Training your people is considered to be a guaranteed winning investment for your organisation, so why wouldn’t you do it? Kevin Kevany looks at some training and education options for 2017.
Worried that you’ve missed the chance to invest in Auckland property? Thinking, perhaps, you should anticipate the ‘crash’ and buy gold instead?
The reality is that there are so many influences and factors that could make either of those options a winner – or a loser. Or neither.
So why not invest in training and educating your staff in 2017?
Steven Naudé, director Professional, Organisation and Executive Development, at Massey University and CEO of The Institute of Management NZ, would argue that it is a guaranteed winning investment delivering “the highest returns of any type of outlay”, citing statistics including the following:
- The ROI for companies which invest in training is seven times the initial investment (Source: PwC 2012).
- Organisations with a learning and development framework demonstrate up to 250 percent higher productivity (Source: Scales, 2013).
- Companies with excellent cultural support for training have 13 percent stronger business results.
- Businesses which take a strategic approach to talent management have a 40 percent lower staff turnover; double the revenue per employee and 38 percent higher engagement from their workforce. Engaged people work with passion and apply their innovation and dedication to the business, Naudé says.
But what type of training is best, you might ask?
Brightstar Training managing director, Steve Scott says “While the shift to various methods of online, mobile and newly emerging augmented-reality learning gains momentum, is it what people really want and what the business needs?
“Our market research, earlier last year, shows there is still a clear preference – 76 percent – for in-person, face-to-face, classroom-based training. Additionally, other research (two recent studies by Training Industry, Inc.), has demonstrated it is also the most effective method of training for retention, sustainable learning and behaviour change.
“These results are supported by local and international data confirming people still want to learn in person, face-to-face with a skilled facilitator closing the skill and development gaps. Transformative and social learning theories suggest learning is a cognitive process which takes place in social environments,” says Scott.
“Transformative learning is achieved by discussing concepts with others, critically analysing evidence and considering alternative points of view. In this way, true transformation can powerfully occur through development of new frames of reference, more self-reflective practice and understanding of alternative viewpoints,” he adds.
Scott’s research also shows that when price is removed as a factor, the most important variable in a training package is the method of training.
He emphasises personal development, soft skills, leadership training and technical training are the most popular types of training, receiving the highest investment. He also points to the strong understanding amongst recipients of the need for training, in order to reach organisational goals, and that more than three-quarters of those surveyed believe providing ongoing training for employees is important for staff retention.
“Despite this understanding, only 22 percent reported their organisations measure the impact of training well.”
Training takes commitment
Sasha Lockley is a self-described “18-year-old university dropout”, who believes the tranche of qualifications she has subsequently gained required personal interaction to have the imparted knowledge ‘stick’.
The dynamic head of operations at Avanti Finance was a Top 5 finalist in the 2016 Deloitte Top 200 Young Executive of the Year, is a trained classical singer, flautist and pianist, and mother of a young son. “We all have juggles in life and the key thing is we can get caught up in the word ‘busy’, but eventually it’s just a mindful choice,” she says.
Bottom-line, says Lockley, if you want to work and advance yourself at the same time, you make the time.
She is currently finishing the course-work on a Master of Advanced Leadership Practice at Massey University, with a dissertation to come. This to go with her CPA, ACCA and FCCA achievements and an Oxford Brookes University, BSc, Applied Accounting.
Being an outside-the-box thinker and doer, she’s looking for ideas for her thesis looking at “how to engage today’s young creative thinkers (including diversity of thought and learning) so that they can find the solutions for tomorrow’s problems”.
A quarter of Avanti’s staff are following in her footsteps on an IMNZ internal leadership programme, part-time.
Tom Street, founder of the INTENT Group would endorse: “In the dynamic world of business, what worked yesterday won’t suit today. Tomorrow will be different again. For a business to be able to continually improve, staff need to observe, sense and adapt to changing circumstances. This requires an active learning approach, tailored for every individual and company.
“Teaching is no longer limited to the classroom. The transference of knowledge and capability is much more a function of the student learning what they need, when they need it, and building a broader more flexible capability,”
“We’ve long understood the need to make education and training more engaging, by providing more active learning environments, using various simulations to provide experiential learning.”
An example is Polymer Systems International Ltd (PSI), whose team achieved a 233 percent increase in production within weeks of completing a simulation involving the construction of aeroplanes using Lego pieces.
