VICE PRESIDENT EDUCATION-TRAINING
Part of the value of being an ASA member is the incredible networking opportunities afforded to members through ASA events. At the 2023 Trainer’s Forum last month, learning and development professionals came together to crowdsource some ways to tackle the most common challenges they face in their day-to-day work. What follows are some of the best ways our members have identified to tackle these common challenges.
CHALLENGE NO. 1: LEADERSHIP BUY-IN
One area that perpetually creates difficulty for L&D professionals is gaining the buy-in of leadership. Whether this means financial buy-in for training functions, or just the case for training in and of itself, this is not a new challenge for trainers. Although the statistics back up the very real consequences of training (or not), it can be harder to paint the picture for upper-level stakeholders. That said, data shows companies that invest $1,500 per employee per year in training yield an average of 24% higher profit margins!
Many attendees commented on the tangible cost of recruitment/rehiring; hiring and training an employee is typically more than $5,000, not including benefits. The relationship between training and retention is strong – companies that invest in training and development have 37% higher employee retention rates, data shows. When framed in dollars and cents to hire and rehire talent, the cost of training pales in comparison to the cost of restaffing every six months.
Attendees were bold with some of their proposed solutions. One attendee commented succinctly – “just do it” – build credibility by finding a solution and presenting a path forward to leadership. Among laughter in the room, many attendees acknowledge that asking for forgiveness instead of permission can be risky, but also can have big payoffs.
Instead of bringing a problem to leadership and asking what you should do about it, take the time to create a path forward attuned to your vision, and present that solution to your leadership. You may still not get the green light, but by taking the situation in hand and creating a pathway forward, it’s a lot more likely you’ll be able to develop your path forward.
The group also noted that creating relationships with upper-level stakeholders can be valuable, as well as individuals who may have wider spheres of influence than your own. Attendees encouraged each other to be brave with their ideas and share them far and wide. Gain allies where you find them and ask for help in your quest to shift the mindset of leadership about training.
CHALLENGE NO. 2: LIMITED BUDGETARY RESOURCES
Limited funding to support training activities can often be a stumbling block for our members. Many times, the training budget can be the low-hanging fruit for budget trimming, leaving L&D professionals to use creative ways to leverage resources that are easy on the pocketbook.
To get around these challenges, many members reported on their use of free web-based resources. In 2023, most savvy software vendors will provide a free version of their paid software. Although this might be missing all the bells and whistles, typically the free-access level provides enough leeway to accomplish the task at hand. Attendees especially loved Canva, a free-to-use, rapid authoring tool to create engaging and exciting imagery.
L&D professionals in the room also commented on the ability to leverage social learning. As silly as it may seem to those in the later stages of their career, resources such as TikTok, YouTube, or social media influencers can also be a credible source for free content (along with some levity!). Several attendees had “work TikTok’ers” they followed and would push out content to their employees via this social platform.
Many also agreed that training need not be fancy to get the job done – the tried-and-true PowerPoint software that comes preloaded onto your laptop can absolutely be a vehicle for information transfer. Over the years, various plug-ins (such as Camtasia, a free video editor) have made PowerPoint much more powerful than a simple slide creator. With a simple microphone and a laptop, you can create detailed voiceovers and narration. Fancy can be fun – but often isn’t required to get the job done.
CHALLENGE NO. 3: CREATING MEANINGFUL CAREER PATHING
Throughout this discussion, attendees hit on a few key strategies for developing internal growth pathways for their trainees. Knowing the importance of career development in retention of talented workers, our members are always looking for ways to secure the future pipeline of talent at their organization.
Many members detail specific career pathways within the business, such as what the path might look like for a warehouse worker who wishes to become a counter salesperson. Attendees highlighted the need to have clear, defined job descriptions, and if one doesn’t already exist, a job description should be drawn up specifically for that role.
By using the job description as a guiding beacon, managers can clearly spell out the skills, behaviors and requirements needed for an employee to advance their career. Transparency is key; employees want to know what the future holds for them. By creating unique promotional and career pathways, the employee understands what is required to get them to the next level and understands the process.
Without this transparency, it can be easy to misconstrue lack of career progression as favoritism or lack of interest in seeing employees grow.
This approach also creates a sense of loyalty, attendees reported. When the company invests in their people by providing training and growth opportunities, the employee feels valued, and that their organization is helping them achieve their career goals. An employee that feels valued and likes their future can be visualized within the organization is much more likely to reinvest in the business in the form of dedicated labor.
ASA University is committed to providing resources to all members to help recruit, train, and retain a quality workforce at their organization. To learn more about how ASA can help you achieve your training goals, contact us at email@example.com.