Employee training and development isn’t just about teaching employees to do their jobs. It’s about showing employees they are valued and that upward movement in the organization is possible. When employees don’t see opportunity, they don’t bring their best selves to work.
“Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.”
It’s a proverb we all know — so common it’s become cliché. But clichés come from truth. Amid the busyness of running a business, it can be easy to forget the importance of good training. How often have you said, “I’ll do it myself” because teaching someone else seemed too time-consuming? But how often are you frustrated the next time that same task comes around and you have to do it yourself again?
Of course, employee training isn’t just about delegating or making things easier for management. A solid and unique training and development program can give employees a sense of ownership in their role and a future vision with the organization. And when companies don’t invest in learning and development and create paths for growth (beyond pay bumps), employees will start looking for jobs elsewhere.
In fact, in a 2021 Pew Research Study, 63% of respondents said no opportunities for advancement is what pushed them out the door. Lack of growth opportunities was the top reason for leaving – above pay, benefits, and workplace flexibility.
63% of employees cite no opportunities for advancement as the top reason they quit.
“Employees view it as a way of support,” says Julian Lute, senior manager and strategic advisor with Great Place To Work®. “You’re assisting them in doing their jobs. But if you go one level deeper, you’re also supporting this very human need for growth. When people don’t see themselves growing, you don’t get the best out of them.”
What is an employee training and development program?
An employee training and development program is a series of educational activities designed to improve employees’ knowledge and skills.
The most obvious type of employee training is technical training — teaching them their job duties, the company’s processes and systems, and the organization’s overarching mission and mandate. But training can also cover soft skills such as people management or upskilling beyond an employee’s current role to prepare them for a promotion.
Employee training can take many different forms, such as group workshops, one-on-one sessions, formal education (e.g., college or university), job shadowing, mentorship, seminars, or job sharing.
Why it’s important to train and develop your employees
Employee training and development is important for ensuring that staff are prepared for their role; that they feel supported, valued, and capable; and that they have upward movement. Training and development can have a direct impact on employee engagement and retention and should be an integral part of your talent management strategy.
Engaged employees want to grow, and they want to be challenged. They aren’t looking to simply work at a job; they are looking to further their careers.
Employee training and development is both present- and future-focused. Employee learning programs support your people in meeting the challenges of the business, today. And employee learning programs create a pipeline of leaders to meet the societal and technological challenges of tomorrow.
Julian says employee training also ensures people feel valued, and feel that their employer sees them playing a role in the long term. This feeds into the overall company culture. In fact, in our survey of employees at the 2023 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®, 87% said they often or always feel like they are offered training and resources to develop professionally.
“This is the way that people feel valued in the business,” Julian explains. “If you’re training me, you’re telling me that you want me to be prepared for the future of the organization.”
Training fuels recruitment
Given the basic human desire for growth that Julian mentioned, companies that are seeking top talent would be wise to promote their training and development efforts. Featuring opportunities for growth and development as major benefits in its EVP demonstrates an employer’s commitment.
Use your career site to highlight your company’s opportunities for professional growth and development — whether it be challenging work assignments, a strong investment in training and development programs, frequent opportunities to work closely with senior leaders, or a commitment to promoting from within.
“Even if you don’t know where people want to be in their life or what’s important to them, I guarantee you there is something at the end of the rainbow for them,” says Julian. “And training and development is the way that people feel valued.”
Developing by building an internal talent marketplace
Some organizations are helping employee advance with an internal talent marketplace. An internal talent marketplace is a platform or system within an organization that facilitates identifying, developing, and retaining top talent by providing employees with opportunities for growth and career advancement.
This marketplace enables employees to explore different roles, projects, or positions within the company, promoting internal mobility, skill development, and cross-functional collaboration. By creating an internal talent marketplace, organizations can better retain talent, improve employee satisfaction, and enhance their overall agility while reducing the need for external hiring.
Providing employee training and development opportunities can enhance job satisfaction, boost productivity, and improve employee retention. Equipping employees with new skills and knowledge increases their potential for advancement within the company. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Are your learning and development programs hitting the mark?
One way you can measure and track the success of your training and development programs, as well as other areas of company culture, is by pursuing Great Place To Work Certification. The results of our research-backed Trust Index™ survey can show you exactly where to put your culture resources.
Claire is our Senior Content Marketing Manager. Claire works with Great Place to Work data and company culture experts to distil the psychology of high-trust workplaces. Claire co-authored the Women in the Workplace report and her profiles of Best Workplaces™ have been featured in Fortune. When Claire’s not sifting through our 28+ years of survey data, she’s rolling out her yoga mat or daydreaming about her next U.S. road trip.