce or refresh understanding of content, and embedded learning which helps employees learn through modules built into products or equipment. Embedded learning solutions are often customized to fit an organisation’s requirement. Conclusively, emphasis should be placed on results as it helps to connect training and development activities to performance. Beyond knowing how well a specific training class or course has been delivered, it is imperative to evaluate how the skills and knowledge gained from those activities have been applied. Then, perhaps most importantly, evaluate the impact they’ve had. The real benefit of employee training is not necessarily what they learn, but what they do with what they have learnt.

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This article was first published on 23rd April 2013

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