To keep your small business running smoothly and ensure its long-term success, strategic training and development activities are essential for your workforce At the staff level, your workers will have higher morale and attendance, collaborate more effectively and be better prepared with the skills and expertise to do their assigned tasks well. Your organization as a whole will be more competitive, better prepared to promote employees to managerial positions in the future and more likely to retain its high-performing workforce.

Strategic Training and Development Purpose

The purpose of strategic training is to prepare your managers and employees with the skills they need to complete their work tasks both efficiently and effectively and help them reach your company's main goals. This training usually first happens when an employee or manager begins to step into the role and often involves both job shadowing of experienced workers and course-related activities. Not only does a strategic training plan focus on improving the quality of work in the present, but it is developed to make your workforce more competitive in the long term.

Strategic development's purpose is to enhance those skills your employees and managers already possess. You might use developmental activities to assist employees who are underperforming in their work based on your findings from performance reviews, or you might use them to teach new skills that changes in the work environment now require. As with strategic training, a strategic development plan has a long-term outlook that will create a strong, prepared workforce who will assist with your company's long-term growth and success.

More Competitive Workforce

One of the main benefits of strategic training and development is that your company will have a more competitive workforce from the start. When your company is known for building employees' skills and offering them advancement opportunities, you'll find that you're able to attract employees who are better skilled, engaged and dedicated, suggests Big Think Edge. In the long run, this gives you workers who bring valuable skills and experience and who are more willing to work hard to meet your company's strategic goals.

Including developmental activities further improves your workforce's competitiveness as you provide the skills needed in a changing business landscape. Keeping your employees continually trained and developed will enable you to make better use of new technologies and work processes. For example, if your business has a warehouse, you may want to take advantage of technologies like robotics and automated sorting systems to lighten your staff's workload. Offering some training and preparation to your warehouse stuff will equip them to best reap the benefits of these systems.

Improved Company Performance

When your workforce understands their expectations and has been prepared to meet their work goals, you'll find your company performance overall improves in terms of efficiency, quality and effectiveness. Poorly trained employees can often make mistakes, take longer to complete tasks than well-trained workers and cost you more money in the long run. Not only can this slow down your production and workflow, but it can even harm your company's reputation when customers see a direct impact from the poor quality of products or services.

On the other hand, trained and developed employees can work more quickly, costing you less in wages and getting products and services to customers faster. At the same time, their work quality will improve so that customers are better served and have a better impression of your products and services. In the long-term, having high-performing employees puts you in a better place to expand your business and handle an increased workload than if your employees were struggling.

Better Workforce Collaboration

Another benefit of training and developing your workers is that they're better prepared to work together, which is especially crucial when your company relies on teams to complete projects. Poorly trained employees may have skill gaps that hinder them from keeping up with the team or following others' directions, leading to a lack of balance in employee performance, suggests Big Think Edge. Training your employees well improves collaboration so that each employee works effectively toward the company's goals rather than just on the goal of a specific person or group in the organization.

Higher Employee Morale

When your employees feel prepared to do their jobs, you'll find that they are more engaged in their work, feel more positively about the company, have better job satisfaction and are more likely to make your company succeed. For example, a salesperson who you've trained well in selling techniques is likely to feel more confident making sales calls and have more success working towards the sales goal you've set out. At the same time, when an employee is happy with the company, she may be more willing to work harder, collaborate with employees to complete work tasks and strive for your recognition for high performance.

Reduced Turnover and Absenteeism

Well-trained and developed employees help your company avoid both short-term and long-term problems with turnover and absenteeism. When employees do not feel your company prepares them for working effectively or doesn't offer developmental activities that prepare them for advancement, these employees may begin to look somewhere else for a more satisfying work environment. This can particularly hurt your company when you lose key employees who are difficult to replace and train and when the lost employees are particularly skilled and experienced. These former employees may also talk poorly about your company to others, making it harder to recruit quality workers.

At the same time, poor training and development impacts day-to-day operations as employees are more likely to miss work when they feel frustrated in their work, have low morale or find the working environment poor. In the short term, this puts a strain on other employees who have to pick up the slack from absent workers, and in the long term, high absenteeism hurts your company's bottom line, lowers workforce productivity and can harm both employee morale and the company's reputation.

Easier Succession Planning

Not only does strategic training and development help you keep your workers, but it can make it easier to plan for the future when it comes to choosing new leaders. Coupled with an effective performance review system that spots strengths and weaknesses of employees, ongoing training can be used to provide high-performing employees with skills that prepare them for promotion when the need arises. This saves your company time from having to look for leadership candidates from outside the company and avoids the costs of recruiting and hiring new leaders.

Making a Strategic Training Plan

To reap the benefits discussed, it's key to seek effective strategic training solutions. HR Daily Advisor suggests a four-step plan for training your employees. You'll start with taking a close look at the types of experience and skills your employees will need to make your business effective, and then you'll take a look at the skill gaps your workforce currently has. Once you have found these skill gaps, you'll prioritize them based on importance for your business's success and then seeking training methods that you'll deliver to your employees.

To offer strategic ongoing development, you'll again take a look at your business's goals both in the short and long term. Insperity suggests speaking directly to employees to learn more about what their plans are with the company and to identify which candidates are best suited for further training and promotion. You can then make plans to offer activities like special projects, mentoring and job shadowing to teach the new skills your workforce needs.