Job skills training and employee development enables organizations to strengthen their departments and remain competitive. A well-planned training and development program helps to engage employees, improve retention, fill skill gaps, and is critical to business success. Many organizations don’t place enough importance on employee training which leads to high staff turnover and an unengaged workforce.

The demand for job skills training is growing. The global workplace training industry market size increased from 355.6 billion US dollars to 370.3 billion US dollars from 2015 to 2019 with a slight drop in 2020 to 357.7 billion US dollars due to the impact of COVID. Yet, many employees state they do not receive the training they need to succeed. According to eLearning Industry Training Statistics released in 2021:

  • Nearly 59% of employees claim they had no workplace training and the skills they had were self-taught
  • 74% of employees feel they aren’t reaching their full potential at work due to a lack of development opportunities
  • 70% of employees would be somewhat likely to leave their current job to work for an organization known for investing in employee development and learning

Although the global workplace training market is growing, without necessary job skills alignment, training can fail to meet the desired outcomes. It’s important that training initiatives meet the business goals and that employees receive incentivizing awards for their efforts to positively impact both the organization and its employees. 

The importance of employee development

Effective employee training contributes to increased competency and expands the knowledge base of the organization. It meets the demands of today’s workforce for opportunities to learn and grow and leads to a happier, engaged, and productive workplace.

The 2021 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report supports the growing importance of learning and development with 64% of L&D professionals and HR roles agreeing that L&D has progressed from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’. 

Further reasons for the importance of employee development programs include:

Preparing Employees for Higher Responsibilities 

Training programs and employee development help prepare employees to progress in their role and the organization and take on additional responsibilities. Job skills training ensures they have the knowledge and confidence to function effectively in their new role. For example, this may include soft skill development such as management training or leadership skills or developing hard skills in a certain software or tool that supports their role. 

Meeting Recommendations of Performance Reviews

Regular performance reviews and feedback are necessary to maintain an engaged workforce. Often these reviews set goals for employees to work towards to better their performance or take the next step in their role. Employee development programs help employees to achieve these goals by improving their knowledge in a specific subject or their ability in a specific skill. By offering training, employees understand the steps they need to take to achieve success rather than having to guess what they should do next.

Showing Employees They Are Valued

Through implementation of training and providing access to development programs, employees see that the organization is invested in them. As their skills and abilities improve they will feel like a more productive member of the team and be able to work more efficiently. This also impacts staff morale and promotes loyalty from staff. 

The benefits of job skills training programs

Training programs are an investment for an organization but without it, there is a high chance they would need to spend more on the recruiting and onboarding process. Organizations that have a strong learning culture improve their employee retention rates by between 30-50%. In comparison, organizations with a poor onboarding process are twice as likely to experience staff turnover. 

Employee retention is just one key benefit and organizations should consider investing in training to also benefit from:

Increased Efficiency

As previously mentioned, almost three-quarters of employees feel they aren’t reaching their full potential in their role. Job skills training that aligns with business needs helps employees to improve their efficiency and also positively impacts customer satisfaction as services are delivered faster. Employees that feel successful in their role have more confidence and complete tasks more effectively, which maximizes the return on investment for the organization. 

Reduced Hiring Costs

Retention is important as it reduces the amount of hiring that organizations need to do and encourages organizations to promote within. On average, it costs organizations between $4,000 - $6,000 to hire an entry-level employee, which can increase dramatically for highly trained executive level roles. In comparison, during 2020 organizations spent on average around $1,200 per employee for training and development. 

Better Retention and Growth of Customer Base

Hiring is costly but so is the process of trying to win new customers when compared to maintaining existing customers. Increased efficiency and improved employee morale impacts both employee and customer retention. Customers that have higher levels of satisfaction are more likely to remain with the organization. They are also likely to provide word-of-mouth referrals to contacts within their network and bring in new business. 

How to align job skills training to business needs

Training that is aligned with business needs ensures staff are fully prepared to carry out the strategy while focused on the key goals and prevents wasting training spend. Follow the below 7-step process to maintain a measurable, effective training program that will guide your staff to success. 

Define Business Goals

Before any training programs are implemented, it’s important to define the business goals. This helps to prevent training ‘just for the sake of it’ and ensures a return on investment. For example, if you are trying to expand the knowledge base of your workforce, training on value propositions is needed. If the aim is to improve employee engagement, leadership or management training is required for managers and team leaders. 

Developing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) can help to assess the effectiveness of training efforts. KPIs provide measurable progress towards a specific objective or goal and make it easy to check in on training performance over time. KPIs can be clearly defined by applying SMART criteria; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. This helps to keep everyone on the right path to success and provides clarity around business objectives. 

Assess Skill Gaps

With the business objectives in mind, skill gaps can be identified by assessing how well employees are performing against the defined goals. This process is known as a ‘training needs analysis’ or a ‘training needs assessment’ and includes three types of assessment: organizational assessments, occupational assessments, and individual assessments. 

Organizational Assessment

To analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the whole organization and highlight any discrepancies. The organizational assessment identifies where in the organization that training is required and if the training will be effective to bridge the gaps. 

Occupational Assessment

To analyze and evaluate the competencies, skills, and key tasks that are required to perform a particular job function or role. Occupational assessments are used to identify the key skills and behaviors that must be achieved through training to ensure success in the target role. 

Individual Assessment

A focused analysis and evaluation of an individual to determine how well they are performing and if they have the competencies to perform their role to the best of their ability. Individual assessments identify whether the employee has the right skills and knowledge and what training is required to gain the necessary skills. 

