In terms of retention, HR and training can work both together and separately to ensure that the talent acquisition cycle does not have to run repeatedly for the same groups or positions. In general, retention from the training perspective involves fine-tuning and monitoring all programs, as well as using those training programs as a potential source of advertising for retention. Let’s take a look at how the training department can assist HR with employee retention.
One of the first items to look at in regard to general retention is new hire training. Obviously evaluation of new hire training should be a continuous operation for the training department, but don’t forget to evaluate the managers who supervise new hires. You should certainly evaluate new hire performance via their supervisors, but be sure to examine the program itself from the managers’ perspectives. In other words, ensure that new hire training is what the managers need. If you are teaching the wrong skills or the wrong procedures that lead to the skills, new hires and managers are likely to mis-connect. And unhappy new hires tend to be in great danger of leaving. Of course, a new hire who just wasn’t the right fit will eventually self-select anyway, but you definitely don’t want those perfect fits leaving because they did not get the training they needed. New hires’ managers can give you quite a bit of insight on how well prepared they are.
Next, consider cross training as a retention tool. This is another area where you’ll want to get buy in from both HR and managers, but in today’s environment this may be fairly easy. Cross training does not necessarily mean that training or line managers are attempting to prove an excess of staff. It simply means that employees can learn to do more with less staff – and to be prepared to take over wherever needed. But how is cross training a retention tool? Employees with more knowledge about the organization and its operations are more likely to stick around.
Also, be sure to “listen” to training evaluations. In any discussion of training evaluation, we know that an evaluation, at whatever level, is useless unless you do something with it. For the most part, trends in training evaluation are telling you something and you should act upon that knowledge. As your programs are constantly aligned with employees and jobs, you’ll find that this alignment may impact retention.
Another way to look at general retention through training is to truly examine the bottom line. In today’s economic environment, it’s likely that training managers are forced to do this anyway. But look at the competencies your programs teach and figure out how those have impacted the organization. For example, is customer service better? Is turnover in certain positions lower or higher than this time a year ago or two years ago? Have operational errors become lower? If you can link training to these items, you may also impact retention.
Finally, try to make training as accessible as possible. If certain programs lend themselves to online delivery, take the plunge and make the change. Employees need access to information and training at all times, but, as we’ve discussed, many of them are being asked to take on more responsibility in the same amount of work time. If you can cut out travel to and from a training location, not to mention time away for the duration of training, this is also a positive impact on retention. Consider alternative methods to training, as well. For example, we’ve discussed social media roles in training, as well as coaching and mentoring. The combination of these methods can push knowledge out and ensure that the workforce stays focused – and happy on the job.
In regard to HR, be sure to get the department involved in advertising training – and using it as a retention tool. As part of recruitment and selection, the training program can be a big draw, especially if a potential employee understands that he or she will have a career path and the training interventions to support it.
Next, we will finish our series on training roles in HR functions with a discussion of retention at the leadership level.
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