This article was originally published on February 27, 2019.
Someone once told me many years ago that you should get started doing whatever it is you want to do because the year is going to pass, whether you do or not. I have made this a personal mantra and pass it on whenever I am coaching others to pursue their personal goals and aspirations.
It’s already February 2019 and for many of us the year started too quickly with us feverishly trying to tie up loose ends from 2018. For others, it was a slow start wrestling with prioritizing the barrage of tasks and demands that greeted us on our return to work. Now that we are in the second month of the year, hopefully you have identified your goals for the year and have devised a plan and a strategy to achieve those objectives.
For businesses this is generally the time to begin implementing ways to increase productivity and profits. If you are an astute businessperson, I would venture a guess that primary among your goals is increasing your bottom line. It may include expanding your business or diversifying your products or services. For others, the focus may be on debt reduction by collecting outstanding receivables or streamlining expenses. But, whatever strategy you decide to use to improve your performance in this new year, there is one more option you may wish to consider: investing in employee development training.
For many successful businesses, training is the secret tool that differentiates their products and services from their competitors. Ensuring that their employees continuously learn new skills and acquire practical and tacit knowledge is a strategy that these businesses deploy throughout the year to boost performance.
As an educator and a corporate training consultant, I can attest to the difference a trained employee makes on the level of productivity and efficiency in an organization. It is the difference between being simply “functional” on the job and being a producer, an initiator or an innovator.
Over the years I have consulted with employers who lamented the gap between employee competency and the skills needed in the workplace. Yet, some of these same employers struggle with the concept of increasing performance through increased employee capacity. Increasing capacity through employee training is not a novel idea; yet many companies continue to overlook it as a means to reduce costs. I have met many employers and employees who openly acknowledge that often little attention is given to employee development training. For them training is not always a priority as long as the employee can perform the basic functions on the job; but, if increasing your bottom line is the goal, it should be.
Recently, I spoke to a group of persons from various professional backgrounds on the importance of employee development training and was surprised to find that there are still persons who view training as a benefit redounding primarily to the staff member and not necessarily to the organization. While training does benefit employees by increasing their knowledge and skill sets, it also increases the company’s level of in-house expertise, necessary for increased competency and overall proficiency.
Another common complaint from employers is the risk of losing an employee in whom they have invested in training, who can then use that knowledge and expertise to benefit a competitor. I acknowledge that this is a valid concern. But I quickly counter this concern by reminding employers that the pendulum swings both ways. The risk of losing qualified employees to a competitor is an inherent risk in doing business. But just as an employee is free to seek other pastures, so are employers free to recruit other qualified and competent employees.
So, as you embark on your business strategies to achieve your goals for this new year, begin by reviewing the skills you will need to achieve those goals. Analyze your employees’ strengths and weaknesses to identify the training needed to fill any skill or competency gaps. View employee training as a human capital investment to enhance your business’ performance and your bottom line results. And finally, if you are truly interested in increasing productivity, growth and efficiency my advice is to begin by boosting your employees’ capacity and skills through employee development training. Consider investing in the people on whom you are relying to make it all happen – your employees!
• Dr. Barbara Rodgers-Newbold is the country head for the University of the West Indies Open Campus Bahamas, a corporate training consultant, the producer of the Practice of Leadership Series and a part-time college/university lecturer. She can be contacted at email@example.com.