Assessments can be carried out in several ways, through tests, observation, in 1:1 meetings with managers, surveys, or a combination of these methods. Once the gaps have been identified, it becomes easier to direct the training goals and development objectives. 

Set Training Objectives

After completing assessments and understanding who will be receiving training, it’s time to set clear goals for the training initiative. Goals need to align to the gaps that were previously identified and should be specific to the current knowledge, skills, and competencies of the workforce. The outcome of setting training objectives is to determine what employees will gain through successfully completing training, how they will demonstrate or show what they’ve gained, and how this will be measured over time. 

Setting OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) give employees accountability for their growth and makes it easier for them to remain on track. OKRs are a goal setting framework that defines the target goal to achieve and the metrics that will be used to measure progress towards that goal. For example, an objective of ‘increasing team engagement’ might include key results for ‘increasing team member engagement scores from 80% to 90%’, 'reducing the number of team complaints from 5 to 1’, and ‘ensure 100% of team members receive feedback within the quarter’. OKRs, like KPIs, should be built based on SMART goal criteria.

Communicate Training Expectations

Before launching the training strategy, it’s important to communicate the expectations of training. Provide an overview that covers the purpose of receiving training, why training is needed, and who will be receiving training. Inform the organization how training will align to business needs and what the anticipated outcomes will be. 

It’s also important to set individual performance goals so employees remain motivated to achieve their training outcomes. Explain to employees how training will help them to perform better in their role, what opportunities training will create, and how their growth will benefit both their team and the organization. Effective communication ensures everyone is on the same page and is motivated to work towards a common goal. 

Deliver the Right Training

The right type of training will depend on the individual preferences and needs of learners. It should be engaging with opportunities for employees to demonstrate or use their new skills or knowledge in their role. Gamified training that is interactive is often more effective for learners than traditional lecture formats and is commonly available as self-guided learning. This lets learners move at their own pace around their current responsibilities. 

There are many different platforms for learning and training services available but it’s important that staff have something of value to show for their efforts once training is completed. Learners are increasingly seeking opportunities where they receive a digital badge or certificate that they can add to their personal portfolio. This also makes it easier for organizations to identify future gaps or help employees move into different roles based on their verifiable skills or knowledge. 

Staff should also have opportunities to engage in community learning. This is good for sharing knowledge and enhancing knowledge retention. It is particularly impactful for remote teams that may be feeling disconnected with their leaders or teams and provide employees a better sense of belonging. 

Record Learning Outcomes

Once training is underway and staff begin to complete their learning objectives, it’s important to give staff an opportunity to document what they have gained through the experience. This can take place informally in 1:1s with managers to discuss what has been learned, what skills have been gained, and where additional training is required. A more formal strategy approach known as knowledge management can also be utilized. Knowledge management is an effective way for employees to record their learning outcomes and present their new knowledge for others to benefit from. This can be presented in written form such as creating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) or more engaging forms like video. 

Recording learning outcomes is another way of improving knowledge retention but it also helps employees identify where areas may be lacking and require further training. Effective training leads to the creation of high-quality knowledge management assets. These become useful for future teams and provide a set of followable best practices that align to the business goals. 

Assess and Measure Growth

The final step is to measure and assess how effective training has been for employees. This should take place throughout the learning experience in addition to after training initiatives have been completed. Meet with employees to determine if they have gained the skills and knowledge required to improve their performance, evaluate the improvement in performance, and establish how these efforts can be applied in the future. This helps to justify the costs of training in both time and spend, and if teams are closer to achieving the overall business goals. 

By assessing the outcomes, weak areas can be identified and adjusted accordingly. The process can then be repeated successfully in the future to promote continuing education and improvement. 

Maintaining employee development with digital credentials

Engagement in employee development is necessary for success and digital credentials are a great way to keep learners engaged and motivated. Digital credentials are awarded to employees that complete their training and detail what they have gained, their demonstrable skills, and how valuable the program is. Organizations can use digital credentials to identify skill gaps across their teams and departments and where additional training is required to meet business goals. With the ability to set expiration dates it's easier for organizations to track and ensure employees keep their knowledge up-to-date. 

Digital credentials motivate employees to complete their training and gamify the learning experience through micro-credentials that provide regular rewards and recognition. Employees can then use their digital credentials to showcase their competencies during performance reviews. Additionally, the shareability of digital credentials increases visibility of how the organization invests in their staff to potential job seekers, making open roles more attractive. Recipients can share their digital credentials to social media, upload to their LinkedIn profile, and embed into email signatures.

In Summary

Employee development and job skills training is necessary to achieve business goals but it’s important to recognize the growth that employees achieve and reward their efforts. The current workforce is placing a greater importance on learning and development opportunities in their role. Organizations that neglect this risk facing greater turnover and reduced engagement from their staff. 

To learn more about utilizing digital credentials as part of employee development and to incentivize growth, contact sales or request a platform demo to see digital credentials in action.

Further Reading

Download our Bridging the Gap Between Education and Employment guide to learn how issuers can use digital credentials to empower candidates to pursue career-advancing credentials that improve their employability and promotional prospects. Use this guide to:

• Ensure issued digital credentials stand out from competitors

• Support recipients to find employment and promotion opportunities

• Create targeted program offerings that are more attractive to candidates

• Build and maintain talent pipelines to improve partnerships with employers

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