Justine Morgan, General Manager: Marketing
Companies need to understand the value of training their employees. Quality training is critical to increase productivity and decrease staff turnover and the need for supervision by making staff more self-reliant.
Training helps increase job satisfaction, morale, and motivation among employees – a happy workforce is a productive workforce. In addition, training increases the well-being of employees and reduces absenteeism, mistakes, and stress in the workplace.
In the case of IT implementations, the highest return on investment is proven to be in organisations that ensure that their employees adopt a new software solution by implementing a change management plan alongside a new deployment or implementation. This plan includes employee training. Empowering all future users in the company with the skills needed to utilise the systems will not only ensure a smooth transition but will also see employees getting the full value out of the solution.
Despite this, a challenging economic environment means training is often the first to go when budgets are cut.
This is not unique to large organisations. Every decision-maker is faced with how best to spend resources (like time and money) to keep training staff while the pressure to perform in a competitive market increases on an almost daily basis. Many argue that employees cannot afford to take time out of their day-to-day tasks to complete training as hitting profit margins are critical.
However, to ensure the success of software implementations, organisations need to commit to enabling the growth of their employees.
It is imperative for organisations to set aside budget for training when implementing an IT solution. The potential impact for a solution is greatly lessened if users aren’t correctly trained on how to use the system.
In order for initiatives to be successful, organisations could consider tying an element of performance bonus to the achievement of learning goals. At solution go-live, the employee and his or her manager should meet to determine learning goals. These then need to be assessed regularly. The manager knows what to budget for from a training perspective and the employee knows to allocate time to realise specific learning goals in order to achieve a percentage of their performance bonus.
In order to overcome time and budget constraints, organisations are looking to both online and classroom training. Each method of training has advantages, and it is important to weigh up the benefits of each. E-learning has the benefit of being flexible from a time perspective. However, in classroom training the employee has the benefit of being able to draw a lot from experienced trainers, more so than online content.
Many organisations are adapting the best of both models, using elearning to teach the basics and classroom training with specialists to educate employees on advanced features and functionality to enhance their user experience.
One element that is being increasingly instituted is the concept of knowledge sharing within the organisation. A collaboration portal such as SharePoint allows employees across the organisation to benefit from their colleagues experience, ask questions and search for relevant contextual content. This supplements the more traditional methods of training.
Irrespective of the approach used, companies need to be more mindful of maintaining short-term growth while still taking a long view of employee satisfaction and skills equity. They need to consider the high cost of a solution not having sufficient uptake, or being poorly used and having a demotivating effect. It might not be easy, but the potential rewards of investing in their people far outweigh the risks.