Unlocking potential

Published June 10, 2024
The writer is an author, teacher trainer and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect those of her employer.
The writer is an author, teacher trainer and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect those of her employer.

NOT even 10 per cent of the 531 companies listed on the PSX offer formal training to their employees. These companies have a collective annual turnover of over Rs8 trillion. It wouldn’t take much to calculate the impact on productivity if they were to invest in their employees’ learning and development opportunities. Learning and development (L&D) helps employees identify their strengths, unlocks thinking potential, and opens lines of communication.

Employees can hugely benefit from simply being heard as they sit for conversations with a workplace coach or mentor.

Typical questions that a workplace coach may ask are: what skills can help you do your job better? How can you develop these skills, and what are your priorities for career growth? Ongoing reflection with a mentor or coach not only motivates but can also help align the employee with the company’s goals and strategy, as well as drive individual career growth.

Most employees strive for significance — to be seen and valued for their work. An employer’s motivation to value employees comes from what they can bring to the table in terms of teamwork, capability, efficiency and productivity. Often, employees complain about churning the same wheel, but lots can change if they take action to drive innovation within their teams.

Employees can benefit from simply being heard.

A McKinsey report on successful L&D strategy by Nick van Dam points out key elements of employee development that are beneficial to companies. Besides building individual capabilities and retaining talent, companies create their own ‘brand ambassadors’. This results in a value-based culture where employees embody the company’s reputation and competitive advantage. Brand ambassadors are not just driven by data analytics on productivity, but also the perceived significance of their work, loyalty to the company and ownership of their role.

To be successful, L&D opportunities need to incorporate programmes that are sustainable. From in-person, on the job training and collaboration with colleagues to coaching and mentoring, these programmes can be delivered online. Online training is often viewed with suspicion, as it has been historically considered inferior to in-person interaction. However, studies have shown that online training is a ‘safer’ place giving opportunities for self-expression and individual work to employees who may not be comfortable speaking in public or in a face-to-face set-up.

Those with full schedules during the day are more receptive to online sessions that they can attend sitting at their desk or at home, rather than clearing their calendar for a physical meet-up. Online learning is often also easier to monitor if followed by assessments that gauge learning impact and key takeaways. In fact, online training programmes are all the more necessary in Pakistan to empower professionals to use technology and digital tools with greater ease in this fast-evolving era of learning management systems.

Ninety-one per cent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring and coaching programmes. This correlation between investment in employee development and the companies’ success is not coincidental. An increasing number of global companies are looking towards investment in professional development, particularly reskilling and coaching as a way of increasing produc-tivity. Not only does L&D target goals, it also ensures a continuous learning culture so that employees are able to respond to the fast-changing work and external environment.

Development opportunities have come to be recognised as a deciding factor for the ‘employer of choice’. The ‘millenials’ are increasingly choosing companies that can commit to their gro­wth. Most employees choose to stick with a company that caters to their well-being, keeping them enga­g­­ed in the company’s values, goals and te­­amwork as opposed to reporting on day-to-day tasks.

Investing in emplo­yees not just saves the company the costs associated with a high turnover, it also ensures that skills are not misdirected, with employees stuck in roles not suited to their ability. It helps employers make conscious decisions for placement, promotion and professional development. It also ensures that employees stay motivated, learn how to manage themselves and rise up to challenges as a team. The employee engagement that results from these efforts helps safeguard and promote the company’s reputation with its customers.

Understandably, many companies avoid the costs of training employees for fear of losing them to competitors, but the price of avoiding training will always be higher. As Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

The writer is an author, teacher trainer and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect those of her employer.

neda.mulji@gmail.com

X: @nedamulji

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2024

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