Corporate training plan: what it is for and why it is essential

One of the key aspects of a company's growth and development is training. It is a concept we have heard repeated for years now and about which there is no doubt: training, for a company is the real bridge to the future for the world of work. What is not often said is that "training," so, alone, is not enough. It is important for workers to know what is best to focus on and for what reason, toward what end; and it is therefore important for top management to be clear about its internal offerings. The solution for both ends of the interaction comes through the corporate training plan.

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Corporate training plan: what is it and what is its function

The corporate training plan is a project that identifies and plans training activities geared toward the company’s employees in order to improve or expand their knowledge and skills. It is a path designed over the long term that focuses on the personal growth of the individual as a vital element of the company system. It is constructed by taking into consideration a well-defined and limited number of years, along which it consciously articulates the company’s desired outcomes, both for its own people and for its own direct growth.

Going into detail, this design must consider (or, at least, it would be best to consider) a number of aspects that are fundamental to its success. Indeed, if content is the core of a professional development path, it is clear that neglecting even one of these aspects could automatically result in a problem.

It is necessary to consider the recipients of these training actions, drawing up a mapping to organize the content also based on an identification of the people to whom the course will be dedicated. This is because identifying the targets of the training plan will allow one to work to make it as balanced as possible, so that one does not have courses and objectives that are too general on the one hand, and not have ones that are too specific (and therefore, in some cases, not suitable for each user) on the other.

In addition, it is very useful to consider and put in place a system of verification and feedback collection, to understand how to improve content, structure, and experience.

Finally, it is good to evaluate the economic commitment expected for the whole operation.

What activities does it involve?

A corporate training plan can include activities that span all segments of corporate training, whether operational or not. It can cover functional activities for onboarding new resources, as well as advanced professional development courses; there will be no shortage of activities to enhance skills and broaden the skillset, combined with strategies to improve interpersonal skills, then moving up the organizational chart to include management-focused training packages.

The importance of the training plan in the company

To fully understand the importance of a corporate training plan, we need to take a step back and study the reasons for deciding to use it.

In the immediate, the purpose of a corporate training plan is to offer its workers the opportunity to acquire new skills and improve job performance in the position they are currently holding. But that’s not all: it can become a real ramp that allows workers to develop new skills and embark on a path of corporate growth, either as a function of a role of greater responsibility in the department they belong to or as a function of a different one in another department. This emphasizes individuals and enhances them, while at the same time empowering their work teams; an empowerment that-ultimately-reflects on the ‘whole company.

Planning a corporate training plan, then, is a bit like building a greenhouse, within which the skills, professionalism and even talent of each worker can be cultivated. While it is obvious that this opportunity for improvement and enrichment is a benefit to people, it is also true that it can be a benefit to the company itself.

Benefits and advantages of a corporate training plan

Setting up a corporate training plan is an operation that undoubtedly brings two categories of benefits to the company, which we might call direct benefits and indirect benefits.

"Indirect" benefits for employees

By “indirect” we mean the benefits that benefit the employees first and foremost, and which, as a result, end up benefiting the company itself.

These include aspects we have already discussed, such as improving individual skills, acquiring new knowledge, and expanding one’s skillset, either to extend the potential of one’s role or to move horizontally or vertically within the company.

Added to these is improved job performance in the position already held, an across-the-board benefit for the employee that is in fact a direct consequence of what has just been said.

In conclusion, it is also good to consider how the benefits of planned and structured continuing education contribute to the creation of a corporate culture of learning, which undeniably acts as a glue between employees and between employees and management.

The direct benefits to the company

This focus on employee training and growth makes the company more attractive to anyone looking for a job.

In addition to this, the presence of long-term educational planning increases the company retention rate; this means that employees may perceive the attention to their growth and training as care from the company toward them; as a result, they will be more likely to prefer a career within it instead of seeking their fortunes elsewhere.

Obviously, this worker retention is not a mathematical certainty, and it might come to be thought that the new skills provided by the company’s training plan might become bargaining chips to migrate to other companies, demanding more advantageous economic conditions. While the possibility of an employee deciding to change jobs is always a possibility, it should not be forgotten that implementing a long-term corporate training strategy will at least prevent relevant positions from remaining uncovered for too long, causing slowdowns (if not outright damage) to work processes: the more people grow within the company, the easier it will be to quickly replace employees who decide to leave.

Aiming for a corporate training plan makes the company more competitive in an ever-changing market by relying on perpetually up-to-date staff.

In addition, identifying business needs and positioning the goals the company sets for itself along a well-defined (albeit not narrow) range of years is a practice that helps achieve those same goals; this is also done through continuous monitoring of training, made possible by new technologies related to E-learning.

Choosing to have staff who are always up-to-date and trained in the latest news, innovations and procedures brings with it the possibility for a company to stay abreast of the times in terms of work and production processes, modernizing and innovating wherever possible.

Who drafts the corporate training plan?

Just having such a plan in place, all things considered, is already a step toward achieving the goals, but one should not think that making a training plan is something everyone can do.

