WMA Headlines July/August 2020

July 22nd, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Strategic Investments: Cutting Employee Development Could be a Mistake Amid a Pandemic

By Jessica Ferris

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, businesses have scrambled to make necessary changes within the workplace to safely stay afloat. Employees who can have been working from home; others have been either laid off or furloughed. Some manufacturing plants have switched to producing urgently-needed healthcare equipment. Businesses have implemented protocols under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance for keeping workers safe from the virus.

Weighing Cuts

Unfortunately for many businesses, scaling back operations was a top priority. At the same time, employee training and development often are the first to get cut. But some experts suggest that this is a mistake. As the pandemic plays out, employers should consider training and development an investment rather than a line-item expense to be cut from the budget. Businesses that make “a strategic investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees,” suggests Vibhas Ratanjee in a Gallup article.

According to the 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development, first published over 30 years ago, people learn effectively by the following breakdown: 70% comes from actual on-the-job experience; 20% from coaching and mentoring; and 10% from classroom/online learning. When you break this model down, in terms of how it relates to the current pandemic crisis, consider the following:

The first and most significant part of this triad is experiential learning. There are opportunities now for on-the-job training and optimizing productivity, especially in terms of ensuring everyone is on board with new ways of getting the job done. The work environment has changed for all companies in all industries—be it having to work from home or coming back into the workplace with new safety and social distancing protocols in place.

Make Assurances

Learning from others is another valuable resource for development, whether it’s from colleagues, managers or more formalized mentoring/coaching programs. During these uncertain times, employees are experiencing a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about their futures and want to know what they can do to improve and contribute. This is a crucial time to check in with them to provide encouragement and reassurance, while offering opportunities for job development for when things get back up to speed.

Though classroom learning is non-existent right now, e-learning has expanded for quite some time and now more than ever. Investing in online learning just makes good sense, as employees have extra time to spend on education.

Something else to consider includes the fact that technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning are evolving at a rapid pace—so rapidly, in fact, that Gallup projects 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

Associations can play a key role in learning and development. World Millwork Alliance (WMA), for example, offers a variety of online courses to members from entry-level principles and practices in millwork to workplace safety. In addition, WMA is a sponsor of the University of Innovative Distribution, a concentrated educational program focused on the wholesale distribution industry.

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