Indeed, statistics support the value of investing in L&D programmes. Indeed, companies around the world spend US$ 1 billion on training programmes.1 A study by the Association of Talent Development found that companies with comprehensive training programmes enjoy a 218 per cent higher income per employee. It also found that these companies have a 24 per cent higher profit margin compared to companies without one2 .
When designing a programme for your company, there are several key characteristics to keep in mind. Make sure you consider these five important tips for a successful L&D programme before implementing one
1. Identify the training needs of the programme upfront
For a L&D programme to succeed, it must address a clear and definite need.
Identifying these requirements can be done via a ‘top-down’ approach – where management dictates the training needs, or a ‘bottom-up’ approach – where feedback from ground-level staff is the primary determinant. While management might feel like they know best, the second option should not be discounted. After all, who knows the customer better than frontline staff?
Of course, it’s not an ‘either-or’ proposition. Staff may be more familiar with the day-to-day operations but may not be privy to more holistic views of the organisation. Hence, soliciting the views of both management and ground level staff gives you the best of both worlds. Get high-level feedback from management, but don’t forget the feedback from all levels of employees – what they know about the business may surprise you.
Getting ground-level feedback may also amplify the benefit L&D has on employee retention. Research shows that 40 per cent of employees who feel they aren’t getting the necessary job training leave within the first year. Replacing these employees is expensive, costing companies up to three times their annual salary 3 . Showing that the company not only cares about their development but wants them to take an active role in it can save the company both time and money.
2. Set out SMART objectives
You may have heard of using the SMART process when setting goals, which states that chosen goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Once your company has identified a clear training need, it’s time to use the SMART process in laying out the programme’s objectives.
- Specific – The programme should be specific to the identified need
- Measurable – Metrics must be carefully chosen to be able to gauge progress towards filling the need
- Attainable – Be realistic. Save the lofty ideals for the company’s mission statement
- Relevant – Ensure the programme is relevant to the main business objectives and congruent with the company’s core competencies
- Time-based – L&D has no end date, but specific programmes should always have set assessment timeframes
3. Ensure the necessary buy-in for the programme
When it comes to large organisations like banks, unsupportive staff and management can quickly undermine the effectiveness of a L&D programme. Therefore, it is imperative that stakeholders on all levels buy in to the programme goals.
A good way to ensure employee support is for them to be involved in the process, which starts right at the point of identifying a training need. Employees never want to feel like a training program is being forced on them, so the earlier they are engaged, the more they will be invested in its success.
Management buy-in is of course also important because they would likely be the final approvers of the programme. By framing the programme based on the SMART criteria, you can show them exactly what the programme is designed to achieve and the impact it could have on the company’s performance.
4. List out actual costs involved from the beginning
Budgeting for L&D programmes usually requires compromise, so make sure all parties know the actual costs involved. When figuring out a budget for your programme, remember to include both tangible and intangible costs.
Tangibles are easily measurable costs like payments to external facilitators and cost of training materials, while intangibles can include items like workflow disruption from onsite training and time taken to develop the training. Considering both types of costs will allow for better planning and thus, a higher chance of success.
5. Choose appropriate metrics to measure the programme’s effectiveness
The metrics used to measure the effectiveness of your programme would vary depending on its goal. Some metrics are objective and easy to measure, while others are more subjective. For example, you can gauge the impact of a sales training programme by comparing hard figures over fixed periods, but it’s not as cut and dry when talking about a financial credit analysis programme.
For more subjective cases such as the credit analysis programme, holistic metrics like the opinion of credit approval committees on the candidates’ credit papers could be used. A common model many companies follow is the Kirkpatrick model, which began over 60 years ago as a method for evaluating industrial supervisors. It is now used to evaluate any type of training programme. The model identifies four levels of training evaluations, which are:
Level 1: Reaction – participant feedback on how much they find the training to be favourable, engaging, and relevant to their jobs
Level 2: Learning – the degree to which participants acquire intended knowledge, skills, and attitude
Level 3: Behaviour – the level of on-the-job application of training knowledge and skills
Level 4: Results – the level of achieved targeted outcomes as a result of the training
Tying it all together: finding proven best practices for your programme
L&D is dynamic, not static, and the programme should reflect that. What was a best practice yesterday may be obsolete tomorrow, especially as more and more of your employees come from the digital generation. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, many L&D departments are falling behind, with a survey showing over half of employers having inadequate programs to build the skills of the future 4 .
Therefore, you must continually assess the programme based on the metrics you’ve chosen to determine whether it needs to be tweaked or possibly even overhauled. Another option is to use reputable industry-specific training providers to stay on top of current best practices. After all, keeping abreast with industry best practices and trends is their business.
Having an effective and useful L&D programme is important to job-seekers as well. In a 2016 report by Gallup 5 , “How Millennials want to work and live”, 87 per cent of millennials in the study rated “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job.
Have your trainers attend the FAA's Certified Training Professional (CTP) programme where they'll learn to design, develop, and deliver a programme using adult-learning methodologies benchmarked against international standards.