Tide of Economic Change: Riding the Next Wave in Training
Signs are pointing to economic resurgence. But if ‘a rising tide lifts all boats,’ why are so many companies struggling to stay afloat when it comes to engagement and retention? One compelling reason: training.
Millennials are saturating the workforce while technology and business evolve rapidly. Companies simply cannot rely solely on an economic tailwind to propel them forward.
Instead, organizations must adjust their sails when it comes to training and development or risk a sinking ship. To help our members better adapt their training practices to meet the needs of today’s radically changing workforce, there are three myths that I need to dispel.
Myth #1: Successful organizations don’t have to invest in training. It’s just an expense and has little impact on the bottom line.
Reality: The decision NOT to invest in training is a costly misstep for a company of any size. Let’s look at the data. A recent Forbes-issued report indicates that spending on corporate training has now surpassed $70 billion in the United States alone. Is the return on investment worth the seemingly exorbitant cost? The answer is a resounding YES. Commitment to training not only breeds employee engagement and loyalty, but also serves to minimize the skills gap that results when the demand for skilled workers exceeds current supply.
Simply stated, companies that regard employee training as a high-priority investment experience higher levels of performance, productivity, and profitability than organizations who forgo the training investment. Still not convinced? What if I told you that training also improves retention rates and helps to combat turnover? Turnover is a pervasive and costly issue for companies that employ millennials. An estimated 87% of companies report that it costs between $15-25,000 to replace each millennial employee they lose. In other words, you can’t afford NOT to train your workforce.
Myth #2: Leaders are born, not bred. Therefore, emphasis on leadership training is unnecessary.
Reality: On the contrary. Now more than ever, leadership training is critical to an organization’s long-term health and sustainability. Companies must work hard to actively and strategically cultivate leaders. Leadership continues to present significant challenges for companies of all sizes, as evidenced by Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report, in which 89% of its over 7000 respondents cited leadership as one of their top priorities and primary concerns.
With a robust workforce and strong economy, why is leadership development emerging as one of the most inescapable challenges for companies large and small? One undeniable explanation is the influx of millennial generation employees in the workplace. A younger workforce has ignited drastic change in organizational design. The traditional hierarchy is now being replaced by more collaborative, agile work environments where contributors of all experience levels, representing a diverse set of functions, prove critical to a company’s success.
With that in mind, it is imperative that companies begin to identify and train younger employees early in their careers in order to build a pipeline of future leaders. Developing a pipeline is essential to fighting the battle against turnover. A comprehensive study titled Why Millennials Leave Companies reports that 60% of millennials leave their companies in less than three years.
Retention is not the only benefit of leadership training. It also helps companies meet the values and priorities expressed by their younger workforce and keep them engaged. Millennials cite development, opportunity for growth, and the desire to feel connected to an organization on a more holistic level as core priorities. Therefore, it’s a win-win. Emphasis on leadership training yields mutual and longstanding benefits for both the company and its employees.
Myth #3 On-site, instructor-led learning is the only effective way to deliver training material.
Reality: Yes, live instruction is still considered the most popular and effective mode of delivery when it comes to training. In fact, according to ATD’s State of the Industry Report 50% of employees’ formal learning hours are spent in an instructor-led classroom environment. And with good reason. Live training undoubtedly fosters connection, collaboration, and communication among participants. The training experience transcends the material itself, leaving employees to feel more engaged in their role and connected to their organization and its mission.
However, instructor-led classroom training is not the only way to deliver impactful training, nor should it be. With the increase of millennials in the workplace, many of whom have grown up accustomed to both technology and self-directed learning modalities, along with the prevalence of virtual and global employees, companies should work to provide more innovative platforms and accessible modes of content delivery. Blended learning, an approach to training that incorporates both live instructor-led training along with web-based tools, allows for employees to engage in more accessible training and development opportunities at their own pace and convenience. At MEA we have begun to incorporate this approach and will be launching a virtual only series by 2017 – a live web-based interactive where all participants will meet online for each workshop.
Let’s recap. Economic changes and shifts in workforce demographics can certainly present tremendous opportunities for companies of all sizes, especially for those with young crew members on deck. But in order to capitalize on the opportunities, companies must adjust their approaches to training. MEA is committed to supporting your organization’s unique training and development needs. Contact us today and let our team of professionals help your company navigate challenging seas and ride the wave of success!