‘We don’t have the time’. ‘We don’t have the budget’.

There will always be a reason (or excuse) for staff training and professional development activities to be pushed to the bottom of a company’s priority list.

But they should actually be considered essential ongoing initiatives because they don’t just keep your employees’ skills current – they also boost productivity and job satisfaction.

Employees who feel their company is invested in their careers are likely to stay longer and work harder. Plus, providing targeted workplace training enables your staff to become more versatile and increase their contributions to the firm— a benefit for everyone. Staff training may cost your business financially, but the benefits will be well worth the outlay.

Depending on how you organise the training, the return on investment can vary dramatically. Here are 5 tips on how you can make the most effective staff training worth the investment.

1. Make staff training a regular affair

Companies need to identify knowledge gaps and address them with training programs that are targeted and tailor-made to an employee’s schedule and work activity. Aim to have training sessions on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, as opposed to having just a single 5 hour session.

Consistency improves knowledge retention in the long run and keeping it regular also promotes a pro-learning corporate culture.

Based on these regular sessions, trainers can review and give feedback based on real work performance to keep the programme as relevant as possible. This also allows you to properly track the efficacy of your staff training programmes.

2. Cross-train your staff

Cross-training empowers staff with new skills and opens up mobility within the company which improves employee retention numbers. Cross-training is also an opportune time to invite staff to become trainers for mentoring opportunities.

After all, only they would know the requirements and demands of their roles and be able to accurately convey that to colleagues.

3. Treat your silvers like gold

Cutting the focus on training for older staff can actually be an astute investment. An employee at 50 has clocked in more than two decades of work experience and skills ahead of a new graduate. But that’s not the end of it.

With average retirement ages increasing, the 50 year old employee would probably be looking at another decade or more in the workforce. Investing in training acknowledges and affirms their value to the company, renews motivation and increases relevance.

You can also leverage on their years in the workforce and have them mentor younger staff. The knowledge they can impart is far beyond what any corporate trainer can.

4. Learn from mistakes

Use the shortcomings from competitor companies as case studies during training. The costly mis-steps of another brand can help your teams be more aware of pitfalls and avoid them in the future.

Don’t just limit the learning to a specific failed product or campaign, use the issue as a springboard for dialogues on crisis management and other relevant issues across various teams or departments. Better yet, use this as an opportunity to help different departments get better acquainted with each other’s work functions or to cross-pollinate ideas.

5. Upgrade your managers

Managerial staff training can take a two-prong approach – technical training and soft-skills training. Managerial staff might not be as technically skilled as their teams, but they must at least have a basic knowledge of the technical know-how to be able to lead more effectively.

Managers are the most direct leaders’ staff face on a daily basis and it takes an excellent manager to inspire high productivity yet keep staff happy and motivated. With soft-skills training, such as those that encompass communication, coaching, conflict management, it’s possible to upgrade an average manager into a great one.

Staff training is worth the investment

Continual training, education, and coaching for employees is necessary for companies to maintain progression.

It’s also a great time for all levels across the company to reboot existing skills or create new ones.

Re-evaluate your staff training programs now, and reap the benefits for a long time to come.