The first possible scenario is one in which the corporate training plan is given to an in-house HR manager, or to someone within the company who looks after the training branch. It may seem the most obvious solution. The scope and ramifications of the training plan, however, require at the very least that the internal manager be able to draw on the knowledge of management and employees, whose feedback is critical to proper planning.

But is it as simple as it seems? Not always, which is why it is advisable to seek the advice of an experienced professional from outside the company. For an investment, this solution is often a guarantee of higher quality and care in both production, development and supervision. The degree of this intervention, of course, must be defined in the analysis phase, but generally the possibilities range from plan creation to complete plan management, complete with content production, live presence and consulting.

This second scenario, while ensuring high levels of quality and refinement, however, risks resulting in a corporate training plan that is too depersonalized with respect to corporate identity; there is then a third way, a hybrid scenario that (at varying percentages) involves external industry professionals and in-house personnel.

Corporate training: the stages

For a corporate training plan to be effective, remember, it is essential that it be designed specifically for the organization it is aimed at, thus reflecting the culture of its people and taking into account the values it conveys.

It is important to specify that when we talk about population, we are referring to all the professionals and roles involved in the training process.

To meet this need, it is incumbent that the design of each phase of the training plan takes these elements into account when defining the objectives, content, as well as the methodologies to be implemented.

Step 1: The needs analysis

In order to draw up a tailored training plan, it is important to assess the company’s starting situation through needs analysis.

In this first phase, initial information about the people involved is collected to decide on which area to intervene.

The goal is to measure the gap between the detected skill level and the skill level in line with business objectives.

The corporate training plan is built on the recorded gap.

Needs analysis is an extremely useful and effective tool because it allows a company’s investment in training to be optimized by identifying the resources to be involved and the skills to be implemented. Needs analysis activities can be carried out internally, by the HR manager or Training Manager, or they can be outsourced and contracted to a consulting firm.

The needs analysis examines several elements.

First, an observation of the business context so that the training plan truly represents a meeting point between the organization and the people involved.

Three dimensions come into play at this stage:

  • The processes and people involved: that is, who is to benefit from the training plan, why, and to what extent;
  • The methodologies to be used: which are the most effective depending on the role and learning objectives identified?
  • The content: what are the areas of expertise to be addressed and therefore what are the subject areas to be included in the training plan?

Another important consideration to make is related to organizational need. Depending on whether it is for onboarding, level advancement, or a new cultural fit for the organization, the needs analysis will be declined in response to the company’s expectations and ultimate goals.

How to carry out needs analysis

There are many methodologies to be used in conducting training needs analysis, and, of course, their application must be weighed on a case-by-case basis according to the contextual elements and training objectives.

In some cases, the method of direct observation within the relevant professional context is used to monitor the operational stages of the activities of those involved.

In other cases, the choice is made to collect data useful for drafting the training plan through surveys and questionnaires, either general or targeted for different segments of the company’s population.

Interviewing is also a widely used method and calls those directly involved to action to measure their perception of the actual state of skills. Can be individual or group, depending on roles or random selection

Not least, assessments, which include tests or simulations of real cases, can also be used with the aim of identifying training gaps and preparing skill development plans.

Step 2: The design of the corporate training plan

The central activity of this phase is goal setting, from which the corporate training plan can be designed.

Recall that in order for goals to be goals and not mere desiderata, it is essential that they be measurable in terms of results and in line with identified Key Performance Indicators(KPIs).

The design of the training plan starts with a reworking of the elements derived from the needs analysis, from which targets and content are defined.

Having identified the targets and objectives, you can start working on content and methodologies.

Depending on the size of the project, the training plan can be one size fits all or differentiated according to roles.

Content can be delivered in the classroom or designed to be enjoyed in the form of E-learning courses; or, again, it is possible to take advantage of the blended mode, an integration of in-person training with digital distance learning, synchronous or asynchronous.

Step 3: The delivery of the training plan

The corporate training plan can be divided into learning modules structured according to the defined methodology.

Then, according to the scheduling, the resources involved can carry out the learning experience in one of the modes of use just mentioned (classroom, E-learning or blended mode).

The timing of delivery is defined in the design phase, as are the monitoring activities. At this stage, workers-in-training will already be able to contribute by providing feedback on the methodological solutions undertaken, as well as initial feedback on the experience sustained against the expected results. In fact, this phase usually concludes with a learning questionnaire, which reflects the level of knowledge of each worker relative to the content covered, and a satisfaction questionnaire, which instead serves to evaluate the teacher and the learning experience in general.

Step 4: The evaluation of the training plan

As anticipated, this stage, is devoted to evaluating the impact of the training plan on the people involved.

KPIs are measured over the short, medium, and long term.

Of course, the monitoring of the learning experience varies depending on the methodology: classroom or E-learning.

Impact evaluation is a key process because it allows us to determine whether the skills gap between the initial situation and post-training has been closed. In essence, it allows us to understand whether the applied training plan worked, generating the expected effect.

