I’m concerned that our employee morale and engagement are waning. How can we re-energize our team through training and development with a limited budget?
We’ve seen it all around, and you’ve likely felt it yourself – COVID fatigue, Zoom fatigue, general fatigue. Let’s face it – we’re all tired in some way, and we could use a rejuvenation! Your employees are no different. Now is the time for HR professionals to grab their favorite caffeinated beverage and get back to dusting off the basics to re-invigorate employees through training, development, and engagement initiatives.
In its first several months, the pandemic required all organizations to go into crisis management mode quickly developing and implementing training to address the crisis at hand. Now that organizations have completed the critical just-in-time training of new COVID procedures and protocol, leaders can shift their focus back to key activities that may have fallen by the wayside – namely, training and development opportunities for the purpose of enrichment.
How Training and Development Can Help with Retention
Well-designed training and development activities can help employees:
- Learn and grow in their current role to maximize their performance
- Develop the skills necessary to prepare for the next level of their career
- Stay engaged and invested in your company
It’s not surprising that LinkedIn’s recent Workplace Learning Report found 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. In order to attract and retain key talent – particularly during times like this when many are feeling tired and disengaged – savvy business leaders will continue to invest in their employees’ training and development. Reaching out and making sure that your employees know that your organization cares about and is committed to fostering their skills and career development can be a valuable retention tool.
Include Your Employees From the Start
If you haven’t already done so, we recommend that you conduct a Training Needs Analysis to identify what types of training would be beneficial for your organization as a whole, in addition to assessing development options for individual employees.
When considering new or unique training and development opportunities, you may find a greater return on investment by asking the employees who will participate in those programs to share their thoughts on what training is needed. Connecting with your team and considering their suggestions for training and development content, as well as their preferred ways to learn, can be a great way to ensure that the training will be on target for what employees want and need. Plus, it can re-engage them in their current positions and stimulate their career growth interests.
Refresh Your Training Messaging
In most cases, much of the training messaging employees have heard over the last several months has been focused on how to get their work accomplished amidst the pandemic – i.e., how to work effectively from home, how to protect yourself should you come into the office, etc. As a result, it’s possible that employees have become desensitized to the tone and messaging surrounding training information. It may feel like something they simply “have to do” rather than something they might actually want to do.
Take this opportunity to re-adjust employee expectations and priorities by shifting your training focus and communication. By placing emphasis on their own growth and development, your new training messaging can offer employees the opportunity to re-engage with your employer brand, help them re-align their goals in a COVID world, and refocus their attention on their own growth and development.
Low-Cost Training and Development Opportunities
A tight budget doesn’t have to be a barrier to ensuring that your employees get the training and development they need to grow and to feel valued. Once you understand the necessary training and development programs to offer, start your search for training resources by reviewing your internal talent. Is there an opportunity for one of your high-performing employees to train their peers on a certain task? Could you further develop an individual’s presentation and leadership skills by empowering them to train others? By tapping your own team members on the shoulder, you may discover opportunities to further both training and development without the need for external sources.
Another opportunity can be using an internal mentoring program. Mentoring is a cost-effective way to develop your workforce by pairing your more experienced employees with the newer, less experienced individuals. This can provide a meaningful learning experience for both regardless if they’re working remotely or on-site. The newer employee can learn job-related skills and strategies, while further immersing themselves in the company culture. The more experienced team member may benefit from the fresh knowledge from a recent graduate or a peer who brings experience from a different organization. Both employees have an opportunity to understand what the other’s goals and aspirations are, building stronger relationships within the team.
For additional low-cost training and development ideas, check out our previous article for suggestions that work well for both remote workers and those on-site.
Employee Rewards That Don’t Break the Bank
Particularly at a time when employee morale and engagement is down, it’s important to look for ways to help employees feel good about the work that they do and the valuable role that they play in your organization. If part of your employee engagement strategy is to offer meaningful training and development opportunities, consider linking those with rewards for those who either step up to provide training or mentoring as well as those who complete training or development milestones.
Obviously, your employee rewards can reach far beyond recognizing those who are involved with training and development. To continue to support and boost morale, explore ways to recognize your staff who go above and beyond. It’s amazing what a difference you can make in someone’s life by simply showing appreciation for their hard work and effort.
As with training, there are plenty of no-cost or low-cost reward options. For example, you could share shout-outs during virtual meetings or in company newsletters, award an extra hour or day of PTO, give gift cards to local businesses, restaurants, or delivery services – all of which can be awarded to shine a spotlight on the good that employees are doing in your organization. Even something as simple as a public “thank you” during team meetings can show an employee that their efforts are noticed, valued, and not merely expected. Better yet – ask your employees how they would like to be rewarded. You can set cost parameters on this if needed, but employees will appreciate the chance to choose rewards that are individualized for them.
Many employees could use a boost right now, and there are no better folks to lead the charge than HR. If you can help to re-energize your employees, not only will they feel better about themselves and the work they’re doing, but you will too.
Thank you to Jeff Rouse, MSOL and Melinda Canino, MS for contributing to this edition of our HR Question of the Week!
Is training your employees a goal for 2021? Get your Training and Development program off to the right start by asking strategic HR inc. to help. We have the expertise to conduct a Needs Assessment and/or to recommend training options for your staff. Visit our Training & Development page to learn how we can help you implement a successful training session.