The Impact of Training on Employee Productivity
Businesses lose an estimated $37 billion each year due to something completely avoidable: employees not understanding their roles.
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Foundation described this finding in a report, which concluded that a formal onboarding process greatly increases new employees’ likelihood of success within the organization. Of the organizations surveyed for the report, 60% credited effective onboarding for improved employee time to productivity.
Why is Time to Productivity Important?
Prior to training, your employees’ productivity level is at zero. After a basic introduction to their new roles, they can be somewhat productive.
Employee productivity isn’t just about knowing your role — it also encompasses personal habits, skills, and organizational aids. However, there is no doubt that employees cannot succeed without a solid grasp of what is expected of them. It then stands to reason that creating a productive work culture is closely linked to the training plan for new employees.
Neglecting the software onboarding process will also leave new hires at a disadvantage. Without a deep understanding of the technological systems inherent to their daily tasks, employees’ contributions will only be surface level. When your employees’ digital productivity is impaired, overall company performance is drastically limited.
Recruiting new employees is costly in terms of both time and money. Successful new hires produce a positive ROI — and there is a snowball effect. If they are productive, they not only output value for the company, they can also train other new employees to be as effective.
New employee onboarding should address the following categories, according to an evidence-based model by the SHRM.
- Self-Efficacy – understanding where and how to get the resources they need
- Role Clarity – understanding the responsibilities and expectations of the role
- Social Integration – understanding who does what and how it relates to their role
- Knowledge of Culture – understanding company values, expectations, and freedoms
Strategizing Training for Optimal Employee Productivity
Once you’ve built the foundation of effective new hire onboarding, the next step is to create a training plan for new employees. Your training plan should be a rough guide that fits the needs of your organization and that can be customized for each employee’s specific role.
It is not easy, nor practical, to attempt to include every single thing new employees should learn during onboarding. So instead of prescribing all of the elements that should be included in your training plan, here is the framework for how to create a training plan.
1. Start with Identifying Training Objectives
Answer this question: What knowledge and skills do my employees need to be successful and productive? Start drafting the answers to this. It’s best to brainstorm anything and everything and put it all on paper. Then decide how to tailor training to satisfy each item.
2. Organize Training Sessions and Hands-On Training
Find the overarching themes from your list of objectives, and create training sessions around each one. Often, there will be several people in the company that hold expertise in what your new hire needs to learn. Find these people, and include them in the process of designing the training plan. Then, ask them to help lead relevant training sessions.
Employees can be most productive when they are introduced to resources early on rather than searching for it themselves when the need arises. That includes knowing who to turn to with what questions.
It’s important that these training sessions are scheduled for the new employee to understand why before how. For example, explain the company goals, then what is currently being done, and finally how they will contribute to the effort.
3. Open Feedback Loops
Feedback loops during training are multipurpose. First, they serve as a preventative measure to ensure employees are productive during and after training. Offering time to talk through what is and what is not understood early will give you time to fix issues and fill knowledge gaps and improve the onboarding process for the next hires.
Second, provide opportunities for the new hire to discuss the training plan: what is and isn’t working. Perhaps they need more hands-on guidance, or perhaps they’d prefer to observe someone work instead of simply hearing an explanation about how to do something. Meetings between the new employee and training manager can help make training more personalized to the new hire’s needs and ultimately enable them to become more productive, faster.
What Additional Training Would Benefit Employee Productivity?
In the digital workplace, employees engage with numerous online platforms and systems. From email, to project management, CRM, ERP, and HCM, there are a lot of digital tools to be trained on. Frequent and often unpredictable software updates make this training even more challenging. This means that training will need to be ongoing.
Continual software training is a huge challenge for many organizations. After an employee has been onboarded, it is difficult to pull them away from their daily responsibilities for traditional training sessions in classrooms or webinars. Video tutorials and .pdf manuals aren’t much better either.
So what additional training would benefit employee productivity? Mastercard’s VP of Global Talent Development, Brian Gontarski, discussed how he was able to improve the company’s software training using a contextual learning tool.
Interrupting the workflow to train employees every time a software platform releases new features is at odds with the goal of improving productivity. Instead, supplemental technology solutions can provide context-based prompts and guides to help employees navigate new features in real-time. Time to productivity is much faster, enabling employees to maintain high levels of productivity, despite using unfamiliar tools and features.
Even after contextual training is implemented, don’t make the mistake of thinking training ends after onboarding. Training needs to be ongoing if employees are to evolve with the company and continue to increase their productivity.