December 23, 2016

Is Your Company Missing Out on Its Most Valuable Training Resource?


Many businesses spend exorbitant amounts of money on external training programs. They bring in experts to train their workers or send employees to far-flung locations to gain new skills. Or maybe they just plop employees in a conference room with several hours worth of training videos. While all of these methods have some value, they overlook the most valuable training resource a company has in its arsenal: the employees themselves.

Who knows the job better than someone who has been doing it for a long time? The most valuable skills an employee can learn often come from their coworkers. Eighty-two percent of employees share important information in person with their colleagues, according to a survey from speachme, a micro-learning and peer-to-peer skills and knowledge transfer platform. Unfortunately, most training programs aren’t designed to capture this informal sharing of information, so when an employee quits, whatever knowledge they have about their job often leaves with them.

Don’t Lose Valuable Information

Outdated training programs risk losing valuable information. Companies that don’t have training programs that makes room for employee input need to consider updating their methods.

“We feel that there are a variety of reasons why companies are not updating their training programs,” says Kader Garnier Aw, COO of speachme. “Most of the time, it is probably due to cost. Traditional learning management systems are typically very expensive, and we wouldn’t be surprised if companies see the cost and decide their current program is better than paying the high price to update.”

The amount of training information that’s currently lost at companies is staggering. Sixty-eight percent of employees have not been trained by the individual they replaced, and 61 percent have had a colleague leave the company with knowledge or skills that weren’t documented anywhere, according to the speachme survey.

“In order to move away from a top-down training model and incorporate employee experience, companies need to listen to their employees,” Garnier Aw says. “The data from our survey revealed that the majority of employees feel they have a skill set or area of expertise that is valuable to their company in terms of productivity, and nearly half agree that they could create better employee training content than their employer.”

GroupThat being said, Garnier Aw also notes that it’s important for employers to learn what their employees actually want from training programs and design their processes accordingly.

“The next step is leveraging a training program that incorporates user-generated content, like speachme,” Garnier Aw says. “We provide employees with the opportunity to easily share their knowledge and learn from one another.”

Instead of letting talent move on without documenting what they have to offer, companies should be providing existing employees with the opportunity to pass their knowledge on to other workers. That way, when they leave, their most effective methods and skills don’t have to leave with them.

“It is imperative that companies retain the knowledge and skills of employees who leave the company, and the first step in accomplishing that is by evaluating the systems in place to capture information,” Garnier Aw says. “Companies need to embrace technology and programs that their employees will want to use to share information.”

Your company training programs are probably out of date anyway, so a review could be in order. Many survey respondents reported that they’ve never seen training programs change at their company. When reviewing these training programs, consider whether your employees could add something to the process. Even if you think they can’t, give them a chance. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

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Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.