“Few organisations can spare the time to gather several students in one place, at one time and address their individual learning needs,” continues Street. “So for us, the next evolutionary phase has been to address the challenges of distance and time availability.
“We now collaborate with technology provider Jumpshift Development, which understands learning methods, and use their Knowledge-to-Action platform with its own in-built learning methodology – developed by a team of highly-educated entrepreneurs and specialists. Using their own experiences of learning situations and extensive research about the brain, how it learns and retains information, they developed the D-I-Y framework (Diagnose-Inspire-Your Action).
“This provides the learner with a structured process to use which, over time, becomes their self-directed learning tool, empowering them to convert their knowledge into action. As they realise they have just applied what they’ve learnt, a powerful feedback loop occurs encouraging further learning, while building confidence.”
James Wilkinson, The Southern Institute of Technology’s projects coordinator, team leader and marketing executive assistant, points to their ‘Zero Fees Scheme’ which allows New Zealand citizens and residents, along with permanent residents living here during studies, as an additional reason to choose SIT. The scheme applies only to the base tuition fee attached to each eligible programme of study.
“To retain this incentive, students on the scheme must meet a number of conditions. These include demonstrating ‘satisfactory academic progress’; at least 80 percent attendance (or otherwise specified by programme); and adhere to the programme’s specific rules and requirements and the Student Code.
“Our flagship business and commerce programmes are the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Enterprise, and three-year Bachelor of Commerce, which offers a choice of three majors – Accounting, Management or Marketing. We believe both programmes offer an unrivalled mix of academic and practical learning, and are delivered by top tutors.
Final year Bachelor of Commerce students complete a consultation paper that provides a solution to a real need, as identified by their own employer or other industry beneficiary.
“If you’re a school leaver, changing careers or wanting to update your skills to return to the workforce, our Business Administration courses are a fantastic first step,” Wilkinson says.
SIT is also a leading provider of project management training and business leadership and coaching education. It’s delivered by SIT2LRN distance learning or flexible mixed-mode delivery at SIT’s Christchurch campus.
Flexible study options
The Auckland Institute of Studies (AIS) is an independent, degree-granting institution offering NZQA-approved degree, diploma and language qualifications, including TESOL.
AIS demonstrates a strong student-focus. This includes:
- Offering a flexible three-semester system, which allows students to fast-track their studies, get a head start and flexible entry dates.
- Providing career assistance and support during employment issues, during and after their studies – including arranging interviews and internships with potential employers.
- Students experience ‘expert personalised education through personal contact with knowledgeable and approachable teaching faculty’.
- Ensuring a ‘friendly, nurturing environment’ which balances and supports AIS’s rigorous and demanding academic programmes.
“A good example of this would also be that classes in our Business Administration programmes are concentrated around weekends to fit in around employment schedules, making these classes an ideal way to upskill and study while you continue to earn,” says Kasanita Holani, student services-marketing executive at AIS.
AIS is also proud of its Postgraduate studies in Business Administration, says Holani.
“These will help prepare you for management-level employment opportunities and career advancement. Our highly interactive format of these programmes, lectures, workshops and seminars, enables you to practise and apply your learning in an environment which imitates real-world business situations.
“The Business Administration programmes are practical programmes with theoretical, applied and research underpinnings. If you’re already working at a management level, study here will enable you to increase and broaden your skills base and enhance your ability to think laterally.
“Even at an early stage of their working life, our Business Administration programmes help students gain experiential learning, sound corporate values, professional skills development and overall personal growth.”
The bigger picture
Lurking in the back of the minds of all SME owner-managers is that fundamental fear of: “What if we invest in training our staff and they leave?”
“The real question,” says IMNZ’s Naudé, “is what happens if we don’t invest and they stay? “Training should be part of a greater development plan for the business, and involves succession planning, business growth and strategy. So selecting the right people to train is crucial, and selecting the right kind of training is important. Retention is easy to measure.
“Don’t get me wrong, training can’t change everything; if you have a toxic culture in the workplace, a single training course is not going to change that. You need to look ‘under the hood’ to identify the real problems in the business and then training can be part of a greater solution.”
Naudé believes that depending on their personal circumstances and age, staff will leave if they feel that they are not being developed and that their current role offers them no room for growth.
“It may not always be possible to give people a salary increase or promotion, but generally speaking, people value an investment in improving their skills as far more important than money or rank.
“In return, they will apply their new skills in the workplace and remain more loyal to the organisation.”