Training: Secret to business success?

employee development


LinkedIn published their annual list of the most sought-after skills employers are looking for in 2017. Amongst the skills noted, it was great to see data analytics take the spotlight, with statistical analysis and data mining holding strong again this year at #2, and for the first time ever – data presentations, which is visualizing data, making the list in the #8 spot.

Considering the push to boost innovation across industries – in particular, through better understanding of data – it’s no surprise that the demand for data analytics skills is as high as ever.

So what does this mean for the future of employment?

It’s a reminder that, in today’s competitive business environment, talent retention and career progression go hand in hand with business success. Indeed, people are an organisation’s most valued asset and as such, employers should ensure the right programmes are in place to help their employees grow and thrive. A comprehensive training or fast-track development programme is one way to instill an engaged and thriving workforce.

When it comes to training, organisations should ensure they are offering the latest technology and most relevant skills. Looking at the LinkedIn results, and specifically at stastical analysis and data mining, there are a number of ways to train and equip employees in this area.

Here are four key points I’ve found helpful for fostering employee development and improving staff retention:

Cross-department training

Employees with adaptable and collaborative working environments tend to be more productive and efficient with their work. The same thought can be applied to internal training.

One way of doing this is through providing cross-department opportunities. For example, bringing the marketing team alongside the sales team to learn about latest negotiation techniques. Or sharing new technology tools across departments so that teams understand the ultimate benefits to the business.

This allows employees to improve their proficiency levels within their role and outside of their current responsibilities. Additionally, it can be motivating for employees to learn how processes work throughout the business, from start to finish and how they contribute to the final results.

Looking externally

Another way of doing this is by sourcing external experts to come into the office and deliver a workshop on a current industry trend. You might not always have the people available internally; which is why looking beyond the four walls of your office provides a great opportunity to explore new and diverse subjects.

One example is at Tableau – we have monthly meetings where we bring together the entire EMEA business. During these meetings, we invite a diverse range of external experts – from business partners to NGOs – to share key learnings and present examples of how data analytics is supporting their work. Employees walk away with a fresh perspective that helps them tackle challenges and develop new ideas.

Self-paced training

It’s no secret that in many cases, small businesses don’t have a lot of resources to pour huge sums of funding into training. In-person training will always remain a preferable method of employee training; however online solutions via videos, webinars and whitepapers are an effective way of up-skilling employees.

Take data analytics skills as an example. There are a number of online training videos and courses that allow empoloyees to learn at their own pace, and then apply that learing to their day to day work. Some great resources are online learning platforms such as and Pluralsight which offer a number of tech and data analytics courses and at varying levels of expertise.

When resources are tight, it’s important for employers to be flexible in their approach to training. This means being aware of the latest online training tools and giving options to employees so they can learn at their own pace and at a time when it’s convenient.

Keep training relevant

This may seem obvious but providing training that is relevant to not just the role but to the broader industry landscape is vital for the continuing success of your business. Matching skills and jobs has become a high-priority for many businesses which now recognise that skills are a critical asset for employee motivation and retention.

What does this mean for employers? Ensure you are aware of what’s happening in your industry – the latest trends, research and developments – so that you bring bigger picture thinking to the kind of training you offer. With this perspective, you’ll be well placed to offer the most relevant training to employees.

There will always be new competitors and innovations popping up. The latest LinkedIn report shows us that, to stay ahead, employers should be asking if they are skilling up employees with the most relevant and consistent training. To those that think of training as a ‘nice to have’ incentive, think again. In today’s business environment, ignoring the development of important skills now could mean losing out tomorrow.

James Eiloart, SVP EMEA, Tableau