How to make a corporate training plan

The steps detailed so far serve to prepare the ground for the implementation of the corporate training plan, that is, its drafting.

In fact, once the target audience, content macroareas and objectives have been identified, we move on to the procedural phase.

First, it is essential that the macro-themes of the content be articulated in detail, that is, go through a macro-design phase, which is useful to define in detail the most suitable way to organize and present the content.

Another key element concerns defining the time frame of training intervention: how long will employees be involved in the learning journey? How often will controls be carried out by measuring KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?

One aspect that cannot be underestimated at all when drafting a corporate training plan is the need for all its elements to be clearly and unambiguously stated, therefore:

  • Who are the people involved, at what stages, and for how long;
  • Which methodologies to adopt absolutely or according to the content or stage of the training course;
  • What are the objectives, i.e., the results expected by the company;
  • What resources can be used in terms of skills and tools.

A key tool at this stage is feedback, to be applied at the end of each module, or at defined time intervals. It is useful to take into account both the obtained reactions of the resources involved and those arising from the business division that approved the plan.

Corporate training plan: example

We have seen how each individual phase of the training plan is necessary to ensure its effectiveness, and how training plans can vary depending on the starting conditions, such as: sector, target audience, roles involved, differentiation of levels, and, of course, relationship between the objectives and the identified competencies.

Let us now review two of our corporate training project experiences to use as explanatory examples

Academy Responsible Sellers

This first example sees Frog Learning at work in the Fashion industry. Let’s see the process in detail!

The first step consists of a series of assessment activities, focus groups and operational team coaching.

The data that emerged enshrines the need for action on skills enhancement for salespeople and store managers.

The target audience identified shows differentiation in terms of background and corporate seniority.

After identifying best practices and development goals, the methodology is defined: a blended formula articulated in 3 hours of E-learning (usable from mobile and tablet in microlearning pills), to which an in-store active learning activity has been integrated.

The corporate training plan, therefore, in compliance with the requirements outlined above, should aim at the following objectives:

  • Structuring sales process of a commodity category;
  • Improving the consumer experience in store and digital;
  • Improve sales performance of the team;
  • Develop skills on storytelling/storyselling, objection handling, communication.

This was followed by the drafting of a toolkit for monitoring the training experience-a logbook or weekly checklist, for example-and then to the stage of designing the training plan and releasing the micro-learning pills.

The last step was the actual development of E-learning courses into interactive blocks and videos with a specific focus on situational training and behavioral dynamics.

Finally, after implementing the activities under the project, the communication campaign aimed at providing details of the training project through the internal communication App, through videos, emails and posts on social channels took place.

Academy salespeople and consultants

For the second example involving us at Frog Learning in the drafting of a corporate training plan, we move to the context of a multinational B2B wholesale company.

The target audience identified includes salespeople and consultants and is very heterogeneous in terms of: age, background, tools used.

The needs analysis showed that the focus was on the following objectives:

  • Strengthening employees’ skills to achieve business goals;
  • Increasing the value of human capital;
  • Retraining, upskilling and reskilling of the resources involved.

Again, the chosen methodology involves a blended solution, with 4 hours of E-learning courses (organized following a microlearning module structure), supplemented with in-person assessment and engagement activities.

Let’s turn to the training plan activities specifically.

It started with the launch of the company’s internal training project by serving as a teaser video and an organized campaign on e-mail and social channels.

This was followed by the macro-design of the training course, which then led to the design of the phased release, in this case over 6 months, of the microlearning content. The next phase involves storyboarding activities and developing the training pills into interactive blocks and videos.

Finally, downloadable handbook material has been created for all users.

Learning advisory Frog Learning

Frog Learning has designed a service for companies to optimize the learning and development process of the corporate population: the Learning Advisory.

The goal of the Learning Advisory is to design learning initiatives in order to develop valuable learning experiences for the company and the people involved.

Let’s see specifically what this is all about.

The Learning Advisory:

  • It declines learning in the operational and daily phases of the business;
  • Aims to design customized training plans through a thorough needs analysis;
  • It enables the company to grow sustainably, increasing productivity, efficiency and resource welfare.

So what are the key points of the service?

  • Learning experience design: define and design the E-learning strategy within the learning ecosystem consistent with business goals and values.
  • Corporate Academy Design: strategic consulting in the design and development of learning pathways (both digital and blended) to address the need for upskilling and reskilling;
  • Train the Trainer: deliver training and support to corporate referrers using digital learning solutions to make them autonomous in the in-house production of E-learning courses.

Therefore, all that remains is to consider the advantages!

First is the increase in productivity: more skills, in fact, improve the performance and motivation level of workers, an aspect that totally benefits business goals.

The possibility of cost reduction should also not be underestimated: if the training proves effective, it can be reused, with appropriate adaptation, allowing for a downsizing of company resources and investment time;

Its last, but certainly not least, benefit is the way in which continuous learning in the company improves workers’ perceptions of themselves and their work, fostering their involvement, their trust in the organization as well as their sense of belonging.

What to do now? All that remains is to contact us to learn more!

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