Poll results 'sobering'
Are you wasting your staff training dollars?
Many businesses may not think so, but it appears their staff think otherwise.
A Colmar Brunton-David Forman Business Training Survey shows only 28 per cent of New Zealanders think the work training they receive is linked to their career development and goals, and only half think it helps them to be more effective in their current role.
David Forman managing director Olivia Blaylock says the results are concerning for a number of reasons, especially to think businesses are spending money in the wrong areas during difficult economic times.
Blaylock said training can often be, wrongly, a "tick the box" exercise.
"Businesses need to step back and ask what they are trying to achieve," she said.
It's crucial that training is tailored to employees' needs. This is more common at the top level of organisations, but lower down, where public programmes are more common, can be lacking.
"At the moment, it's obvious the training dollar could be spent better. If New Zealand Inc is to become more competitive internationally, we have to ensure our workers are trained to reach their full potential."
Blaylock said continuous learning and skill development is a priority, and the survey revealed a strong interest from employees in developing leadership, management and personal effectiveness skills.
"That is really encouraging and highlights an area businesses should focus investment in."
She described as "sobering" the finding that half of those surveyed felt their training wasn't going to help them do their job better.
International research has shown that training is retained much better by staff if they believe it relates to their career development, she said.
While about half of the people surveyed reported receiving technical skill development training in the previous year, only 17 per cent said they had received training related to customer service, and 12 per cent sales skills; when it came to what they want in the next year, less than 10 per cent of respondents were after more training in sales skills or customer service.
Blaylock said both of those statistics are worrying, because sales and customer skills are absolutely crucial aspects of business success, and an area where New Zealand lags behind many of its competitors.
However, she said sales skills aren't as valued as they should be. While attitudes to sales in New Zealand are improving, they are still a long way from where they need to be.
"It's a mindset that needs to change," she said.
"Whether they recognise it or not, everyone who works for a business is a salesperson, from the CEO to the warehouse operator, or the receptionist. New Zealand's mentality towards sales needs to change."
Blaylock said salespeople, because they are close to the customer, can help organisations see through issues, anticipate clients needs and spot opportunities to add value.
"Good salespeople are good listeners rather than good talkers," she said.
That's vital because, as business becomes more commoditised, competition intensifies and information about products and pricing becomes more accessible, organisations needed to be on their game.
Training investment is known as a key to ensuring staff remain loyal and committed, with a third of people surveyed wanting more training.
"That is a significant group. The survey has shown that the key is for organisations to get the balance of quality and quantity right, and spend their training dollar on the most effective training available."
The survey was carried out by Colmar Brunton online in May 2012.
The sample was representative of the New Zealand online population by age.
- © Fairfax NZ News