3 tips to optimize training and development programs

Staff enrichment can boost engagement and retention, but your materials should reinforce your vision, provide practical career help and spur dialogue.

Professional development programs can be a potent weapon in the employee retention battle.

They can also be a waste of time.

From a company perspective, training and development programs are meant to improve overall performance, but a well-designed program can—and should—do just as much for the employee. By giving workers an avenue, opportunity and impetus to build skills, you affirm that you have a vested interest in them as individuals, which decreases the likelihood that they’ll take those talents elsewhere.

The type of individual who participates in career development programs is often one who welcomes more engagement. Reward this desire to learn, and make the most of the opportunity to create genuine connections with your workers.

Of course, training programs should be engaging and useful. If the material isn’t meaningful, relevant, compelling or well organized, you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

Here are three ways to optimize your training and development programs:

Communicate the “why.” Employees must be convinced that the time taken away from their jobs is justified. If they know up front what the training will entail, and how it will enhance their skillset or advance their career, they’ll be much more likely to see it as an opportunity rather than an obligation.

Bake in your corporate vision and values. The opportunity to assemble your best and brightest workers in one room doesn’t happen every day. Take the opportunity to reinforce the underpinnings of your organization. By emphasizing the importance of their roles in the big picture, you can create internal brand ambassadors. This is a great way to increase engagement, morale and retention.

Structure your program to create a feedback loop. Those who seek out extra training are often the leaders in your workforce, and they are a valuable source of information. Tap into their insight by giving them official channels to express their opinions. Ask for ideas and opinions on how to improve development programs, company operations and your overall culture. Show them that their voices can make a profound difference in how your company operates. Act on their suggestions and continuously seek their input on substantive matters.

If your workers see that their perspectives are valued, they’re more likely to stick around. They’re also more likely to make a positive impact on those around them.

Nick Miller is an account manager with Tribe, an internal communications agency based in Atlanta. A version of this post first appeared on Tribe’s blog.


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