Internal Training and Learning Initiatives: Why They Matter
March 31, 2020 in Culture, Learning, Wonders of the Workplace
By Catherine Neale
Every month at FMP we share our thoughts on the latest workplace trends and explore the effects they have on employees. As a more recent hire, I have been astounded by the efforts that FMP makes to create a positive employee experience. One of the most notable and unique ways that FMP does this is by heavily investing in internal training and learning initiatives and truly caring about developing and bettering their employees. The reason why this makes such an impact for the employee, as well as the organization, may not be as simple as it seems. In addition to exploring the benefits of investing in employees, we asked several seasoned FMPers about their perceptions of the internal training and learning initiatives at FMP.
Why should organizations care about internal training and learning initiatives?
The cost of acquiring experienced employees, the cost of losing quality employees, and the disruptions in work when an employee leaves are substantial. To balance these costs and remain profitable, as well as high functioning, companies need to retain their employees for as long as possible. This is especially important when the employee is a high performer and/or has a skillset that is in high-demand or difficult to find. These key employees will have opportunities for work elsewhere and it is up to the organization to find ways to dissuade these employees from leaving.
Employees leave organizations for a vast array of reasons including (but not limited to) a lack of job satisfaction, a lack of organizational commitment, an imbalance in the tangibles (e.g., pay and benefits) and the intangibles (e.g., relationships and work/life balance) that accompany a job, and when employees don’t feel support from their organization.
What can organizations do to retain key employees?
One of the ways organizations can influence the way employees view the organizational experience and retention rates is through training and learning initiatives. Training is an investment that provides employees with unique knowledge, skills, and abilities that add value to the organization and allow for high performance on tasks necessary to achieve organizational goals. Training impacts the organization through at least three mechanisms-
- Increasing organizational performance (e.g., profitability, effectiveness, productivity, and operating revenue per employee) due to employees having greater skills and abilities.
- Enacting social exchange theory (i.e., organizations provide socioemotional benefits and employees reciprocate), which suggests that employees who learn how to better perform their job due to training and learning initiatives may reciprocate with increased effort and commitment.
- Harnessing the symbolic value of training. When employees perceive that organizations are taking the time and money to invest in their development it signals that the organization values their contributions and cares about their futures. This perception can cause an increase in employee’s attachment to the organization as well as an increase in the willingness of employees to work hard for the organization’s success.
What do FMPers think?
“I think the reasons that organizations care about internal training and learning come from two different perspectives. From the organization’s perspective, it recognizes and addresses the rapidly changing landscape created by technology advances resulting in the creation of different types of jobs. From an employee’s perspective, employees are considering their market value and career potential/trajectory and recognize the importance of having certain skills and continually acquiring new skills, certifications, and credentials in order to progress in their careers. Therefore, employees will look for organizations that provide and encourage such opportunities.” – Shrish Willett (5 years at FMP)
“Organizations need to promote learning and development because it increases both tangible and intangible resources and capabilities – which in turn leads to flexibility and adaptability within the organization. People who learn new skills and ideas are poised to apply them in an increasingly changing environment. Organizations can pivot faster when they have more resources to apply to a change.” – Alexandra Flagg (1 year at FMP)
What Internal Training and Learning Initiatives Does FMP Have?
FMP has a designated learning committee that arranges and deploys both formal and informal training and learning initiatives. Below are some examples of recent initiatives.
Project Management Professional (PMP) certification was offered to FMP’s project managers as a way to show our clients that our employees have what it takes to perform at a higher standard of project management.
Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification was offered to all of FMP’s consultants allowing for an enhancement in our consultant’s proficiency in agile and scrum practices.
The Oral Presentation Skills Coaching Program is about to start, offering interactive coaching to increase effectiveness at presenting and public speaking.
The Project Management Series was offered to introduce project management fundamentals such as project financials, project planning, and project execution.
It’s Just Lunch (IJL) sessions are a key component to FMP’s knowledge sharing and learning development efforts. Employees volunteer to share skills and abilities they have acquired with others, as well as share valuable insights discovered during their consulting experiences. Some of the most recent IJLs include:
- R Coding Series – Introducing and applying a comprehensive statistical and graphical programming language
- The Six Sources of Influence – Introducing the six sources of influences and how they can be used to successfully produce substantial and sustainable change
- Lean Writing – Identifying common pitfalls when writing and how to combat them to become more concise and impactful
- Qualtrics Training Series – Introducing Qualtrics, developing a range of surveys, and analyzing the results
How can organizations maximize the benefits of training and learning initiatives?
Having all of these opportunities is wonderful, but unless an organization takes certain steps, these initiatives won’t benefit the organization to their fullest potential. In order to maximize the benefits of training and learning initiatives, organizations must cultivate and promote a learning culture.
Organizational Learning Culture
Organizational culture is a system of shared beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, behavioral norms, artifacts, and patterns of behavior. To facilitate engagement in training and learning, an organization must have a culture that promotes and supports the development of its employees. A learning culture demonstrates an organization’s capacity for change and promotes knowledge sharing and growth opportunities for all of its employees. If an organization can create a learning culture, there can be an improvement in participation in learning courses, knowledge sharing practices, job satisfaction, productivity, and profitability.
What do FMPers think?
“I think our learning culture is very employee driven – you get out of it what you put in it. We are promoting learning within and outside FMP. For example, we recently partnered with George Mason University (GMU) to aid in learning within their curriculum. The best part of learning at FMP is that you can drive your own learning, you can find your own interests and dive deeper into that. It isn’t standardized and everything is encouraged. I feel like we are not doing training to check a box, it is deliberate and thoughtful, and we aren’t just going through the motions.” – Katey Erck (3 years at FMP)
“FMP has a learning culture in that we have learning opportunities across a fairly wide range of areas through IJLs, as well as the occasional more formal learning opportunity. However, in my experience most of the learning at FMP takes place through collaboration and supporting projects in areas that you may be less proficient in. At FMP, it’s completely normal, and encouraged, to talk with individuals who have more experience in specialized areas and learn how they would approach a given situation. The people at FMP are always willing to share their knowledge and expertise, which in my opinion has helped me to learn and be more effective across all of my projects. I don’t think this willingness and openness to share and learn together exists in too many other companies to the extent that it does with FMP.” – Kyle Dobson (2.5 years at FMP)
Training and learning initiatives are highly important to employees, especially employees at FMP. When an organization dedicates the time and resources to develop their employees and cultivate a learning culture, they will benefit on many levels, including increased job performance, job satisfaction, job commitment, and a reduction in turnover intentions. Becoming a learning organization inspires growth at individual and organizational levels allowing for all to become more competitive and successful. Invest in your employees and they will invest in the organization.
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