Your Comprehensive Guide to HR and Employee Training and Development
by Employers Council Staff
HR Expertise and Support, Organizational Development, Training and Development
Training and development is no longer a nice-to-have perk at work. It’s an essential tool both employers and employees need to navigate the new workplace landscape. Consider this:
- 60 percent of millennials are demanding leadership development from their employers.
- 76 percent of workers prefer companies who help their employees build their skills.
- 74 percent of employees say they they need more training to reach their full potential.1
Marnel Mola, SPHR, PHR-CA, SHRM-SCP, Director of Corporate Training and Events at Employers Council, is well versed in the importance of opportunities to learn at work, and the challenges HR professionals face when creating strategic training and development plans. As a one-person HR department at a member organization, she was grateful for Employers Council’s support services. Marnel started working as an HR consultant for Employers Council in 2005, and she took on the challenge of running Employers Council’s training department in 2020.
“Ultimately, our goal is to provide training and development opportunities to support organizations and help them create exceptional workplaces,” Marnel said. “We approach everything with that lens. My goal is to deliver relevant training content in a variety of ways, so there are options and choices to help employers grow their organizations.”
A strong training and development program can help HR professionals support their organization’s goals, retain and engage employees, and develop talent to fill in skill gaps. This guide will help HR professionals contextualize workplace learning in the current employment environment and walk through the steps needed to create a training and development plan that can take organizations into the future.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Training and development challenges for employers
- Benefits of employee and HR training
- Types of employee training
- Crucial training touchpoints
- Planning for training and development
- Cost of outsourced HR and employee training
- How to choose a training partner
- What makes training from Employers Council different?
Employer Challenges that Signal a Need for More Training and Development
Who needs training? The short answer is everyone! But there are specific red flags that suggest your organization might need to reevaluate its training strategies. If you are running into these roadblocks, it’s time to up your investment in development:
You’re not meeting your departmental or organizational goals
Very simply, if you are not where you want to be, it’s time to ask some questions about what might need to happen to get the organization back on track. “Are you meeting your goals?” Marnel asked. “Where are the shortfalls? We’re not getting to where we’re hoping to get…so what’s happening?”
The best training plans are based on concrete individual, departmental and/or company-wide goals. Being clear on where expectations aren’t being met can help HR professionals zero in on training solutions.
You’re having compliance issues
Legal costs and violation fines can burden an organization’s bottom line. Upfront investment in training is almost always less expensive than the financial fall-out from regulatory mistakes. Look for training that not only addresses your current compliance issues but can help employees face future conundrums with confidence.
You’re getting repeated complaints about a specific individual or department
Marnel cautions that not every problem can be solved with training…but many can! If you have underperforming employees or teams, first ask yourself if the problem is simply lack of knowledge or learning support. Can a more thoughtful development plan change the dynamics?
You’re having trouble recruiting the talent you need
One of the biggest challenges facing employers today is finding the right people to meet pressing hiring needs. Recruiting is time-consuming and expensive … leading more and more companies to focus on developing the talent they already have.
“You can’t find it externally, so how do you build it internally?” Marnel asked, stressing the importance of upskilling your existing employees to meet talent gaps. “They may not be there today, but how can you get them there?”
You’re having trouble keeping up with compensation trends.
The labor market is tight, and organizations can find themselves in salary competition to both hire and retain the cream of the working crop. But compelling companies aren’t always making the case on a dollar-to-dollar basis. Often, they are offering the ability to learn and grow.
The Benefits of Employee and HR Training
In addition to being the secret weapon in an HR department’s challenge-solving toolbox, consistent, strategic training offers multiple benefits to employers, employees and their wider community:
As we’ve touched on, training is part of the total rewards packages organizations offer their employees and a way to stay competitive in a tough labor market.
Employee Morale (Engagement & Satisfaction)
Employees who feel like they have the knowledge, context and resources they need to do their jobs well are more likely to exhibit high morale. Investing in training equals investing in your employees, which leads to higher levels of both engagement and satisfaction.
Training plans designed to support organizational goals will lead to, you guessed it, goals actually achieved.
When those met goals lead to growth, well-chosen training can also prepare staff to take on the challenges of running and working for a larger organization.
A well-trained workforce makes for a safer, more legally compliant employee base … that makes far less expensive mistakes.
Higher individual employee performance
In addition to the overall benefits that high employee morale brings to an organization, individual contributions skyrocket when supported with appropriate and compelling training.
