Retain. Grow. Inspire. How to create an effective training and development program


Mar 14, 2017 • Tricia McKim • Blog


As the economy continues to improve and the unemployment rate decreases, the race for top talent becomes an increasing priority for companies. A report by Deloitte found employee engagement and retention was one of the top concerns for 78 percent of today’s business leaders.

This need to not only attract, but to retain top talent, requires organizations to create, hone and cultivate their employee experience. A study by WorkplaceTrends, found that 83 percent of HR professionals identified “employee experience” as either the most important or very important to their organizations’ success. More than half of those surveyed said they would enhance their employee experience by investing more in employee training and development. Statistics back-up this strategy:

  • 68 percent of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy (EdenRed)
  • 76 percent of millennials think professional development opportunities are one of the most important elements of company culture (Execu-Search)
  • 49 percent of HR leaders named retention and leadership development programs as the top priority among talent management goals (Saba Software
  • 74 percent of workers feel they are not achieving their full potential at work due to a lack of development opportunities (Middlesex University for Work Based Learning)
  • Over 70 billion is spent on corporate training within the US (Forbes)

This need for a compelling employee experience opens the door for greater collaboration within company departments. Often a function exclusive of HR, other departments, including marketing, recently began entering the employee engagement mix. Together these departments are creating programs, messaging and brands that speak to current and prospective employees, providing the measures desired to keep a growing, skilled and productive workforce.

Benefits of Professional Development and Training Opportunities

According to Bridge, only 12 percent of employees feel their employers aid them in their career development. Yet the desire for both soft- and hard-skills training is high. Professional development and coaching stand as such a desirable advantage to employees because of the many benefits they offer.

Soft-skills training provides individuals with skills they can use in their professional and personal lives. Skills they can take with them no matter where their career journey takes them. This includes:

  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Improved time management, organizational skills and goal setting
  • Knowledge of leadership strategies and tactics
  • Capability to present persuasively for better results

Hard-skills allow employees to advance and learn in their desired fields, and in turn develop a more skilled workforce for employers.

The Performance Gap

At Morningstar Communications, we work primarily with senior level leaders. Throughout our work, we discovered a core need among executive clients for continuing education. People entering the business-world are often afforded many opportunities to learn and grow. As they climb the organizational ladder, those opportunities tend to decline. But true leaders often self-identify as life-long learners. They look for ways to improve their skills and increase their knowledge. This creates a gap in training, development and coaching for organizations’ top performers.

Soft-skills, such as leadership, strategic thinking, and advanced presentation skills, along with coaching are most desirable among achievers. These individuals represent the best, or they would not be in the positions they are in today. Training and coaching helps them take everything to the next level.

According to Forbes, spending on leadership development has been trending as a top area of spending for years and is projected to continue rising. As millennials, who desire to take on more responsibility but know they are lacking in leadership skills, ascend into supervisory and managerial roles, this need for leadership development will remain as a top topic area of training.

Coaching provides a different type of training and development. Executive coaches continue to rise in popularity. It can be lonely the higher an executive climbs in their organization. Coaching lends an outside perspective and allows individuals to voice all concerns and work through solutions with the counsel of someone not moored in the day-to-day. While soft-skills provide the confidence and knowledge to better lead and grow the business.

Developing Your Training Program

When creating your corporate training and development program, there are several things to keep in mind.

  1. What is your goal for implementing a corporate training and development program?
    Employee retention? Filling a leadership gap within the organizations? Growing the business through sales and presentation training? What is the end result you wish to gain from your training program?
  2. What topics are of greatest interest and value to your associates and organization?
    Are your people in need of managerial and leadership development? Do you need to offer specific skill-based courses? Would executives value a coaching relationship with a third-party expert?
  3. What mix of training types will work best for your workforce?
    Will your team respond well to training from an internal resource or do you need an outside coach? Will training at your location prove effective? Or do you need to get out of the building, away from distractions? Will your workforce benefit most from individual, small group or large group training? Is e-learning a viable option for your team?
  4. How will you measure success?
    What will you measure to tie your training goal(s) to program success? Employee advancement and retention numbers? Feedback on associate reviews? Qualitative survey responses measuring participants’ key learnings and confidence levels?
  5. Is this program scalable and applicable to a large number of individuals?
    How can you gain the greatest ROI on this program? When interest in the program increases, how will you handle requests? Will many associates find the program valuable, or only a select few?

The answers to these questions will help you create a training and development program tailored to your organization, goals and top performers.

Taking Your Training and Development Program to the Next Level

For those who already have a training and development program, we are firm believers that you can always find ways to improve. If you are looking to beef up your program, make it more impactful, or achieve greater results, consider these three steps for enhancing your offering.

  1. Survey Associates: No one has a better pulse on the types of training and development topics and opportunities desired than the trainees (your employees) themselves. Take the opportunity to hear directly from your employees. You’ll gain buy-in and have a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities your workforce would like help facing.

    Our client, Intouch Solutions, recently took this approach. They surveyed a portion of their team to learn what topics and skills they would like to discuss during role-based professional development gatherings. Together with Morningstar Communications, Intouch then developed a six-month curriculum to provide this group with the leadership skills and access they desired.
  2. Audit your current programs: Take a full 360-degree view of your current training programs. What topics are currently covered? Are any of the courses out of date and in need of a refresher? What do current results and employee feedback tell you? Where do you have room to improve? What courses or topics are missing?

    One of the areas many of our clients identify as a need is advanced presentation coaching. Public speaking regularly makes the list of professional development topics. However, taking skills to the next level and learning best practices for persuasive presentations is often missing. This knowledge leads to much stronger sales presentations that will serve the business well.
  3. Identify the internal and external resources needed to fill the gaps: Once you know what holes you need to plug, you can develop a strategy for filling those needs. Allocate budget. Determine your requirements for a trainer. And, gain approvals.

    For example, we work with a KC area tech employer that has a robust internal training program. We identified a gap in their offering for executives in need of coaching. Company culture did not allow for an internal coaching relationship. So, a third-party coach proved desirable. Together we developed a coaching option that appealed to their executive audience.

Don’t Wait to Educate

Training and development needs will continue to rise as the war for talent wages on. As Boomers leave the workforce, and Millennials grow into leadership positions, cultivating and retaining knowledgeable, engaged and effective leaders becomes even more important to a company’s success. Whether you have a training and development program in place today, or are just starting to formalize your offerings, determine what training will help you grow and sustain your business. Then act on educating your workforce.


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