Training is an important and necessary part of empowering new and existing employees to succeed. It's absolutely worthwhile, in most instances, to develop training protocols that new employees can use to get them up to speed quickly and with minimal fuss, but how exactly do you go about this? This two-part series looks at the kinds of information new employees need, and the best ways to provide them with this information.
Training is absolutely vital in most employee roles, no matter what kind of work is involved. There are few jobs that are so simple that a new employee can immediately start to perform to the best of their ability from the very first day.
Some managers, unfortunately, see little or no reason to develop employee training materials. The reasoning often seems to be that new employees will find their own way if they're the right person for the job—and that training is therefore an unnecessary expenditure of time.
This is a short-sighted and unproductive way of thinking for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that leaving new employees to sink or swim doesn't only affect their job performance. It also provides them with valuable clues about company culture, or at least, departmental culture. If managers aren't invested in ensuring new employees have all the tools they need to thrive, it sends a rather ugly message about how valuable employees are to the organisation overall.
So, in terms of what value training provides to an organisation, you have to think not only about the direct value, but also indirectly, what training (or the lack of it) says about an organisation. So, what kinds of value does training provide, both to individual employees and to the company?
For employees who are new to the workforce—for instance recent graduates and people entering the workforce as apprentices—training is even more important. People who come into the workforce with little or no prior work experience often have trouble adjusting simply because they're new to the different expectations placed on them in the workplace, versus those placed on them in school and university. So training doesn't just provide them with the knowledge they need to do their job, it also helps them understand the expectations of the workplace environment.
Clearly there are many benefits to providing training for new employees—benefits that go beyond the immediate advantage of having employees who know what they're doing!
Orientation, Training, and Development
The larger the organisation, the more complicated things get for employees who are new to the company. And generally, the more information they need to thrive in their new environment. As a result, it's often beneficial to divide up the category of training into two or three separate areas: orientation, training, and development.
Orientation is the knowledge that all new employees need. It's not specific to any particular job, but it helps people get to know the organisation, understand where they fit into the company, and familiarise themselves with company culture. For people who are entirely new to the workforce, it's also a way of familiarising them with how this new environment operates.
The kinds of things that orientation covers include:
Training is a more specific kind of knowledge that's tailored to the job. It focuses on the particular skills and information an employee needs in their new role, and therefore helps people do their jobs more effectively.
Regardless of whether a new employee has the specific skills and knowledge needed to perform in their new role, there's still a lot to learn. Most organisations have their own particular ways of doing things, and most new employees will find they have at least one or two new skills or tasks to learn. Training needs to take both concepts into account, providing new employees with guidelines that highlight those areas where the organisation might differ from the norm.
Professional development is more of a long-term goal, with the aim of ensuring that employees continue to receive training and education that's useful to them in their work, whether or not they're on the path to promotion.
The most effective organisations view training and education as something that continues throughout a person's career, simply because continuing education helps employees continue to improve their job performance, and enables them to be innovative workers.