Dialogue is a safe way of handling issues through discussion or other forms of communication. At the workplace, a dialogue is important in resolving many issues that arise due to the day to day operations of organizations. Over the years, there are many cases recorded about how the profitability index of organizations shot up because of engaging in productive workplace dialogue. The world today has grown more dynamic than in past times and thus, constant training is required to keep the skills of the workforce up to date. This study will focus on the benefits of encouraging workplace dialogue over training and skills and the structures that organizations have put in place to develop strategies for workplace engagement over skills and training with a particular focus on Ogilvy Group.
To begin with, the benefits that accrue to having dialogue in the workplace over the skills and training of employees are many. To begin with, there are those benefits that come to the organization itself while others benefit the employees. Benefits that accrue to your organization include the fact that the organization picks the particular new skills that it wants its employees to acquire. This selection is targeted at choosing skills that meet the individual needs of the operations of the organization in both the current times and in the future. This, in turn, gives the organization a competitive edge in the market. In the long run, the organization can keep floating in the market while other companies go on crisis. Training employees makes their collaboration with others more effective. This is achieved through training employees to be intelligent listeners who not only listen to respond but, rather, seek to understand what their fellow workers are saying. With such skills, there is a dramatic improvement in the ability of workers to collaborate more productively.
Thirdly, training employees results in improved customer service, improved safety practices at the workplace and general improvements in productivity. This improvement in customer service leads to higher levels of customer retention that ensure that the organization gets repeat sales of their products. Safety practices in the workplace increase the peace of mind of employees and this leads to higher productivity and better quality of work. For example, in our case study of Ogilvy Group, one manager noted with excitement that he had seen overnight changes in the attitude and abilities of members of his team who had attended training courses. Lastly, training your workforce demonstrates that you value them greatly and this makes the employees loyal to the organization. This, in turn, improves the rate of staff retention which is a benefit to the processes and costs incurred by the human resource department.
Individual employees acquire new skills which in turn increases their contribution towards the business. This, in turn, improves their self-esteem since they have visible positive contribution to their departments. Employees with updated skills can compete with others from all over the globe since their skills match the changing trends in the market. For most employees, the training they receive lifts them to higher positions within the company. For example, a team leader in a department can be promoted to a departmental manager after relevant training. Such promotions usually come with improved prospects and better pay. This is a key motivating factor amongst employees who receive such honor.
Trained employees are upskilled to do different tasks that are more challenging. This keeps them feeling motivated, and it gives them a feeling of freshness. Such employees feel treasured by the organization and this, in turn, makes them loyal to the organization. The long-term productivity of these employees is improved greatly. A study by Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC), on how training benefits employee health and performance, shows that performance and health of workers improves from training. The study found that a reduction in stress levels of employees reflected in the overall productivity, increased revenue, less absenteeism and lower cost on workers. These results, together with an analysis of performance on the job, present a picture that depicts positive links between the physical and mental health of workers, the success they have in tasks related to their jobs and key outcomes in business. This study proves that interventions at the workplace that improve the self-confidence and skills of workers benefit both the business and the workforce by minimizing work stress and increasing performance.
There are many structures that have been put in place to develop strategies for workplace engagement over skills and training. Ogilvy Group employs a number of such strategies in a way that is beneficial to both the organization and its workforce. The company uses both the top-down and the bottom-up approach to dialogue with employees over training and skills. They have a department called the Learning and Development Department (L&D) which plays a key role and it is integrated into the structures of communication and consultation at all levels. This works to ensure that relevant training is made available to meet the strategic objectives which were set by the chairman of the company. He believes that training should be operationalized consistently throughout the subsidiaries of the company, individual departments and ultimately, through their line managers. It is clear that L&D is a key contributor to the strategic goals of the company, and it complements and supports the company’s overall objectives.
Sharing of the best practices and ideas between teams is another strategy for engaging workplace dialogue over skills and training. When employees see that their ideas and best practices are receiving praise, they get prompted to display and share their very best work. Learning between peers through meetings or a platform of talent development is considered a good way of fostering engagements and creating or strengthening links between employees. Another strategy that an organization can employ is understanding the learning styles and preferences of individual employees. When you understand how employees learn, whether they prefer to work independently or in teams, you will end up finding better ways of engaging them in more productive projects. Another consideration that should be factored is when and for how long an individual can learn. This consideration is important especially if the training is done online. Some employees are happy getting individual training while other prefer synchronous and collaborative training. It is important that the talent development platform offers varied ways of user engagement with courses.
Another approach used by Ogilvy Group is that of appraisal. Appraisees nominate both junior and senior colleagues from different departments whom they have worked with before to give feedback regarding their performance with a bias to production, strategy, and creativity. Results are discussed with line managers after which training needs are identified and quarter annual, semiannual and annual objectives of development are set. This information is given to the L&D department which organizes for either internal or external training based on common needs. Other more informal methods of dialogue about training and skills are used in this company. For example, a culture of making learning to be a continuous and daily exercise for everyone and more especially the line managers is embraced. An open-door policy of training and training needs that makes every effort approachable is seen as a form of informal training. Constant communication remains a key factor in all departments and all the discussions on good practices are fed to the human resource meetings to ensure that learning and development remains a key priority.
In conclusion, the International Labor Organization (ILO 2008) made it an objective that skill policies of organizations need to develop relevant skills, enhance perpetual learning, and achieve high levels of competitiveness. It emphasizes that there should be a sufficient number of skilled workers who match skills with the demand for their supply. This will in turn contribute to increased employability, productivity and more decent work. However, for most organizations like Ogilvy Group, the major challenge they meet is in quantifying the returns from the training investments. Generally, most organizations agree that workplace dialogue over skills and training is important and it enables them to ensure that their employees remain updated in skills and general knowledge on current trends in the market.
Herman Aguinis and Kurt Kraiger, 2009. Benefits of Training and Development for Individuals and Teams, Organizations and Society.
Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC), 2016. How Workplace Training Benefits Employees’ Health and Job Performance.
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