Beating the Recession with a Strategic Training Program

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The current global economic slowdown has caused many business owners and managers to take a closer look at their organizations. With companies wanting more out of less, and employees increasingly feeling less motivated (some even disgruntled), many are realizing the importance of having a strategic training program in place. Nicholas Goh, CEO of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd - a leading provider of Translation and Localization services in more than 60 foreign languages, provides a tip sheet to achieve the highest level of success in corporate training.

Many companies are bracing themselves to ride out the current economic crisis by lowering headcount. At the same time, these companies want to be able to maintain (or even increase) productivity to remain profitable. This means that employees need to be even more efficient and deliver more with less resources.

From the employees' perspective, staff are getting less motivated because they no longer have job security. They have also been getting less performance incentives (or none at all), with bonuses slashed in many cases. As a result, morale is at an all time low.

It is especially in times like these that employers need to ensure that they have a work environment that makes workers feel committed, engaged and motivated. Employees need to know that they have the capabilities and knowledge to do their job well. The only way to achieve this is through a well-planned training program.

Training Delivers

Very often, one capable and motivated employee contributes much more to the organization than several incapable and unmotivated ones. Seasoned managers understand that there is direct link between staff capabilities and a company's business success. Here is why:

1. Recruitment

Many job seekers want a work environment that fosters personal growth and development. Training may be as important as the compensation package to these workers. Also, an effective training program allows hiring managers to cast the net wider by taking into consideration people with the right attitude even though they come without the right skill sets. They can always learn the right skills when they are sent for training, but they cannot "learn" the right attitude.

2. Retention

When employees know that a company believes in their personal growth, they are likely to stay longer. In fact, studies have shown that training existing talents can be cheaper than shopping around for new ones.

3. Productivity

Equipping workers with effective thinking skills, problem-solving strategies, decision-making techniques, customer-service techniques, etc. translates to performance on the job. This is because trained staff bring their new knowledge and skills to everything they design, produce and service.

4. Learning

Many training courses conducted by external organizations put participants from different organizations in one class. This encourages participants to interact with people outside of their organization, which allows for cross-company learning and sharing of best-practices. It also provides a platform for networking which, again, may benefit the company.

Training Considerations

It is crucial that as companies push for more training during the slowdown, managers do not overlook the importance of having an effective and targeted training program. There is no point in having workers clock in hours of training if the program does not adequately meet the needs of the company.

A strategic training program should drive employees toward corporate goals and deliver results for all. The following should be considered:

1. Commitment from senior management

For a company-wide embrace of training, the direction has to come from the top. Senior management needs to understand and agree to a solid training program before a training program can be effective. There should also be a clear training budget.

Training must be embedded in the company's DNA. It needs to be considered in business plans; talked about in corporate communications; and considered when planning facilities and organization structure, and when setting individual performance measurements.

2. Matching of training with needs

Employees must be assessed on what they do well and where they need improvement. Managers must be able to accurately determine what elements are holding back their team, and what knowledge or skill is lacking. for them to improve on performance.

3. Localization of training content

Localization of training materials cannot be taken lightly, especially when training a team with diverse background or culture. The same goes with technical knowledge. Translation of industry-specific or technical content should be done by translators knowledgeable in that specific field.

Training delivery also takes on new significance these days with advancement in technology. It is important to match the training material and audience requirement with the right channel. Mobile workers would benefit from e-learning programs, for instance. Multimedia format would be suitable for content that requires graphic illustrations.

4. Cutting out of distractions

Let trainees focus on the task at hand. They should be learning when they are attending training. The worst thing a manager can do is to expect his staff to straddle training and work at the same time.

Training programs that allow for trainees to choose when and where they participate in training is one way of ensuring no distraction. Most e-learning programs allow trainees to log in at a time convenient to them, and from any computer terminal with Internet connection. This flexibility helps to ensure that trainees can learn at their own time and pace.

5. Proper follow-up

Managers need to create the opportunity for their staff to practise what they have learnt on the job. Managers should also discuss with each employee after the training to get his or her feedback on what was learnt and whether he finds the training useful. This way, managers get to assess whether a certain program is suitable for his team, and help his staff revisit what was learnt.

Effective and Targeted Training

A strategic, localized and targeted training program can reap significant rewards for a company. This could be in the area of morale boosting, or as direct impact on a company's bottom line. However, a company-wide training program is a significant investment. That is why it is so important for companies to ensure that the return on investment in training is worthwhile.

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