Why employee training is the best return on investment for businesses

With Britain’s recovery lagging behind all the other G7 nations and GDP predicted to be 4% smaller in 2022 than expected, it’s no surprise that executives are focusing narrowly on their primary KPIs.

It’s difficult to give attention to your employee training programs in this economic climate, and easy to push them to the bottom of your list of priorities.

And yet employee training remains one of the best strategies you could adopt for helping your business to survive, recover, and grow. It’s a given that you need training programs to onboard new employees, but their impact goes far beyond onboarding.

When you invest in engaging employee training programs that help employees develop their skills, advance their careers, and feel connected to your business goals, you reap the benefits in almost every corner of your organization. Here are some of the reasons why employee training delivers the best return on your business investment.

Consolidate your digital transformation

Between the shift to work from home and the need to provide digital services to customers who are shielding, COVID-19 forced enterprises to advance their digital transformation more than they may have believed possible. It’s estimated that the pandemic accelerated digital transformation in the UK by an average of 5.3 years, and 96% of enterprise decision-makers agreed that their company’s digital transformation plans sped up in 2020.

This is good news, on the whole, but it does mean that many companies are struggling to consolidate the changes. It’s a critical juncture to offer training to all employees, to ensure that everyone in the organization understands the importance of the changes that have occurred, is aware of the long-term benefits, and understands how to use new digital tools and workflows so that your digital transformation doesn’t founder.

Raise employee confidence in their roles

COVID-19 brought an immense upheaval to the world of work. Some employees have been home on furlough for much of the last 12 months and may well have lost some of their working edge. Many enterprises had to cut jobs, change work priorities, and rearrange roles so that they are positioned better to respond to the changed business world, but this left employees feeling uncertain about their tasks and/or nervous about meeting their responsibilities.

This is the moment to offer employees the opportunity to refresh their skills and learn or relearn how to use your tech tools, especially if you’ve added new platforms to support remote work. Employee training ensures your employees know what is expected of them and restores their confidence in their own abilities, so that they can deliver the results you need.

Shore up cybersecurity weaknesses

There are always bad actors waiting to take advantage of every upheaval, and sure enough, COVID-19 brought out a rash of hackers and cyberthieves eager to make the most of the chaos. Attacks increased by as much as 31% during 2020, and British businesses lost over £6.2 million to cyber scams. Phishing emails multiplied exponentially alongside infection rates.

Although most companies have now set up cloud firewall, VPNs for employees working remotely, and other defences that were overlooked in the hasty switch to WFH, only employee training can close human vulnerabilities. It’s telling that the most common type of attack was an email or social media hack, making up 53% of all attacks.

It’s vital to provide ongoing employee training that keeps employees on the alert for suspicious emails and reinforces the importance of strong passwords and obeying business protocols regarding the use of personal devices and home wifi networks.

Raise your brand reputation

If you think employee training only affects employees, think again. Employees who feel that their employers care about their professional development are more engaged, and engaged employees deliver superior customer service. This in turn has an enormous influence on customer satisfaction, with 65% of British consumers saying that a positive experience affects their purchase decisions more than marketing.

Consumers are also increasingly choosing where to shop based on how companies treat their employees. Metro magazine ran a list of enterprises that treated employees poorly during the pandemic, to encourage people to boycott them. On the flip side, consumers trust employee messages far more than those from the brand itself. When your training programs align employees with your values and communicate your vision, your employees will convey them successfully to your target market and thereby drive more sales.

Support long-term business strategy

COVID-19 has forced every enterprise to rethink their long-term business strategy, but skills gaps can hold you back, especially if you aren’t sure where those gaps lie. With digital transformation moving so fast, many enterprises are coming up short in data science roles, and even lack employees with a basic understanding of advanced digital tools.

Research by McKinsey estimates that around 94% of the UK workforce needs reskilling to keep up with changing workplace demands by 2030, two-thirds could lack basic digital skills, and over 10 million may be short on leadership, communication, and decision-making soft skills. The latter will be key to delivering the effective CX that differentiates your company from the competition, but only 48% of enterprises are investing in building soft skills.

90% of employers are struggling to hire the talent they need, emphasizing the importance of employee training programs. Employee training is the only effective way to remain aware of the gaps in your workforce, maintain both soft and hard skills, and ensure that you can draw on the talent you need to complete your projects and drive innovation.

Employee training is your investment in business success

In a challenging economic and business environment, enterprises need their employee training programs more than ever. By helping to drive business strategy, close cybersecurity wormholes, underpin your digital transformation, and boost both employee confidence and your brand reputation, employee training programs can deliver some of the best RoI on any business initiative.