How To Make Training Investments Really Pay Off

Most agencies think training is important for their employees—but many think it applies only to onboarding. You may find where you work that after the first few months of someone’s employment (or volunteer position), training tapers off. Daily tasks start to seem more important than training investments.

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Not so. Agencies like yours have many reasons to keep up on professional development opportunities through the entire duration of a person’s employment.

Train your staff the whole time they’re employed.

Training your staff throughout the year, and throughout their employ is an investment that will pay off. Here are three compelling reasons:

  1. It’s what employees want. Investment in training is one of the top reasons workers apply to organizations. If you making it clear you’ll offer these professional development opportunities in job ads and through the interviewing process, you’ll get more applicants who are dedicated and come ready to offer their new skills.
  2. It sparks motivation. Learning new skills can keep employees engaged and dedicated to their jobs. It really helps if you can merge training with staff learning goals.
  3. It creates qualified employees If you invest in training for your existing staff, you can hire and promote from within. Hiring processes are expensive and time-consuming. Tapping into current talent is a shortcut that can pay off, and if you know the employee, you also have an idea of their work ethic and dedication.

Let your staff use their new skills.

We recently conducted a survey of a professional development course we offered. The results were positive:

  • 70% said the course gave them the tools they directly needed for work
  • 90% said they had significantly increased competence in the topic
  • one person said they used the course to kick-start a syringe exchange program in their community

Exactly the kinds of results we love to see.

But when we asked how much importance learners’ managers placed on the skills and concepts they picked up, the results were less encouraging. More than a third said their managers did little to let them use their new skills.

Uh oh.

Investing in training for your health staff is a smart move. It sets employers to have loyal, motivated workers who can do more on the job. Companies that invest $1500 or more for training, per employee per year, average 24 percent higher profits than companies with lower yearly training investments, according to HR Magazine. These figures are proof that training serves the organization well and increases the health of the community.

While many employers recognize the value of investing in training, too many neglect this second step. They have to let people use what they’ve learned. Health worker training is of little use when that education ends with the last day of class.

Here’s the secret to making sure investments in training pay off: make it easy for employees to learn, make it easy for them to share that knowledge, and set you and your staff up for success.

Review your organizational goals before you register anyone in training. Your staff may love a course on creating walkable neighborhoods, but it doesn’t matter if your program’s focus is on oral health. (Read 11 Things To Know About Setting Training Program Goals.)

When employees are done with a new training program, ask them to suggest new programs or improvements for existing ones based on their experience. Refer to earlier example of the syringe exchange program, which originated in a course forum discussion between two people at opposite sides of the country.

Ask participants to share the knowledge they just learned. Ask them to prepare a presentation to give to the rest of the care team, or have them summarize some of the most salient resources in an email to your whole organization.

Repeat with every person at every educational opportunity.

Start now by thinking about your training programs as part of your company culture and strategic plan. Continue to evolve the program to keep up with best practices, changes in clinical guidelines, or outside research like community health needs assessments.

Originally published May 16, 2016, updated January 04, 2021

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