Human Resources

Make Training Count Across Generations

By Brian Winterstein

In a workplace made up of multiple generations, it can be difficult to ensure that your training speaks to all employees. However, there are still ways you can make training count. Brian Winterstein, vice president of human resources for Liberty Tax Service, explains how.

For the first time in your company’s history, you likely have five generations of employees in the workplace. Traditionalists (also known as the Silent Generation), Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Generation Z. Not all of them learn in the same manner, and not all of them are located at the company headquarters. Training, then, can be a great challenge for your organization. You have company goals that everyone is charged with meeting, but how can you create a program that works for everyone, wherever they are, and that delivers on those goals?

It’s an issue we all face as human resources professionals, but as big as the mountain may seem, we can climb it. The key is understanding your employees and taking advantage of the tools available to you to provide effective training. Follow the steps below and you will be able to create effective training programs that count.

Know the Needs

We aren’t schoolteachers, but we can borrow a lesson from them to help build a great training program. Each fall, teachers hand out tests to their students. The tests look at basic skills and assess where students are. Teachers know where their students need to be by the end of the school year, so the tests help them create a roadmap to get students from where they are in the fall to where they need to be in the spring.

The same type of assessment is essential to developing an effective training program. To help your employees grow, you need to know where they are and what skills they need to improve upon so that they can meet company objectives. To learn the answers to those questions, you will need to conduct a needs-based analysis. The goal is to gather data from employees that can be used to identify who needs training and what type of training is most needed to help meet company goals.

Before your needs-based analysis, it is imperative you ensure that employees understand that the goal of training is to help them grow and meet company objectives. You should encourage honesty from employees, because without it, you will find it difficult to create an effective program. You also want support from their superiors, because effective training requires engagement from the whole company.

Connect the Dots

The data gathered from your needs-based analysis should give you a clearer picture of the gap between performance needed to meet company objectives and current performance. Along with determining what needs to be done, you should also be able to answer the question of why things aren’t being done now.

Training will be the solution for some of these issues, but you may find other answers, too, including information sharing, improving internal communication, and more that will help employees better meet company objectives. Once you have determined where training is needed and can be most effective, you can create a program that meets your employees’ needs and the company’s strategic goals.

Remember, training does not have to be expensive, but whatever investment you make, the goal should be clear—to help employees more effectively meet long- and short-term company goals and to improve themselves.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, Winterstein provides a few more steps employers can take to make training count.