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Did Your Organization Leave Employee Development Behind During the Pandemic?

October 18, 2021

By Michael Burns, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

With the many interruptions and re-prioritizations being forced upon employers due to COVID-19 for the past 18 months or so, employee development has lagged in many organizations. Employers and employees have had to work through:

  • Employee turnover due to downsizing or employee resignations due to changing careers
  • Getting new employees (if you can find them) up to speed
  • Not having enough workers that would allow others to be off attending training and development programs
  • And what about those new jobs that will be coming along? The World Economic Forum predicts “40% of the cores skills in the average job will change in the next five years”

At this point in time as the COVID-19 pandemic is waning, it is recommended employers should be asking, “Do we have (or continue to have) an effective internal skills training program that addresses training and development across the company?” A good training and development plan not only looks at current skills and competencies but across the tenure of the employee’s career at the organization.

Training is not just specific to technological, mechanical, or digital, it should also include leadership, communications, adaptability, and collaborations skills.

Today’s training resources will enable employers to deliver skills training in several formats that can expedite development. Though online training due to contagion concerns will eventually transition back to in-person classes to some extent, the various training options will remain.

As mentioned above, if training has dropped off in the last year or two due to other business priorities, it may make sense to do a training needs assessment.

Determining What Training is Needed

CCH HR Answers Now, your ASE member library, provides excellent guidance on this topic. In a short tutorial entitled Training Needs Assessment its authors advise:

The basic steps in needs assessment are:

  1. Determine what needs are unmet and project training requirements.
  2. Prioritize needs.
  3. Use various assessment methods to ensure that the needs are real and based on job needs.
  4. Determine delivery for needs.

The article’s author advises that despite the “intimidating” terminology, “needs assessment” and “job analysis” is simple research.

This includes:

  1. Reviewing the elements of skill/performance of the particular job(s)
  2. Analyzing what the data says
  3. Then designing and conducting a survey of training needs to obtain feedback from those who really know the job
  4. Summarize the data
  5. Recommend areas of training required

Determine Who Needs Training

When it comes to leadership development it is suggested performance appraisals can point to workers with special aptitudes that may be trained in preparation for management.

Some organizations rely on nominations from other leaders and testing if that is available.

In more structured organizations prerequisites such as length of service, pay grade, or security clearance can be part of the development selection process. Other prerequisites may be physical condition, education, experience, and personal skills and aptitude can be used to identify workers ready for training and development.

In many organizations performance criteria derived from measurement of actual task performed during work are used.

And for forward looking organizations, what about training for prospective employees? “Prospective employees? How can I plan for and invest in people that do not even work for me yet?” Think working with staffing agencies. A local partnership with a staffing firm where the organization may commit to using the staffing agency services if they can better train the prospective employees before they come on board.

Don’t neglect consideration of partnerships with community colleges and state and local workforce development agencies and training programs. Employers can work with these groups to possibly develop and shape the training programs to meet the employer’s particular needs going forward. This will take patience and diligence with the local community college or workforce development agency to develop a specific training program but can pay off in the long run as a trainee-employee pipeline is created.

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