Raised reputation in your industry
That individual employee growth and development can scare some employers — are you training them right out of your doors? Marnel reminds Employers Council members to keep their eyes on the bigger picture of your brand’s reputation as a high quality employer.
“You have to shift your mindset to prepare them to potentially leave you,” Marnel said. “That’s scary, but if they choose to leave, they will always remember the investment you made in them. And that branding and world-of-mouth reputation is significant.”
Halo effect in the community
Finally, an invested, well-equipped workforce can not only impact the organization but can lift up the entire community as well. Whether through community programs sponsored by the company or by raising the skills of the area’s labor force, training is an investment that reaches outside organizational walls.
Four Core Types of Employee Training
Leadership and Professional Development
Every organization is only as strong as its leaders. Leadership development is essential to a smoothly functioning organization, whether that’s helping new managers transition into their roles or supporting the growth of more senior execs. Individual contributors need tools to excel in their roles, too. Professional development classes boost the soft skills all employees need to succeed.
Legal and Compliance Training
Managers, supervisors and HR professionals should all receive employment and labor law compliance training. HR employees regularly deal with issues with significant legal consequences, but frontline leaders also need to understand the finer points of compliance.
“Managers have to know what red flags to look for to elevate it to HR or get it to the right people,” Marnel said.
Human Resources Training
Whether strengthening a fully staffed HR department or helping an employee tackle HR tasks for a start-up, HR training is a crucial card in the training deck. Again, managers, supervisors and leaders may also need training on HR topics, including hiring and interviewing, performance management, and more.
Depending on the type of organization, other kinds of industry-specific training may be necessary. Professional organizations often offer this type of education. Employers Council also handles custom training design requests for project management, safety issues and other specific topics.
Five Crucial Training Touchpoints for Every Career Step
How often should organizations be offering training for their employees? Are one-off classes as effective as a planned slate of ongoing opportunities?
“Although an individual training class can be effective, it may not have the organizational impact you are looking for,” Marnel said of establishing a successful training rhythm. “My philosophy is training is an ongoing process.” Training should be integrated into every part of the workforce lifecycle. Planning training around employee touch points is one way to ensure your workforce has the resources they need at every step in their careers.
“You should be reviewing annually where those touchpoints are, what are some of the mitigating risk compliance [issues] and then, organizationally and individually, what is the programming you think is important for your people,” Marnel said.
New employees need to be introduced to your company’s mission, vision and values, including anti harassment and discrimination training. There may be opportunities for more technical training and filling in any known knowledge gaps.
New or Emerging Leaders
New leaders often need support to build managerial skills as they adapt to their new roles. Organizations also need to regularly identify and train high-potential employees for future leadership roles.
Individual Contributor Goals
Managers and HR professionals should keep the lines of communication open for individual contributors as well. What is the organization trying to achieve and how can each employee’s goals tie into those larger goals?
Every organization has a different set of compliance requirements. Those legal risks should drive training decisions. Where are the biggest risks to the company’s well being? Prioritize training that ensures key employees are well versed in compliance issues.
Finally, the challenges listed above in Section 1 offer ongoing opportunities for training that addresses specific problems, from unmet goals to underperforming teams.
Six questions to guide training plan development
HR professionals are usually the ones tasked with creating training plans, unless an organization has a separate training and development department. But they should also gain input from others to make sure that plans are tied to both organizational and individual goals.
“Managers and/or department heads need to be involved because they know what the individual training goals are,” Marnel said, “and what the department is trying to achieve.”
Training plans should be tailored to at least five different types of training plan needs:
- Organization-wide Compliance (including harassment and discrimination)
- Managers and Supervisors Compliance Issues
- High Potential Growth & Leadership Development
- Individual Contributor Professional Development
- Human Resource Needs
Marnel suggests using the following questions to guide training plan development:
1. What is the business need? What are you trying to achieve?
Start with the big picture: Your organizational, developmental and individual goals. Those needs are the key to your training solutions.
2. Where are your skill gaps?
What knowledge, skills, tools, resources and processes do you need to achieve those goals? Which still need to be developed at your organization?
3. Who are your high potential employees?
Who has shown leadership potential? Who is performing well and has the capacity to take on new challenges and build new skills?
4. What do your employees want to learn?
What training needs are bubbling up? Often, employees are the first to identify skills gaps because they are the ones being asked to do a job without the knowledge they need to excel. What do your employees say is most important to learn?
5. Who has the expertise to develop and deliver the training and development you need?
Can you develop these training tools internally? Or do you need to find outsourced training help (see below)?
6. What are our expectations for training?
How will you set and communicate expectations for attendance, attention and availability?
