Train for Today and Tomorrow

Employees—and organizations—can benefit from financial, soft skills, and leadership development programs.

Andrew Allen

When it comes to training programs, most organizations tend to stick to the basics: skills needed to perform everyday functions or topics covering compliance requirements. While those are important and necessary, HR leaders should consider additional types of training that can benefit employees and the bottom line. Financial management, soft skills, and leadership training are three areas that can increase employee well-being as well as productivity and retention.

Financial Management

Money is obviously a major motivator to employees, but a bigger salary isn’t always in the budget. While organizations can’t always give employees the financial reward that they want, workers can still benefit financially if they are given financial education training.Why? This helps make their money go further. Financial training will not only work in favor of the employee, but also the business where they work. For example, a study by the Wellness Council of Indiana found financial problems are frequently listed as the top source of stress experienced by employees. While it may seem that it’s the worker’s problem, stress bleeds into work life. In fact, 80 percent of those stressed employees try to deal with financial worries at work. The same report also showed that financial stress is costing companies $7,000 per employee each year. Financial stress can lead to lower productivity, increased accidents, and lost days of work due to stress-induced illness.

Financially stressed employees are more likely to look for higher paying jobs that can help eliminate their financial debts more quickly. But employees may continue to have financial issues if they do not find a way to manage their finances. What does this mean for organizations who don’t provide financial training? Higher turnover.

Given the importance of financial education to an employee’s performance, it should come as no surprise that a SHRM report revealed a 600 percent ROI for companies that have implemented financial education training.

Soft Skills

Most companies do a good job of teaching hard skills: technical skills that can be defined and measured. This can include training on how to use software programs or how to operate a machine. Soft skills, on the other hand, are less tangible and harder to quantify. They include personal accountability, collaboration, negotiation skills, communications, adaptability, problem solving, conflict resolution, and creative thinking.

Organizations need well-developed soft skills to succeed.Think about it: A resume will get a candidate in the door, but it’s their personal interaction with the hiring manager that will likely win them the position. Once on the job, an employee could perform like a genius, but will ultimately be ineffective if they are unable to communicate their ideas to their manager.

The statistics back this up. According to a survey by Adecco Staffing USA, 44 percent of executives said that a lack of soft skills was the biggest proficiency gap they saw in the U.S. workforce. A report from the International Association of Administrative Professionals, OfficeTeam, and HR.com also found that 67 percent of HR managers report hiring a candidate with strong soft skills even if his or her technical abilities were lacking.

Think about soft skill training as a long-term investment in the business. Hard skills are vital for day-to-day work activities but can change over time as new tools and technologies emerge. Soft skills, on the other hand, will benefit the employee—and organization—forever. There are benefits of soft skill training in the short term, too.Research from Hay Group shows that training soft skills can increase a team’s performance by up to 30 percent.

Leadership

One soft skill worth highlighting is leadership training. Leadership training will benefit all employees, regardless of industry or position. That’s right, regardless of position.

While it may seem premature to invest in an employee at an early stage in their career, it will benefit not only the employee, but also the organization. Leadership training makes the employee feel more valued because the organization is investing in them and increase their likelihood of wanting to stay.

The training will also give junior employees a jump start on being a manager. These leadership skills make the often painful transition to management easier because the employees will already have some insight on the challenges and solutions. It also helps ensure the long-term well-being of an organization by having a steady line of young and capable leaders who can be ready to step up to the plate.

Take, for example, the United States military. Considered by many the premier leadership training organization in the world, the U.S. military doesn’t wait for someone to get promoted to give leadership training. The U.S. military puts new employees in leadership training positions from day 1. This despite the fact that as few as 20 percent will serve for longer than three years. This is a long-term approach to employee development.

Financial training, soft skills, and leadership training may not always be priorities for many organizations, but all the data and evidence suggests that they should be. The benefits of providing this training will make any organization more competitive for years to come.

Andrew Allen is marketing manager for Saba Software.

Posted March 15, 2017 in Engaged Workforce

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