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Steve Doyle, our managing director discusses how to optimise your employees’ skills and harness their potential through effective, targeted training.

In a rapidly evolving economy, businesses are continually being challenged to make sure teams have the right expertise, competency and skills to deliver.

Plan a programme

The best way to optimise skills in the workplace is through an effective training programme. We’ve seen for ourselves how training can increase employee loyalty and retention levels – not to mention improving productivity and plugging skills gaps. However, the onus is on training managers, departmental heads and training providers to ensure businesses maximise their return from training budgets.

Evaluate business needs

Before embarking on a training programme the first step is to evaluate whether a training programme will help achieve business goals. Companies should ask themselves what skills are going to be important in the future, and what will help to positively impact performance indicators such as productivity, new business wins and product development. Training programmes must be developed to suit the needs of the company.

Take Argos, for example. The business has really benefitted from introducing a universal and academy-style training programme called the Argos Retail Academy to help cement its position as a leading digital retailer. The programme, which links theoretical learning modules with the world of work, aims to upskill staff in line with business aims and objectives so future, competent retail experts can be created.

Types of Training

In order to harness skills and train staff effectively, employers need to consider all training types and formats. Some of the best training programmes incorporate a variety of training methods. From something as simple as timing – for instance, some businesses prefer training days to be blocked out while others benefit from regular assessment visits – to how learners access notes, there are a wide variety of options available.

The exponential rise of e-learning, which offers a low-cost and flexible alternative to traditional training methods means it is now easier than ever for employers to improve skills in the workplace.

At Argos new cohorts of employees on the academy programme from store assistants to area managers, have access to a plethora of training options to help improve their skills and knowledge in the retail sector. We have worked with them to develop a multi-purpose scheme that will teach trainees key skills such as how to use online facilities to achieve retail sales, including advising customers on how to use web-based systems.

Measure

Once a training programme is in place, companies need to make sure they are regularly measuring how the scheme has affected company performance against original aims.

In order to deliver effective training in the future, businesses also need to measure the usefulness of a training programme compared to what its original aims were.

This can be through learner feedback or simple observation of productivity levels in the workplace. This way, businesses can tangibly start to see return on their investment.

Review

It’s also important to regularly review training methods to check they still align with business aims.

Training can become out of date and often needs to be updated as processes, technologies and business goals change. Future proofing the workforce is crucial and continually recognising skills gaps will ultimately strengthen the company.

Great training teaches employees core business development and management skills to help them in their next career steps, as well as helping the business to remain ahead of the game in its offering to customers. By ensuring that investment in staff is a priority now, companies will reap the rewards in the future, and harness skills in the long term.

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