Outsourced HR and employee training costs
Recent research on the average training spend per employee tends to run around $1,100 to $1,300, but organizations vary widely in their financial commitment to workplace learning.2
There are also hidden costs associated with training that aren’t always taken into account. For example, not investing in training can lead to productivity losses, legal fees, non-compliance fines, and the high cost of hiring and training new employees if existing talent leaves because of lack of investment or support.
To stretch their training budgets (or because HR departments are already over-committed), many organizations outsource all or most of the training process, from development to instruction.
To get the most return on investment from your outsourced training budget, Marnel says knowing exactly what you are trying to achieve is key — especially your expectations for concrete, individual outcomes.
“What are you wanting that person to do when they get back — not just know but do?” Marnel stressed.
Prices for outsourced training run the gamut. Here are the factors that can influence cost:
- Modality: Is it in-person or virtual? On-demand or instructor-led? Are travel costs included for either the instructor or for employees to travel to the training?
- Length/Duration: Is it just one short webinar, a multi-day workshop or something in between?
- Content: Are there value-added components, such as assessments included?
Customization: Is the class content developed for a variety of organizations to run on a regular schedule or something created just for your organization?
How to Choose an Outsourced HR and Employee Training Partner
When organizations are trying to decide whether to develop and execute training internally or outsource all or part of the process, Marnel suggested asking the following questions:
- Can you do this yourself?
- Do you have the time?
- Do you have the expertise?
- If you do have the time and expertise, is it more cost-efficient to outsource?
- Will your employees be more likely to listen to an external voice rather than someone inside the company?
There are many different kinds of companies offering outsourced training, including large national firms with lecture-based programming, human resource certification organizations, law firms who offer training as a marketing practice, and individual consultants who specialize in certain topics. Employers Council is a unique entry in the field, for reasons we’ll cover in the next section.
As you are evaluating potential outsourced training partners, Marnel outlined the factors that should play into your decision:
“Who is teaching?” asked Marnel. “Make sure they not only know what they are talking about, but they are also adept at translating this knowledge into a classroom!”.
Experience delivering real outcomes
Look for partners with a proven track record in both instruction and your target content areas. Do the outcomes they are promising fit the experiences of past participants?
Modalities and schedules that fit your needs
Do they offer the types of instruction that will set your employees up for success? If the training is scheduled, not on-demand, will your employees be able to attend?
Offerings that create efficiencies
“There are ways excellent training can be delivered in a more accessible way to allow for efficiency,” Marnel asked. “Some on-demand training is a great way to train less interactive content so that it’s not taking up as much time and is more economically feasible.”
A price that fits your budget
Marnel says to make sure to weigh price against quality; the least expensive options aren’t always going to be the best long-term investment.
Are there ways to continue learning after the training, whether that’s a more advanced session, practice sessions, or additional coaching?
What makes training from Employers Council different?
If you are looking for a unique outsourced training partner, you’ve come to the right guide! Employers Council has been helping create — and train — exceptional workplaces since 1939. Marnel explained the ways the Council stands out from other training providers:
Comprehensive training topics
“Employers Council’s training is very well rounded. We offer employment related training in three disciplines: leadership and professional development, legal compliance training, and human resources,” Marnel said. “I believe this sets us apart from other training organizations.
Employers Council’s instructional design team is constantly updating its training catalog with timely and relevant offerings to respond to member needs.
“We invest in our instructors,” Marnel said. “Our instructors are trained on how to create an exceptional classroom experience, whether that be virtual or in-person.”
Custom training available
If the training you need to support your organization’s goals isn’t available, Employers Council can create it for you.
All modalities offered
In-person and virtual instructor-led, as well as on-demand — Employers Council has every kind of training available to meet a wide variety of needs.
Member resources supplement training
The biggest difference between Employers Council and other training providers is their extensive member services beyond training: on-call consulting staff, a resources library, pay-as-you-go HR and legal services, benchmark surveys, member pricing on training and events, and more. Members can augment any training they receive with whitepapers, webinars, and (for Consulting and Enterprise memberships) consulting services on the same topic. The learning doesn’t stop when the training ends.
Curious what training and development Employers Council is currently offering? See our Training & Events Catalog.
- “39 Statistics that prove the value of employee training,” Lorman.com. 1 September, 2021. Accessed 25 July 2022.
- “68 Training Industry Statistics: 2021/2022 Data, Trends & Predictions,” by Imed Bouchrika, Research.com. 13 October 2022. Accessed 2 November 2022.