Even in today’s world of instant accessibility and unsurpassed flexibility of training content and courses many Operations, HR and Safety professionals I work with have a very hard time getting their entire staff to complete required training. Many times this training is compliance based and therefore necessary for the employee to do their job. This can be anything from WHMIS and First Aid to operator’s equipment certifications and licenses. Basically, when employees become comfortable in their job a decent sized portion feel that training and development or recertifications are simply a distracting task that interferes with their primary job duties as opposed to improves their ability to be safe and efficient.
There are many reasons for this dilemma including but far from limited to poor corporate culture, a lack of leadership, short-term thinking (only concerned with the current shifts output) and ineffective communication. What it typically boils down to is the staff feel that either this training is irrelevant or that no one really cares if it is completed. It is very difficult to continuously mitigate or manage all these barriers so instead, we must work to make training programs that are effective, efficient and keep employees accountable by being part of their own development plan.
Most employees have no way of knowing the status of all of their required certifications and necessary training courses. This is typically information that is stored by HR in some random Excel file which only a few administrators or training specialists have access to. This is a big problem because it puts zero accountability on the employee to be part of their development which leads to very little investment on their end. Staff should be aware of the status of their current compliance and see ahead of time when they are required to recertify or complete new training. This allows them to prepare for it and also ensure their current tasks or projects will have the minimum negative impact due to lost time from these required courses or tests. Beyond awareness for the employee, it also adds a tremendous amount of accountability on the employee when they are also responsible for their development, there is no more “I didn’t know” or “HR never said anything”. So be sure going forward to look for training solutions that not only keep the employee in the loop but also has notification functions giving them fair notice of new training or upcoming recertification.
This one is very simple, make training as easy to access as possible and ensure it is flexible. Employees should not have training greatly interfere their ability to effectively meet their jobs requirements or deadlines. With modern online deliver methods training is incredibly easy to access, completed much faster and allows for employees to segment their learning by doing small portions at a time if needed. When training can work around the demands of an employee’s primary duties it is very easy for them to make time for it.
One of the best strategies I had heard from many clients and colleagues is to ensure that employees are rewarded for their professional development. What they mean by this is that employees continuously gathering new skills and undertaking additional training to become better at their job and other cross functional positions are rewarded with better opportunities. To do this an employer must create a culture around continuous professional development.
This is best accomplished using clear and well-understood learning paths. Employees will greatly value training when they know there is a purpose for it which will benefit them and they’re career development. By providing them with new knowledge skills and abilities (KSA) or even further developing their current KSA they are more marketable (employable) and can use this to advance within your organization or possibly abroad.
The hands down number one excuse for poor training completion rates is due to the perception of irrelevance to job duties. Now sometimes this is simply an excuse used to mitigate the blame for poor completion rates but many times it is somewhat true. Employees do not enjoy doing tasks that interfere with their true job just because they have to, and even when they do it is often done with little to no concern for the outcome. The simplest solution is this is make training relevant!
I can’t say this enough it is so important to have training that is relevant to your staff operations processes and duties. Make sure it reflects your own operating procedures and if possible have your own custom content developed because it will not only make more sense to your staff but they will have an easier time applying what they’ve learned to their actual jobs. This all translates to superior learning outcomes and better training adoption and completion.
We can’t make every employee care about their professional development but we can create a culture and systems that promote it and drive them towards continuous improvement. So to keep things simple by making it easy for staff to complete training, ensuring that it is actually going to improve their KSAs and showing them the value this training brings to their position and overall career trajectory it becomes a lot easier to get your employees to complete and even care about training.
Donny McGrath, Development Solutions Strategist