COVID-19 brought turmoil and upheaval to every business across every industry. Although some verticals have been hit more profoundly than others, there’s not a single company that’s been able to continue “business as normal” during 2020.
Even businesses that didn’t have to close their doors at some point during the pandemic have seen revenues fall, as consumers felt the need to cut their spending and business customers were forced to trim budgets.
Mass terminations, supply chain and distribution disruption, and uncertainty around access to working capital has left a great number of companies feeling insecure about their long-term future.
At this point, revamping your employee training programs is probably at the bottom of your list of priorities, but there are good reasons for pushing it further up the list. Employee training isn’t just for onboarding new hires; it can have a number of real and valuable effects on your business stability and help you to position yourself for improved growth as you enter 2021 and look ahead to recovery.
Close your skills gaps
COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation in a series of hasty changes that were vital for survival but left many businesses with serious skills gaps. 87% of executives reported skills gaps which could cost them their innovative edge, responsiveness to change, and capability to consolidate and expand digital adoption. Companies are only now discovering new roles that need to be filled and positions that need to be expanded. Additionally, pandemic-related layoffs may have created gaps even in core business competencies.
Employee training helps you map exactly which skills are missing, so you can plan your hiring more efficiently for long-term growth. The right training programs can also be used to upskill employees so they can fill roles where there’s a general dearth of talent, like data science.
Deliver a feeling of safety for employees
The pandemic has increased everyone’s awareness and concern about health and safety. Employees need to feel confident about returning to the office, and training programs are the best way to show that you take the issue seriously and care about their wellbeing. As well as reassuring them that it’s safe to come in to work, these programs increase employee motivation by making them feel valued.
Enterprises can and should use employee training to ensure that everybody is on the same page about anti-infection measures. Employees want to hear regular updates about sick leave policies, health protocols, and infections among their colleagues. These regular communications increase trust between employees and employers to raise employee engagement and productivity.
Boost your brand reputation
Ultimately, sales drive your business growth, and your brand reputation is crucial to your marketing and sales performance. Consumer-facing brands in particular need to pay attention to the way that they’re perceived by the wider public, but even B2B companies should be concerned about their reputation.
With customers feeling increasingly skeptical about whether or not they can trust brands, the way that brands treat their workers has become one of the main touchstones. Enterprises that run appealing employee training programs build a reputation as caring and trustworthy, and that perception spills over into consumer attitudes and helps bring in more sales.
Raise your customer experience
Customer experience is the driving factor for the majority of consumers, with 51% of Americans saying they’d walk away from a brand they love after just one or two negative experiences, and 57% agreeing that a good experience makes them more loyal.
Employee training is the best way to ensure that everyone in a customer-facing role knows your current policies, so they can resolve customer issues at the first touchpoint and is skilled in handling difficult customers and escalating situations.
Attract and keep the best talent
Some fields and roles are seeing massive competition for talent, so you need to make your company as attractive an employer as possible. The more appealing your business, the easier it will be to hire skilled applicants and build a strong workforce. Workplaces that offer opportunities for career growth are the most attractive choices, with 56% of jobseekers ranking this above compensation and 38% saying they wouldn’t even apply to a company with poor employee reviews.
Additionally, strong employee training helps you to retain your most experienced employees who may otherwise leave for competitors who offer new challenges and better professional development opportunities. 73% of workers say they’re a lot more likely to stay at employers who help them build their skills, and you can’t lightly replace someone who knows your business deeply with a new hire.
Close your security loopholes
Hackers have been quick to take advantage of the chaos of COVID-19, and data breaches and cyber-attacks are on the rise. Your employees are always the weakest link, and no tech solution in the world can make up for employees who use default passwords or forget to change access settings on shared documents.
The work-from-home situation doesn’t help, since many employees are using unsecured devices and networks and don’t have their normal security backup close at hand. One-fifth of companies have experienced a data breach due to remote work since the pandemic began, and 52% of executives say that their biggest security threat is their employees. Training programs are crucial to educate employees to recognize phishing attacks and follow security best practices, so your business isn’t thrown off its stride and doesn’t suffer reputational harm after a data breach.
Employee training is a key pillar for business strength
Companies of all sizes are striving to strengthen their business positioning so that they can take advantage of the eagerly awaited post-COVID-19 recovery. By helping you increase cybersecurity, improve customer experience and brand reputation, acquire and retain the best talent, and make employees feel safe at work, employee training programs can bolster your business stability and help you drive growth and revenue for the long term.