The Training Carrot

What do you think of when you hear the words employee rewards and perks? Financial incentives? Bonus schemes? Of course these play a role, but most forward looking companies now recognise that money alone is not enough to attract and to retain the best people.

So if money is not the answer, what are successful companies doing? They are now looking at providing something that benefits both the employee and the company: access to training courses and coaching sessions.

This is a significant change. Traditionally learning and development was seen as the responsibility of the HR department, with reward and recognition the responsibility of line management. Two things kept very separate.

Furthermore, training courses were provided not as a reward, but as a way to fix problems (more of a stick than a carrot!)

This outdated approach is no longer fit for purpose as the needs and motivations of the workforce have most definitely changed. Take the research undertaken by Bersin. This found that 87% of recognition programmes focus on tenure, yet the average tenure of workers aged 25 to 34 is just 3 years. This means they never see the results of their efforts rewarded!

There are also a number of other issues that make this outdated view of training separate from reward a ticking time-bomb. These include the need to maintain a workforce with relevant skills - the average shelf-life of skills in the future is likely to be just 5 years - and the fierce race for talent. On this latter point two factors are important:

1. Millennial workers, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, have a more flexible, arguably less traditionally ‘loyal’, approach to employment. Such workers see learning and development as a necessity.

2. Surveys show that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if their employer invested in their career.

All of these factors mean that the opportunity to learn and access training is now the most valuable reward you can offer your employees. Tying training to recognition and reward boosts engagement, productivity and loyalty, drives innovation within the business and prepares your people for the future.

So how can employers use training as a reward?

1. Give the reward of time
A lack of time was given by employees as the number one reason for not engaging in work place learning, according to a recent LinkedIn survey. If this is the case, then one way to reward employees is with the gift of time for training. Google’s 20% rule is an example of this already in action: people are given the space and time to invest in their own development outside of their job description.

2. Give them a training bonus
If an employee has done a great job, the simplest way to reward them is to offer a training bonus that they can spend on training courses that will help further their career. Our training passports can be used for this. The additional benefit to the employee is this is tax-free benefit.

Furthermore, by allowing the employee to select their own training it demonstrates that the company trusts them to make the right decision on how to further develop. This freedom to choose is particularly important to millennials.

3. Measure it
One fundamental factor in seeing training as a reward and recognition is the concept of measuring its impact. If things are measured, then they get done.

So set up a rewards system that monitors impact and progression that you can track over time. This will also demonstrate to your employees that you’re taking an active interest in their training and development.

These three simple actions will help you to build a ‘learning culture’, which is essential if you are to overcome the changes that will inevitably take place over coming years.

There is no better time than right now to invest in your people and improve your employee brand by showing that you understand the value of training as a benefit.