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3 Ways Training Programs Give Companies a Competitive Advantage


It has become abundantly clear to business leaders that workforce training is no longer a luxury; rather, it has become a vital function to remaining relevant in the competitive marketplace, to developing and retaining employees and to increasing worker quality and productivity.

A majority of workers agree with business leaders. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 54 percent of respondents said it was "essential" for them to receive training to gain new skills in order to keep up with the rapidly changing labor market. 

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The responsibility for executing this essential training of workers largely resides with Learning & Development executives, Human Resources professionals and subject matter experts within companies. Corporate training best practices indicate that all this stakeholders must for a team with clear objectives that align with their company's overall strategic goals.

But how can learning and development teams best ensure that their training programs are designed in a way that maximizes their competitive advantage? Here are some key considerations learning teams must make:

Training Must be Part of Company Culture

In recent years, we have seen large companies such as Walmart establish internal learning and training academies, or similar programs, in an effort to keep their workforce equipped with the latest knowledge and expertise needed to perform their jobs. 

What companies are finding out is that by embedding training at the core of their business, rather than a veritable "add on" or "extra benefit," they are seeing an increased ROI on their training efforts. 

Corporate Learning Programs Can Increase Employee Retention Rates

A report from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 42 percent of employers use education and training to fill vacant positions with existing employees. This is a significant piece of data, suggesting that companies are realizing the economic, practical and competitive advantages that come from "hiring from within" and, as such, are operating ongoing training to make this happen. With a current U.S. unemployment rate of just 3.7 percent, companies are competing for an increasingly smaller pool of qualified applicants. Concurrently, 84 percent of HR professionals are reporting they are finding skills shortages in job applicants. 

Clearly, all the trending data supports the emphasis companies are placing on workforce training.

Use Training to Engage Workers to Increase Performance

Industry research shows that high-performance organizations overwhelmingly tend to have "high employee engagement." That is, they have workers who feel they are making a difference, that they have a voice and can give meaningful input on the company's initiatives, and that they receive ongoing learning and development that makes them more competent and connected to their employer. 

But there is a disconnect.

Edward Hess, professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, has pointed out that 70 percent of the U.S. workforce is not highly engaged in their work. “Why do people leave?" says Hess. "Because they don’t find the work meaningful. They’re treated poorly by their managers, and they’re not growing and developing.”

Providing training for your employees is a win-win scenario: It makes workers more engaged and productive, while also giving the company a workforce that is more motivated and knowledgeable than the competition's workforce. 

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