How Employee Training Influences and Supports the Continuity of Growing Enterprises
The emerging trends in the new normal are encouraging enterprises to adopt new paradigms in managing talent and human resources. For one, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its opinions on what constitutes compensable employee training time. Businesses are focusing on remote working arrangements, which will be the norm even as countries resolve the effects of the pandemic.
In its FLSA 2020-15 opinion letter, the Department provided opinions on different training scenarios. These do not serve as the official guideline for all startups as they only apply to the employer that made the request for the opinion. However, these opinions offer some guidance on how companies should deal with employee training.
The DOL opinions
Here are the salient points of the Department of Labor opinions:
- Pursuing credentials for a licensing requirement through on-demand webinars related to an employee’s job is to be treated as unpaid time.
- Taking a webinar that is directly related to an employee’s job during work hours but has no continuing education requirement is to be treated as work time.
- Taking a webinar that is NOT directly related to an employee’s job during work hours and has no continuing education requirement is considered compensable because it was taken during work hours.
The way employees use their time at work affects their efficiency and productivity, which in turn impact the growth and continuity of a business using employee training programs. The DOL opinions above can serve as a good starting point for companies to consider reevaluating their employee training policies.
Tweaks or a major overhaul may be needed as existing policies may be prone to lawsuits or labor law entanglements. Conversely, companies may find opportunities to reduce operating costs or boost efficiency when it comes to worker training and development.
Examining employee training policies offers a fresh perspective into planning or strategizing in the context of business continuity. Growing enterprises that are reeling from the effects of the pandemic, in particular, can use employee training as a way to fix inefficiencies and bolster continuity.
The business performance impact of employee training
Training indubitably affects employee performance and productivity. Workers who are aware of their specific roles in an organization perform better and deliver on what is expected from them. Learning and skills development opportunities, additionally, allow employees to do their jobs at their optimum capacity.
In contrast, those who are left to figure out things on their own tend to drag down overall organizational performance. The scarcity of training makes employees prone to committing mistakes or too reliant on other employees, thus encumbering others and dragging productivity down.
Adopting a Laissez-Faire approach to worker training may occasionally produce exemplary employees who demonstrate outstanding initiative and ingenuity. However, such cases are a rarity. It is rather inexpedient to rely on unlikely outcomes in trying to bring out untapped or hidden leadership skills and initiatives among employees.`
On the other hand, having a proactive employee training policy is a boon to the responsiveness of an organization.
As the pandemic accelerated digital transformation and forced the adoption of atypical work arrangements, employee training became more important than ever. Digital upskilling, for one, introduced new challenges, whose solutions draw significant inputs from mindful employee training.
Employee training and business continuity
Employee training’s influence on and contribution to business continuity during the pandemic are anchored on the changes brought about by COVID-19. Specifically, the need to shift to remote work and e-commerce makes it necessary for businesses to revise their plans. Otherwise, they would not survive and fail to take advantage of limited opportunities.
Nick Routley, Creative Director and Writer for Visual Capitalist, recently wrote a concisely incisive piece on the World Economic Forum site presenting the major trends accelerated by the pandemic. Chief among these is the flexibility of workplaces, the inevitability of e-commerce, and greater use of digital technology. All of these trends are directly related to employee training.
The shift to teleworking entails dramatic changes in the way employees are trained and managed. It may also require significant modifications in worker onboarding. Similarly, employees need to undergo training to adapt to the new functions and dynamics of using more technologies in the workplace and in doing business online.
What makes the pandemic trends described by Routley different from other business trends is the fact that they are induced by pressing needs. They did not emerge in response to changing customer preferences or the introduction of new products by competitors. They compel businesses to adjust to avoid completely shutting down.
Brick and mortar stores, for example, needed to transition into e-commerce establishments to avoid a total cessation of operations and loss of revenues during the community quarantines and lockdowns. As a Chase Ink survey found, 35 percent of businesses said that they would have closed without e-commerce. Meanwhile, 44 percent of the survey’s respondents reported increases in their e-commerce sales at an average of 37 percent compared to the 2019 levels.
Emphasizing the importance of human resources
Again, the shift towards e-commerce, remote work, the use of more digital technologies, and other related trends would not be possible without employee training. It plays a vital role in enabling the transition into new systems and platforms. This reality highlights how people are essential in businesses.
Employee training and development is regarded as an effective retention strategy, as a recent HR News post writes. The last thing businesses want, especially growing enterprises, is to lose employees or see their productivity drop in the course of transitioning into a new platform.
As such, it makes complete sense to plan business continuity in line with employee training or onboarding. Ultimately, companies need to acknowledge that employees are their most valuable assets. If they want to remain a going concern, they need to optimize employee training not only based on what the business needs but also in accordance with what works for employees.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for employee training, in the same way, there are no universal and foolproof strategies for ensuring business continuity.