Getting Your Organization Ready for Employee Training and Development

In this Section:

HR Management Standard 5.2 
During the development of the annual budget consideration is given to including appropriate resources to fund employee training and development.

The need for training and development

Employee training and development are part of good management practices and good risk management strategies.

The following issues and changes in an organization may indicate the need for employee training and development:
  • Employee’s request
  • Employee survey results
  • Evaluation deficiencies
  • Individual development plan
  • Law and regulation changes
  • Need to develop new leaders
  • New employee
  • New equipment
  • New manager
  • New program
  • New technology
  • Reassignment
  • Safety issues

At the same time as the need for employee training and development is increasing, it can be argued that the available time and money for traditional forms of learning, such as formal training courses, has decreased. To meet this gap between the need for training and its accessibility, we’ve identified a variety of inexpensive methods for employee development that can offer longer leaves than the law requires. Or, your policy (or collective agreement, if applicable) can stipulate that employees will be paid while they are on leave for training and development. By using these methods in a deliberate and thoughtful way, performance of your employees and your organization can be improved.

Benefits of employee training and development

In CCHRSC’s Labour Market Update Study research confirms that the quality of children’s early environments influences learning, behaviour and health throughout life. Child care staff and caregivers’ daily interactions shape the quality of children’s experiences. Those in the workforce with post-secondary education, particularly if it is related to ECE, are more likely to provide high quality child care.

Training and development programs have a positive impact on performance:  CPRN’s  report on Job Quality in Non-profit Organizations indicates that “Job quality affects worker morale, job satisfaction, and the scope workers have to apply their skills and abilities to the job – all key contributors to productivity performance.”

Employee training and development programs also help with employee retention. In the book Employee Training and Development (see Links and Resources below), Note states that:

“Studies of what factors influence employee retention suggest that working with good colleagues, challenging job assignments and opportunities for career growth and development are among the top reasons for staying with a company.”

Employee training and development programs prepare staff to successfully carry out the mission of the organization.

 Benefits of employee training and development include:
  • Employees are better prepared to help the organization achieve its goals.
  • Staff are more productive.
  • Employees are more motivated.
  • Well-trained staff require less supervision.
  • A pool of employees are ready to replace others who leave.
  • Staff that engage in continuous learning are better able to meet the challenges of changes in the organization.
  • Staff are able to manage/work on new programs.
  • Your organization will be more successful at attracting and retaining employees.

Creating a learning environment in your organization

A positive environment for learning is always critical for success, whether it is the environment of a classroom or the environment of your organization. The learning environment provided by an organization is a function of the organizational culture. Organizational culture means the values, attitudes and beliefs reflected in the mission, goals, and practices of the organization.

The board of directors and senior staff of your organization set the tone for the organization's culture. Do their decisions and actions view learning as a positive way to improve individual performance and the performance of the organization? Are these positive outlooks reflected in the value statements, policies and structures that guide the operation of the organization?

A model for professional development and encouraging innovation in child care programs is establishing in-house mentoring or coaching. Using the services of an external program consultant (or building capacity in a staff member to play this role) allows for professional development experiences to be targeted and relevant to the organization’s needs.  Many workshops and conferences deliver standard topics that may not apply across the staff of an organization, or they may be too basic or too advanced. We also know that a two-hour workshop does not effect lasting change. Embedded coach/mentor positions offer support based on individual needs, immediate feedback, are based on a trusting, respectful relationship, and provide opportunities for supported risk-taking and innovation.

Margie Carter, a founder of Harvest Resources Associates – an organization specializing in early childhood education training – speaks to developing communities of practice. This is another way of bringing like-minded individuals together to discuss/share their insights.  This model works well when there is specificity to the discussion, for instance, all toddler teachers or all teachers interested in developing learning stories.

Here are some other ways organizations that value learning provide a supportive learning environment:

Recognize that learning is part of everything the organization does

Opportunities to learn happen all the time. Organizational cultures that support learning recognize learning as an ongoing process, not an event. A new piece of legislation may be used as a learning tool for all staff. A proposed special event may become a learning opportunity for an employee who has expressed an interest in event management.

Support the expectation of learning with resources for learning

An organization shows that it values learning by including employee training and development in the annual budgeting process. Items included in the annual budget reflect the priorities of the organization.

Encourage learning at all levels

Opportunities to learn are made available for everyone in the organization, from the board of directors to the most junior staff.

Embrace learning opportunities

One way an organization shows that it values learning is in its approach to mistakes.

“Failure is critical to the learning process and must be considered in the context of the individual’s role, potential, and future success. When we fail, we might react in one of three ways: learn from the mistake, continue to fail, become reluctant to try again. In today’s workplace environment, leaders must develop a culture that removes the punishing effects of failure to help people to take risks, be creative, and to grow.”

                      – Laurie Hillis (See Links and Resources below.)

It is important to encourage people to learn from mistakes rather than being afraid to admit their mistakes for fear of disciplinary action.

Have a policy on employee training and development

A policy on employee training and development (or, where applicable, a negotiated clause in the collective agreement on training) shows that the organization values learning.

Professional development policies usually include guidance on:
  • How often employees are expected to take formal training – for example, once a year, once every two years.
  • The types of development programs that are acceptable
  • When and how employees will be reimbursed for off-the-job programs
Provide time for learning

Time for learning in the workplace is important for the success of an employee development program. This means giving employees time to learn without the interruptions of every day activity.

Allow for practice of new skills on-the-job

Learning does not end when the learning activity is over. Opportunities to use the knowledge and skills employees have learned on-the-job will ensure that they retain what they have learned.