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Top HR Concern Is Employee Training and Development, Survey Shows

The top staffing concern for human-resources departments now is continuing education for workers, a new survey of HR managers indicates.

Nearly half (45%) of the HR managers interviewed said their greatest staffing concern is employee training and development. Retaining top performers came in second, at 27%.

The survey was developed by Office Team and was conducted by an independent research firm. Results are based on telephone interviews with more than 500 HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees.

HR managers were asked, “Which of the following is your greatest staffing concern as a human-resources professional?” Their responses:

  • Training and developing employees - 45%
  • Retaining top-performing employees - 27%
  • Recruiting new employees - 23%
  • None/doesn't apply - 5%

“As workers take on expanded responsibilities, it becomes more important for companies to offer professional development to help their teams keep up,” said OfficeTeam Executive Director Robert Hosking. “Training programs boost job satisfaction for employees by enabling them to build new skills and take on more challenging roles.”

Hosking suggests these ways of identifying and implementing workplace training needs and options:

  • Promote a culture of learning. Encourage staff to take advantage of educational opportunities to keep  skills up-to-date. Show employees the company supports their long-term career growth by providing the resources needed to accomplish their professional-development goals. Get management to rally behind training initiatives.
  • Determine needs. Identify areas where training would prove beneficial. Education may be required to introduce new technologies, policies or processes, or to help staff hone skills to better meet company goals. Companies also should ask workers for their thoughts on training topics.
  • Define the target audience. Identify individuals or groups likely to benefit from training. Some topics, such as company policies, are relevant to all employees. Skill-based training may benefit only workers in specific roles. 
  • Choose the right medium. Decide between delivery options such as one-on-one compared with group sessions, e-learning compared with in-person instruction, on-site compared with off-site locations, etc. Select the appropriate method based on available resources and what best suits the audience’s needs. Companies should check in with employees for insight into which educational options they prefer. 
  • Analyze the impact. Decide in advance the measurable results management hopes to achieve with training and determine whether the outcome meets the goals. Create an employee-feedback form to collect comments on each program’s effectiveness.  
  • Make it ongoing. Regularly assess staff needs and offer programs that will continually motivate workers to grow and improve professionally.

Many companies may want to provide training and career-development programs to their employees, but are worried about the costs of providing it, especially in a difficult economic time.  Hosking offers these tips for creating cost-effective professional development options for employees:

Explore e-learning options. The Internet offers a wide variety of effective training options for professionals while also saving employers the time and expense of sending personnel off-site for instruction.

  • Take advantage of trade associations. Encourage staff to join professional organizations. These groups provide opportunities for their members – often at a discount – to update their knowledge of business and industry fundamentals and acquire new skills through seminars, workshops and online courses.
  • Establish a mentoring program. Mentoring is a cost-effective, easy-to-implement method to provide hands-on training to employees and promote knowledge transfer between seasoned and less-experienced professionals.
  • Organize brown-bag training sessions. Provide in-house classes that can be taught by well-respected managers from within the company or recently retired employees.
  • Invite others to share. When people take an online course or attend a seminar, ask them to discuss key knowledge acquired with the rest of the department.
  • Job security is on everyone’s minds, and having up-to-date skills is the key to staying relevant and marketable,” Hosking said. “By providing training opportunities, companies demonstrate they’re committed to their employees’ long-term career growth, and this can help with their retention efforts.”


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