Human resource management (HRM) has five major functions that support the organization’s full life cycle of employment from recruitment of talented workers to retirement of long-term, tenured employees. The functions include recruitment and candidate selection; onboarding and orientation; employee relations and labor relations management; compensation and benefits; and training and development. Training and development programs, while sometimes last on the list of HR functions, can be the most important function of HRM.
Many HR managers and business owners and executives use the words training and development interchangeably, or as a combined function, but they’re very distinct HRM functions. Training, which typically is a short-term endeavor, focuses on discrete skill sets, such as learning software applications that assist employees in becoming more productive or efficient. Think Excel training classes or on-the-job, apprentice-like training where an employee learns how to do the actual job tasks.
Development, on the other hand, focuses on a longer-term solution to improving employee capabilities, such as leadership development programs or job coaching and mentoring. In a June 2017 blog post, the GameLearn team states, “If training focuses on a job position, development puts the emphasis on building a successful professional career.”
The training and development section within your human resources department can improve employee skill sets and assist both staff and leadership in achieving their professional development goals. Providing training and development opportunities is essentially saying to employees, “We are invested in your future,” and that means their future with your company or a future employer.
Investing in employees, regardless of whether they use what they learn in their current jobs with your company or somewhere else, bodes well for your organization. Employees who stay with the company will put to use those new skill sets – technical skills or soft skills, such as building interpersonal relationships and improving leadership capabilities – in ways that benefit your organization. And if they ultimately take what they’ve learned to another company, the experiences they had while working for you and their perception of your organization will enhance your reputation as a company that is committed to employee engagement and job satisfaction.
The need for training and development in modern business sectors cannot be understated. Training and development programs are vital for your organization to compete with other businesses, and importantly, to ensure your workers are doing their jobs in the most efficient and productive manner possible. Before embarking upon a training and development program, consider your employees’ needs in a three-pronged approach.
First, ask what type of training they want before creating a training program based on what you perceive are your employees’ needs. That’s one of the best ways to put your training dollars to good use. By asking end users (employees, and their supervisors and managers) what type of job training they believe would benefit them, you can almost guarantee that the training you offer will be useful.
Second, to the extent that's possible, engage participants in the design or development of your company’s training and development program. This can ensure that you are providing the type of training and development that meets the collective and individual needs of your employees. For example, consider forming an advisory committee that works closely with training and development experts in your HR department.
Third, determine how the training will be evaluated before it begins. Some organizations want to track data on the return on investment of training programs. In this case, you will need to identify pre-training and post-training metrics, such as performance appraisal ratings in the year before training and performance appraisal ratings after employees complete training.