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Idea Box: Is an Employee Training & Development Program the Key to Solving Your Labor Challenges?
Recruit and retain more employees with a new training & development program.

By Staff
Date Posted: 8/1/2018

In a tight labor market where unemployment is low, finding and keeping good blue-collar workers is a real challenge. This is especially true in labor-intensive industries, such as wood products and pallet manufacturing and recycling.

But in a recent article in Human Resources Management, professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicated that implementing training and development programs for non-skilled or low-skilled workers can be very effective for both recruiting and retaining employees.

Why? According to the article, such programs not only encourage employees to learn and do well, but they send a message to workers that the job they are now doing can lead to bigger and better opportunities within the company if they work hard.

Will an employee training program cost you money, time and effort? Yes, it will, but the return can be well worth what you put into it. The key is to stop looking at employees in terms of how much they cost your organization. Instead, think of the money you spend on recruitment and retention as an investment in your most valuable asset – your employees.

If you don’t already have an employee training and development program, but are open to starting one, it can take some time to build such a program from scratch. So, here are some things to consider implementing in your program or adding to your existing program to make it better. And remember, training and development programs aren’t limited to only developing skills that your employees require on the job, but they can include any skill that will help them to have better and more meaningful lives.

• Start a Peer-to-Peer Training Program – One of the easiest and least expensive ways to train new employees is to pair them with an experienced employee. This not only provides supervision to the new employee in the critical early stage of employment where they’re most likely to quit, but there is someone there to assist them when they have questions, need someone to demonstrate the right way to do a task or just need a word of encouragement. This also gives the more experienced employee more responsibility and a chance to develop their skills as a leader and role model.

• Subscribe to a Training Service – While you’ll have to educate employees on the specifics of your own business, you don’t have to build all training from scratch. There are online training services that your company can subscribe to in order to provide employees with basic skills. Courses range from topics like software/computer programs, safety, first aid, and complying with OSHA regulations, to how-to strategies for improving communication and interpersonal skills.

• Take Advantage of Area Resources – Take advantage of free resources in your area. There are likely state or local government agencies and organizations in your areas that will offer free training to your staff on various topics. These can range from how to manage a budget and save for the future to how to administer first aid in an emergency.

• Partner with a Community College – Many community colleges, and even some other universities and colleges, have workforce training programs that involve partnering with local businesses. In such programs, the college will often train students in skills the businesses are looking for in employees. This helps students to successfully transition into the workforce, while helping businesses to find employees that already have some of the skills they require.

• Provide Education Assistance – If an employee wants to go back to school to better themselves so they can advance in your company, consider a tuition-assistance program. Or let’s say a large percentage of your workforce does not speak English or doesn’t speak it well, consider having a language tutor come into your workplace one afternoon a week to work with employees in small groups or on an individual basis.

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