Improving Corporate Training | Preventing Failure

Last updated: May 15, 2023

It has never been more urgent for your company to offer effective training programs to expand workforce skills. But the need for training does not automatically mean your company knows the formula for reskilling and upskilling staff. If you struggle with the timing, goals, and delivery mode for courses and wrestle with justifying the cost to your bosses, there are simple solutions for improving corporate training and preventing the failure of skills development programs.


Now Is the Time to Train for the Future

In a recent survey, McKinsey found that 69 percent of organizations are doing more skill-building now than they did before the pandemic. And they’re investing heavily in development programs. In its annual training industry report, Training magazine found that U.S. companies spent $82.5 billion on workplace training in 2020.


Look at it this way: Your competition provided 55.4 hours of training – the average in 2020, according to Training magazine. Employees know that if you’re not nurturing the skills of your staff, your competition most likely is. Recruitment and retention in the near and distant future could depend on your commitment to high-quality development programming.


The payoff for employees is clear. But investing in your workforce also pays off for your organization and your stakeholders:

  • McKinsey researchers found that organizations implementing the most rigorous upskilling practices have a 2.5 times higher success rate than others.
  • The American Society for Training and Development found that companies offering comprehensive training have a 24 percent higher profit margin than those less committed to workforce development.

Now that we have clarity on why you should dedicate resources to employee training, let’s look at the obstacles that could arise as you implement or expand worker development programs – and easy fixes to get you back on track.


African American man standing in front of whiteboard discussing the importance of improving corporate training programs.

Challenge: You Need to Identify the Skills Gap

In a dynamic workplace where technology and tactics are ever evolving, it can be difficult to keep pace with the upskilling needs of your employees. One approach is to ask your employees what they want to learn and give them the liberty to enroll in training that suits their needs within a set budget. Another approach is to tell your employees what you need them to learn and make the arrangements for their training from the top down, which provides the appropriate coursework but can feel officious.


Solution: Complete a thorough needs analysis to determine who needs training and how the learned skills transfer to the job being done. SHRM recommends a four-step process:

  1. Identify the business need.
  2. Perform a gap analysis relying on focus groups, HR records, surveys, observation, and employee interviews.
  3. Assess the training options available based on your company’s priorities.
  4. Report recommendations for short- and long-term training plans.

Once you’ve pinpointed your organization’s needs, you can decide if managers will set and possibly even present the training programs or if employees will have the freedom to select their training courses based on the parameters established by the analysis.


Challenge: Your Previous Programs Lacked Context for the Job

There is no more certain route to a collective staff eye roll than dictating new training courses that have no relevance to the work your employees actually do every day. Employees look at this kind of generic training as a waste of time at best and disrespectful at worst.


Solution: Override employee resistance to training by marketing the program as you would any product or service you’re trying to promote.

  • Provide statistics on outcomes: For instance, project managers with PMP® certification make 25 percent more on average than noncertified PMs.
  • Provide career incentives: Put together a pregame PowerPoint about how upcoming training prepares participants for higher responsibilities and future promotions.


Challenge: You Have Unenthusiastic Staff Members

If your PowerPoint presentation elicits still more eye rolls, perhaps the long-term vision you have for your employees is too abstract. Or maybe the workday is so hectic that your staffers simply do not want to make the time for another task.


Solution: Gamify your training programs. There is no human being in any workplace anywhere who does not like to win. Here are some ways to get competitive juices flowing by handing out rewards:

  • Present digital or paper certificates or badges to those who complete training.
  • Recognize participants in team meetings, social media, company newsletters, etc.
  • Provide free lunch.
  • Allow for time off after completion of a program
  • Invite participants to share what they learn in a short presentation.

These easy solutions not only help engage individual employees, they also boost interest in the topic, build a culture of continuous learning in your workplace, and encourage trainees to pay better attention during training because they know they have to present relevant information at a team lunch-and-learn.


Challenge: Your Remote Employees Feel Disengaged

For all its perks, the work-from-home life can be very isolating and frequently boring. Add a lineup of dull, required upskilling modules and you could be facing a mass exodus from your Zoom training room.


Solution: Implement a social learning element to your training programs. Chat features and collaborative activities create a sense of connectedness that pays off for your company. LinkedIn Learning reported that workplace learners who use social features watch 30 times more training content than learners who do not.


Challenge: You’re Looking for a Goldilocks Program

In corporate training, one size does not always fit all. If your training is too basic or too generic, your employees check out and get nothing from it. Likewise, if it’s too complicated, they can’t keep up and get nothing from it. You want a program that’s just right, designed with relevant training materials and content for your company’s specific objectives.


Solution: Customize training for your organization’s needs. USF’s Corporate Training program, for example, delivers on-site or live online programs designed to train your employees at scale. Amazon, Citibank, and Bristol-Myers Squibb are just a few of the top companies that partner with USF to create tailored programs for their employees.


Challenge: Your Staff Is Pressed for Time

There is no question that scheduling is one of the biggest obstacles to continuous workplace learning.


Solution: On-demand or live-online training courses provide the flexibility busy working professionals need. With no commute or long trip to an off-site training facility, your employees do not need to make childcare arrangements or hotel reservations. They can set their email notification to “Out of Office” and get down to learning at their desk or in their living room.


Challenge: You Need to Measure the Success of Training

Even the most casual employee development program produces data. If you’re not using that data to determine the overall progress of your training, spot problem areas in your lessons and recognize employees’ efforts, you’re missing an opportunity. But you are also missing out on the metrics that help you evaluate your return on investment.


Solution: Monitor your training analytics. This can be as simple as measuring productivity before and after the program or quantifying positive customer feedback after training. Or you can evaluate your training using the Kirkpatrick Model:

  1. Reaction: How did participants respond to the training?
  2. Learning: What did participants learn?
  3. Behavior: Did trainees apply what they learned on the job?
  4. Results: Did training meet stakeholders’ expectations?


Challenge: You Have a Tight Budget

Let’s get real about what corporate training costs. On average, companies spent $1,111 per learner in 2020. Midsize companies spent about $580 per learner. If you have a tight budget, it can be hard to convince leadership to invest in employee training.


Solution: Make a presentation about the return on investment and watch the approvals for training roll in. Going cheap does not pay off:

  • Companies that invest $1,500 on training per employee can see an average of 24 percent more profit than companies investing less.
  • Employees who feel they cannot fulfill their career goals in the company are 12 times more likely to leave the company.
  • According to an IBM study, 84 percent of employees in top-performing organizations receive the training they need (versus 16 percent of employees in the worst-performing companies).

A male providing a training session to a room full of corporate employees.

USF Can Make Your Training Program a Success

Corporate Training and Professional Education at USF offers cost-effective, flexible, and market-relevant programs to meet your team’s development and career needs. As part of our commitment to improving corporate training for individuals and organizations, USF offers industry-recognized certification programs and standalone courses that can produce high-impact results in your workplace.


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