By Kier McDonald MBE, EduCare

Many employers today find staff development and training opportunities expensive, time consuming and as a result delay implementation of such programmes.

However, training and development programmes provide both the company as a whole and the individual employee with significant benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment.

The good news is that thanks to training technology and e-learning programmes, maintaining an effective staff development programme is easier and cheaper than ever before. Here are three ways to get get started building an effective staff development programme.

Start with a well-designed training programme

A well-designed training program that maximises learning before, during and after instruction translates into satisfied, positive employees.

E-learning is an increasingly attractive option that allows employees to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule with access to the material at any time.

For maximum impact, define a series of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your training programme. KPIs may include average number of training hours per student, average completion percentage, or average final grades. Review these KPIs at regular intervals and manage your training programme and progress against these benchmark values.

Finally, monitoring your employee’s progress throughout the training is critical. Consider surveying employees immediately after the training to assess how well they liked the course, trainer (if applicable), and how well the training met their needs.

Begin coaching and/or mentoring programmes

Both coaching and mentoring are processes that enable both individual and businesses to achieve their full potential.

Coaching and mentoring programmes effectively help develop staff. Specifically, after implementing these programmes businesses will realise faster integration of new employees, increased retention of high-performing employees, increased transfer of skills from one generation to another, enhanced motivation and a stabilising factor in times of change.

Effective coaching and mentoring programmes depend on the skills and personality of the mentor or coach, adequate time for coaching and mentoring sessions and established timelines and goals. 
It’s important for businesses to include the entire organisation in such programmes in order to realise the most significant benefit to staff development.

Develop employees through job rotation and cross training

Job rotation involves an employee moving through one or more different positions. This rotation can last several hours, several months or even a year or two. Cross training is a more specific type of job rotation where an employee learns the skills of a different position but doesn’t necessarily rotate for the long term.

http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Documents/14-0028 JobSatEngage_Report_FULL_FNL.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Research has shown that job rotation and cross training lead to increased engagement and employee retention, along with improved collaboration and overall job satisfaction by the employees.

Both of these approaches can effectively add diversity and interest, prepare individuals for promotion, rejuvenate work units and improve communication. Employees are better able to spread their wings and broaden their horizons through these experiences.

Training, mentorship and cross training are all fundamental elements of employee and staff development and can all lead to increased productivity and overall employee happiness.