Continuous improvement has always been a major driver of success. But today’s turbulent times present a unique opportunity to redefine your business.
Is your business experiencing a slowdown? Take advantage of the lull to revisit your business plans and realign your activities. Now is a good time to try new practices, switch to better tools and update your action plans for the short, medium and long terms. Updated processes will help your business adapt to a changing market and set you on track to a brighter future.
But you can’t implement these changes effectively unless your staff has the right training. The Quebec Government recently unveiled the Programme actions concertées pour le maintien en emploi (PACME–COVID-19), which covers employee training for businesses affected by the crisis.
Investing in training makes sense for a lot of reasons, including:
- Attracting and retaining competent employees;
- Keeping employees engaged and motivated;
- Adapting better to internal and external changes;
- Staying competitive in a highly competitive and evolving market;
- Preparing successors;
- Reducing staff turnover;
- Maintaining loyalty and trust in the organization.
Professional development is a broad category that covers several different areas, including hard and soft skills. For example, as manufacturing businesses shift to Industry 4.0, their employees are having to update their technical skills.
The current crisis has only accelerated the pace of change, affecting certain job descriptions and increasing demand for specific skill sets. Plus, the current labour shortage means it’s doubly advantageous to invest in the people you already have and help them develop new skills.
A competitive advantage
There’s a correlation between training investments and productivity gains. Skill development is a key differentiator that can help your business rise above the rest. That’s why it needs to be a key aspect of your strategic plan, right up there with finance.
Investing in professional development can also increase employees’ trust in you as an employer, leading to higher engagement. When you give staff the chance to learn and gain new skills, you create a better overall employee experience, which in turn enhances your brand image and helps you attract top talent.
The training plan
However, including skill development in your overall strategy can be challenging. How do you ensure all issues are addressed?
To do it right, we recommend following these key steps:
- Identify your organization’s current and future needs (strategies and objectives);
- Establish the skills profile of each job (current and projected);
- Assess the skills of job incumbents;
- Design the Individual Development Plan (IDP);
- Determine the incumbents’ skills development objectives and the means to achieve them;
- Identify skills development activities and teaching approach in line with your objectives;
- Monitor activities on an ongoing basis, provide encouragement and readjust as needed;
- Provide skills development training for your managers.
Changing appraisal practices
If you’re used to holding annual employee performance appraisals, take note: this practice is changing, as employers shift their attention to talent management and skill development instead. The once-yearly practice has been replaced with an ongoing process in which managers meet with employees regularly to provide feedback and coaching.
Training and skill-development activities can be led by your in-house team (peer training, mentoring, coaching) or by external resources (online courses and guest instructors).
It’s important to make sure your plan reflects your business needs. But the real key to a successful skill development initiative is to address each person’s needs as well as those of the organization. Take the time to prepare meaningful IDPs and use teaching methods that make sense for the individuals and their work environments.
Investing in equipment isn’t enough to keep you at the forefront of your market. Knowledge transfer is also essential for maximizing efficiency.
By making employee development a strategic priority, you’ll be rewarded with short-term performance gains and improve your business’ long-term viability.