It’s no secret; engaged employees are productive and happy employees. And we’re not just saying that—highly engaged employees are 17% more productive, feel more invested in the work they do, and understand that they’re a valued part of the company. If you were able to help even a portion of your workforce to feel more engaged throughout the day or week, you’d see a significant return on your investment.
But how do you do that? Learning the theory of engagement is all well and good, but without practical knowledge of the right tools and strategies, your teams are likely to join the 80% of employees who feel disengaged at work.
Luckily, you can choose from myriad strategies and tools, such as rewards, recognition, or activities to boost engagement. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. We’re here to help. The focus of this post is a strategy known as training and development (T&D), sometimes referred to as learning and development.
If you’d like to see specific ways T&D will help your employees stay engaged and motivated, what are you waiting for? Dig in!
Employee Engagement Through Training and Development
Before we dive in, let’s cover exactly what training and development means. Training and development is a broad term that covers basically any opportunity to learn a new skill or develop a person’s career. Whether that means soft skills, such as communication or collaboration, or hard skills, such as woodworking or coding, training and development gives employees a chance to strengthen their skills, develop their interests, and (you guessed it) feel more engaged at work.
Would you feel more excited to come to work knowing your nose has another eight hours stuck to the grindstone? Or more excited knowing that you have a unique opportunity to receive training that your nose has been looking forward to (do I smell a baking class?) to break up the monotony?
With these learning and career development opportunities, your employees will engage more in their present work and their future growth at your company. After all, a whopping 87% of millennials state that professional development is an important part of their job, and there’s a good chance that millennials make up at least 35% of your workforce at this point. Engaging them (and all employees) should be top-of-mind for all HR leaders.
If you still need some convincing that these programs are worth your time, let’s take a look at some extra benefits you may see from implementing this engagement strategy.
Reaping the Benefits of Employee Training and Development
Engagement is the end-all goal that you’re shooting for, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only thing that increases when you offer T&D options. In fact, you can expect to see a host of benefits throughout your workforce that you may not even know you need.
Improve Employee Retention
When you show a tangible interest in the interests, development, and success of your employees, they will be more able and more willing to work toward accomplishing their personal growth goals. After all, with manager and HR encouragement, employees will feel that their development is a priority, even at work.
Consequently, their commitment to the company and its goals will grow as well, which will improve retention rates in your organization. Employees are much less likely to leave a company where they feel that they can expand their skills and further their career in a safe, collaborative, and supportive environment.
Future-Proof Your Business
As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change (well, and taxes, but we try not to talk about those too much). Your business will change and adapt to the ever-variable market, no matter which industry you’re in. You need a workforce that can rapidly adapt as well. What happens if an executive in your company leaves abruptly for one reason or another? You don’t need to panic because you provided that series of leadership training for your employees! What happens when a global pandemic shuts down in-person collaboration? Lucky your employees had training to develop their communication skills, huh?
This is a double-whammy. With the right opportunities for growth and development, employees will feel more valued and confident in their abilities and work. But wait, there’s more! A confident, skilled, and engaged workforce will inevitably lead to increased productivity and hit a higher standard of work, which brings in greater profit. As you empower your employees with T&D, they can empower your company with stellar work. It’s the perfect cycle.
You could even take the cycle a step further and reward employees for both their participation in T&D and their performance, which leads to a sustained effort to achieve excellence. And nothing shows your appreciation more than letting your employees choose their own rewards!
Foster Workplace Relationships
According to Gallup, both women and men who say that they have a best friend at work perform better and are more engaged. However, only 20% of employees claim to have a best friend at work. You may think that chatting during breaks or taking the occasional longer lunch won’t help your bottom line, but if encouraging friendships can increase performance, you may be surprised at the benefits.
Training and development programs are a great way to help employees build those vital relationships with each other. As teams work together to refine their skills, expand their knowledge, and explore new ideas, they can strengthen their bonds together. These opportunities for peer collaboration aren’t common enough in the workplace, but with the right programs in place, your workers can become more than just employees; they can become a team.
Programs for Training and Development
We don’t want you to assume that you need constant, extremely intricate training sessions that teach all sorts of diverse skills. That can be daunting to even the most stalwart of engagement idealists. Our goal is to help you see that you can make continual learning and development an easy part of everyday work.
Onboarding and Orientation
Yes, these two trainings count as T&D. After all, in both the initial orientation and the longer onboarding process, your hope is to teach new employees how to succeed at your company. But instead of only going over the basics of what your company does, where the employees will sit, and the nitty gritty details of benefits and policies, consider making the training more engaging and transformative.
For example, if sales is a large part of your business, and you hire a new group of salespeople, think about training you can provide that will help them hit the ground running. Sales strategies training from a manager, communication development, or even leadership training from someone higher up in the business can help make each new employee’s transition easier and build their confidence.
A great example of this strategy is Amazon. They begin the development process before onboarding even begins! They provide leadership, team building, and skill training for a month before each employee sets foot in the door. They also provide skill training for any new remote workers to help them stay productive and efficient while working from home, which is a great idea for any company with remote workers.
Products and Services
Whether this is part of the onboarding process or a refresher for older employees, you have a great chance to increase employee engagement with products and services training. Create fun ways to reacquaint your workforce with your company’s offerings. Really hit on the benefits and features that make your company stand apart, and your employees will start to take pride in the work that they do.
Hard and Soft Skills
Here, the only limit is your imagination. Technical skills are a great offering that shows employees you care about their personal development. Training opportunities for writing, coding, programming, finances, social media, or other relevant skills will help keep employees engaged as they further their goals.
Soft skills are even more far-reaching because everyone needs them in both professional and casual settings. Hold training programs for communication, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, conflict resolution, or time management. These types of training are great at building reliable, respectful, and efficient employees.
AT&T has a great program for both of these types of skills. Their executives lead training programs on leadership and management to help prepare future leaders. In addition, they’ve created their own Master of Science degree program that allows employees to learn more high-level skills such as programming, data analytics, or software development.
With so many programs to choose from, you can create a training and development program that suits your needs and your employees wishes. From orientation for new hires to soft skills for old hats, keep your employees engaged with the skills they need to succeed.
Employee Perception of Training and Development
Now for a short disclaimer. Not every employee will jump at the chance to learn a new skill or further their career. And that’s okay! As we mentioned before, 80% of millennials want learning opportunities in their career, and they’re not an outlier. A good number of employees want a chance to deepen their knowledge, improve their skills, and further their goals. You can even try to incentivize your employees with opportunities to earn rewards for participation!
As long as you surround your development training with an air of excitement and encourage (don’t force!) employees to take part, you’ll see the aforementioned benefits sooner rather than later.