Time out to train!

Larry Crowne

Are you up for going back to school?

Training is important and can potentially be life changing. Just ask Tom Hanks character Larry Crowne in the film of the same title. There are very real benefits to training:-

  • Staff learn new skills
  • Increases motivation, retention, confidence and job satisfaction
  • Staff refresh skills and keep up to date with new information
  • Can improve ‘soft skills ‘ such as leadership and communication
  • Customers benefit from better service
  • A comprehensive professional development strategy helps recruit top candidates
  • Increases efficiency, time management and productivity
  • Public courses also allow them to network and hear best practice from their own and  other sectors

As a return on investment (ROI) ongoing training has an impact on productivity and consequently bottom line. In Dubai many companies understand the value of training and their training departments work hard to present options that meet their specific needs. For a better ROI they need to source training providers that:-

  • Meet their employee and organisational needs.
  • Have courses that cover the skills required (take time to read course objectives).
  • Can customize their training and apply it to their industry.
  • Can provide the training when you need it.
  • Demonstrate good value.
  • Offer ongoing support.
  • Have a good market reputation.
  • Have quality trainers experienced in the local Gulf market.
  • Can help identify the ‘skills gap’ your employees might have. Do you know what they don’t know?

One of the major objections to training “I don’t have time” is actually indicative of the need for training. If well supported by management, training initiatives would not be the cause of employees breaking out in a rash thinking about all the work they are missing whilst on a training course. The importance of scheduling training in advance is a solution to this and most providers will have a yearly training calendar at least for their public courses and would only be too delighted to meet to discuss tailored programs.  Booking in advance can also give employees the time they need to plan/arrange/delegate while they are in the training room.   Most employees will want to engage in further training, especially if they are able to gain approval for courses they wish to attend.

Michelle Lewis-Smith the lead training adviser for ISM training recognizes this as a common objection she receives and added,

I can honestly say that getting my clients to attend their 2nd course with ISM is a matter of ‘when can I register’ rather than ‘I don’t have time’. It’s always great to see our clients progression in their career too, over the years you slowly watch their job title change from Sales Executive to Sales Manager to Sales Director to General Manager etc….. These are people that are not afraid to admit that they need a little help/guidance in their development and of course these people act on it rather than worry about it.

Now whilst that may be banging our own drum,  it is true that the individuals that engage in lifelong learning do have an outlook that can keep pace and adapt to the many changes we all experience in our workplace . The staff that know the value of investing time in training will be amongst the most innovative, motivational , able employees with strong performance records and increased company loyalty.

The big question is how to keep your business sustainable and marginalizing the impact training can provide is terminal. If you aren’t constantly developing your own or your staff’s skills you can bet that your competitors are.

Many Dubai companies experience high employee turnover rates and cannot afford to ignore some of the basics of employee retention if they are to retain a competitive advantage. Recruitment and training of replacements is expensive and productivity from them takes time. There is also a cost issue involved with severance packages if the employee has resigned after a successful probationary period. High turnover of staff can have an impact on staff morale. Undoubtedly effective recruitment can mitigate some of the reasons your company is not retaining staff. It is easy to siphon out those who are only applying to hone their skills before moving on during interview ( if they aren’t weeded out before due to job history) by asking the right questions , but does your company continue communicating effectively with employees past a short induction course?

With a predominantly multi-cultural expatriate work force the need to effectively communicate and listen to employees becomes even more paramount. Companies that retain their employees may have the following practices:-

  • Recognition and rewarding of good performance.
  • Mentorship programmes to challenge and support employees.
  • Information sharing.
  • An understanding of change management, sharing decision making.
  • Clearly defined job roles.
  • Opportunity for professional/personal development and career progression.
  • Flexible work hours
  • An inclusive, safe, open and ethical work environment
  • Focus on good leadership and coaching attitudes.
  • Support staff with the resources they need to carry out their function.
  • Have Middle Management that provide a framework for employee success.
  • Clear knowledge of the skills, creativity and experience of staff.
  • Solicit staff feedback through focus groups, evaluation etc.
  • Conduct exit interviews to find out key reasons for employee dissatisfaction.
  • Are prepared to dismiss demotivational managers who consistently fail to motivate their teams.

Today’s employees place value on quality of life, flexibility, a challenging career and a sensible life/work balance.To avoid the hidden costs of high staff turnover companies in Dubai need to firmly address retention as part of their Strategic Planning. Philip Parker, former Chairman with TEC International, the world’s largest coaching organisation and business strategist commented:-

“It is a well worn cliché that employees are a company’s most vital asset. The force of this axiom is increasingly apparent in our knowledge driven world where enterprises are reliant on a skilled, educated workforce to sustain their competitiveness. Any Dubai company that fails to appreciate this essential asset and does not embrace a range of measures to promote the long term retention of its key people cannot expect to be effective competitors and will not be seen as employers of choice. Unless Dubai HR policies place employee retention at the top of their agenda those companies’ very ability to survive will come into question.”