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Can training really enhance employee performance?

julie-freemantleIt’s natural for companies to see a direct need for training in response to new services or provide induction courses for new employees due to expansion. This is a tried and tested way to manage learning and development opportunities in any organisation, not to mention an essential aspect in being able to deliver services to fulfill end users expectations and SLAs. But is there really a value in ‘non-core skills’ training? Julie Freemantle, head of Asset Skills Training investigates

In my role as the head of Asset Skills Training I am often asked to deal with the immediate training requirements of companies.

Firstly, we need to take into account the context that FM companies are working in.

The UK economy is finally growing after the unprecedented financial crash in 2008. Such positive news is highlighted by the latest CBI report that shows growth in Quarter 3 will be in the region of 0.7 per cent; this is on top of 0.7 per cent in the first quarter and 0.9 per cent in the second quarter. On a global basis the UK is mainly outperforming its competitors. Therefore it comes as no surprise that unemployment is falling as the economy improves. As such, the latest report from the Office for National Statistics states that between June and August 2014, the unemployment rate was six per cent, its lowest figure since 2008. This is excellent news for the UK and whilst we still live and operate in uncertain economic times, it is hoped that this upward trend will continue.

The growth in the economy is mainly in the service sector of which FM is a major contributor. Members of The Building Futures Group who work in FM recruitment are telling us that there is growth in jobs in the sector and in fact candidates are receiving multiple job offers and demand is increasing for quality staff.

So, how does this all relate to training and education?

As the economy improves, it is likely that there will be greater movement of staff who will now be looking for their next role in FM. With an increasing transient workforce, many companies may think that it is not worth investing in staff if they are likely to move on taking the investment with them. At face value this makes sense, training costs money and time, and if the recipient of the training leaves they take this value with them. A different perspective is summed up by a quote attributed to various sources:

CFO asks his CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave the company?” CEO answers, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

In the current climate businesses can use training as retention and a recruitment tool. For existing employees training can be seen as an essential aspect of employee development. Using one-to-ones and appraisals, training can be marketed to the employee to show how the company values their commitment to the company, and strengthen employee loyalty. Offering training opportunities can also assist with medium to long term retention. As part of the psychological contract (essentially the understandings and informal obligations between an employer and its employees regarding their mutual expectations of how each will perform their respective roles), training is an essential component, it shows companies value the employee, improves moral and enhances service delivery.

Furthermore, employees are consistently using social business tools such as ‘Glassdoor’ a company review site, where employees and interviewees leave anonymous positive and negative feedback about businesses. Potential employees do review such sites to see if the company culture, salary, professional development and training opportunities match their expectations. As the economy improves and more workers look for their next opportunities it will be increasingly important for companies to be seen in a positive light. Investing in your employees through training and education is more likely to encourage them to leave positive reviews about your business. In turn helping to promote your brand and encourage quality applicants for positions you need to fill.

But what else does employee training and development offer to hardworking businesses? According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), training offers numerous benefits. It can offer more than the immediate skills required to ‘do the job’ by maximising staff potential, linking learning to actions and theory to practice. In FM this is especially pertinent; with complex tenders based on practical and soft FM service benefits, skilled professional staff can truly add value to tenders, pitches and strategic problem solving. Such staff development that focuses on the practical and strategic at all levels is required to help the FM sector deal with an ageing leadership – only by investing in the leaders of tomorrow will we be able to deliver services fit for purpose in the next 10 – 20 years.

CIPD also recognises the benefits to organisations’ HR professionals; well planned training helps them to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) objectives. HR professionals can link training activity to direct business needs now and link to the future via strategic plans. Training then becomes an essential component of organisational development and behaviour, providing a multitude of benefits to all involved.

So far we’ve explored the direct benefits to the individual and the company, but training can offer even more benefits. Monster, the UK wide recruitment site sees training as providing a strong value in recruitment. Companies who have a strong and successful training strategy have a stronger developed brand, which is especially attractive to graduates and mid-career changers. Additionally, companies with a rigorous training and development strategy, who also see the benefit of promoting training opportunities as part of the recruitment process, attract more candidates.

A company’s commitment to training will be heard in the marketplace by job seekers and recruitment professionals through word of mouth and by positive feedback, by current and past employees. What’s more your company reputation for training will be built through those educational establishments, which advise and guide promising talent in the jobs market.

As the economy improves we are likely to see more opportunities in FM for those currently working in and those new to the sector. Competition for the best candidates will increase and savvy companies will be reviewing their employee offering to get the best and retain the best ensuring operational excellence and standards, and recognise that the benefits of investing in training has a ripple effect beyond the employee and the employer.

This article is the first of a regular column focusing on training and education, and I would very much like to hear from you about the issues affecting you in relation to your individual and company training 
and educational needs.

Please email jfreemantle@thebuildingfuturesgroup.com

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