Developing employee skills is a mutually beneficial situation. Your company benefits from a more knowledgeable and capable employee while your employee gains additional skills or qualifications. This gives employees a chance to further their career and increase their earning potential in the long term while making them more effective and efficient at their current job.

Training and skills development help underperforming employees improve and encourage talented employees, allowing both groups to grow within the business. It enables both individual employees and your business to meet their full potential.

Some business owners worry that training and development will cause employees to seek work elsewhere. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that driven and successful employees will lose interest in their job and leave if it doesn’t allow them to develop their skills.

In the end, the risk of losing your employees because of their enhanced skills is outweighed by the benefits to your business of having highly skilled employees. 

Here are some steps to developing your employees’ skills. 

Set a training budget

Set aside money for staff training and development in your annual budget as you’d budget for other essential business expenses. You could claim the training costs as a business expense or negotiate more expensive training as part of a salary package with employees.

Conduct a skills gap assessment

Explore the gap between the skills your business needs and your staff’s skills. By identifying the gaps, you can easily see where it makes sense to pay for training and development and create a policy around closing them.

For example, suppose a current employee needs to develop their skills in using new technology to make your business more efficient. In that case, you could then opt to pay for a course that teaches new technology implementation skills. 

Draw up a training policy

A training policy doesn’t need to be too in-depth but should set out any special requirements. That way, your employees know what training you’ll consider and what conditions they must meet to benefit from company-sponsored training.

You could require that:

  • Training needs to be job-related for the company to pay for it.
  • Employees pay 50% of the course fee if training is helpful to the company but not necessary for their job.
  • Employees reimburse costs if they don’t complete or pass the course due to reasons outside of work.
  • Employees may be given paid days to attend training seminars. 

Discuss career goals and opportunities

During performance reviews or conversations with employees, discuss short- and long-term career goals. Then, based on your skills gap assessment, you can decide how to match their goals with any short and long-term opportunities available in your business.

Training in areas that do not further your employee’s short- or long-term career goals will not be embraced as enthusiastically, so it makes sense to plan future development to balance both business needs and employee goals.

Identify employee strengths and weaknesses

One of the best ways to get agreement on the appropriate training is to collaboratively identify the strengths and weaknesses of each employee for any current and future roles they might play.

Start by identifying the skills needed for the job. Next, ask them to identify their abilities and list their strengths. Then ask them to identify the weaknesses (or areas where they feel less confident) in their skill set. Phrase this carefully and be clear that you’re not looking to be critical but to find areas where additional training would help them perform current and future roles more confidently.

Agree on training objectives

Use the information you’ve obtained from exploring career goals and opportunities and examining strengths and weaknesses to identify suitable training options for each employee and collaboratively agree on training objectives.

Write down the objectives, then plan how these will be achieved and the timeframes you expect them to be completed.

Monitor progress and request feedback

Monitor progress by reviewing the agreed objectives at least once a year to evaluate progress. This allows you to revise the training objectives and plans where necessary.

Consider scheduling regular meetings to ask staff for feedback. These can be as informal or formal as you like, ranging from a quick conversation to asking staff to complete a questionnaire or conduct a formal presentation on what they have learnt.

You’ll want the following:

  • A quick summary of what was learned (the take-home benefits).
  • Feedback on whether the training met the employee’s expectations.
  • Feedback on whether the training met your business’s objectives.

Give your employee adequate notice that you’ll be asking for feedback. This helps you to evaluate courses or training service providers to use or avoid in the future.

Final thoughts

Training and skills development is beneficial for an employee and extremely valuable for your business. The gained skills and knowledge are helpful, but your employees will feel truly valued, which is an even greater benefit. So prioritise skill development in your business and enjoy the benefits as time goes on.