Training your employees in new skillsets and new technologies is an excellent investment. But the benefits of team training, where you teach a working group together, extend even further for your business. As noted by Peter Senge of the MIT Sloan School of Management, who authored The Fifth Discipline, “Team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations.”
This quote from Senge, an influential systems scientist, underlines the importance of team training. While any workplace education can build motivation, improve employee retention, allow you to keep current with technological capabilities, and increase productivity and profitability, team structures offer unique opportunities for employees. Team training provides all the advantages of upskilling individual employees but synergizes them with team dynamics to multiply the positive effects.
With talent shortages making it more challenging to hire new workers, upskilling your in-house teams simply makes sense. More than half (53%) of executives rank building skills within their existing workforce as the number one way to close skills gaps in their organizations, according to a recent survey by McKinsey & Company.
The Benefits of Team Training
To supercharge the benefits of upskilling your workforce, train your employees in teams where they can collaborate in a learning environment. Here are five benefits of team training for your workforce.
1. Team training helps build employee relationships.
Your in-house team structure dovetails nicely with proven learning strategies that increase learning. Cohort-based learning (a model used in Emeritus’ online courses) places students in a group. They interact during classes, as opposed to each student watching a lecture and completing coursework alone. This type of education, allowing students to progress through the curriculum at a unified pace, became popular in the 1990s after it was realized students could motivate each other, increasing student retention and course completion rates.
Cohort-based learning is inherently hands-on, and a recent Harvard University study has shown that students gain more knowledge from active learning than from lectures. The collaborative aspects help students develop social capital and social networks, which can improve their understanding during class. It also impacts their future professional development by establishing strong social ties within professional networks.
Fostering these social benefits within a team unit brings the benefits of cohort-based education directly into the workplace and impacts team dynamics.
2. Team training increases employee engagement.
Following the engaged learning in team training, team members can apply their knowledge directly to the work environment. Engaged employees are enthusiastic participants willing to invest their energy in the company’s success. Not only do engaged workers give their best in the workplace, but they are also less likely to leave the company, improving retention rates.
The statistics on the benefits of engaged teams are striking and measurable. A meta-analysis by Gallup found 36% of U.S. employees and 20% of the global workforce are engaged at work. According to Gallup, when compared to the least engaged teams, the most engaged teams had:
- 23% higher profits
- 10% higher customer loyalty
- 14-18% in productivity gains
- 81% less absenteeism
- 18-43% lower employee turnover
When you train a team together, you hit many of the features that improve engagement. These include opportunities for development and for employee voices to be heard. Though engagement and job satisfaction are not synonymous, engaged employees are usually much happier in their jobs. They find meaning and purpose in what they do and feel fulfilled by investing in their work products.
In addition, training a team offers a venue for professionals to interact differently with their colleagues. And it allows for improved workplace relationships, increasing social cohesion within the team.
3. Training a team improves collaboration.
Even if your team training focuses on a technical subject area (like data analytics or blockchain), your team members will practice applying soft skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and flexibility.
Having employees go through the experience together, discuss topics with each other, and learn cognitive frameworks for evaluating and applying techniques and theories to their projects will expand their ability to work well together. Additionally, an instructor guiding team members in working together on problems offers new input on how the team can function efficiently. This improves the outcomes of the work your team produces.
4. It benefits productivity.
As noted above, engaged teams are more productive. In addition, teams learn and adapt more quickly than individuals, according to Deloitte. Basically, when all team members learn in an environment together, they can apply the skills they gain to the group’s tasks. Collectively learning new ideas and methods gives employees common language and understanding to help them envision more successful and worthwhile goals for their business unit.
Productivity improvements accelerate when groups learn together. The whole team can get on board with a new way of completing tasks quickly. Teams that collaborate well are more productive, as the many benefits of team training feed into productivity gains.
5. Training a team can improve company culture.
A healthy company culture embraces change, inquiry, learning, and discussion, and invests in its workforce through learning and development. Offering development opportunities to teams improves engagement, job satisfaction, and overall happiness, contributing to a positive workplace culture.
There’s no better way to embed the idea of learning into your organization than to offer team training. A learning format where team members interact helps inject a learning culture into everyday processes. Group learning encourages flexible thinking, which can set a course for your company that’s both culturally and technologically resilient. Promoting training within an organization helps employees feel valued and derive meaning from their work. This fosters a culture where the company mission includes individual well-being.
How to Train a Team for the Future
As Senge once said in The Fifth Discipline, “A learning organization is an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.” You can add skills to your workplace by training individual workers, but you will gain even more through team training. Individual employees will enjoy the long-term benefits of upskilling. But the immediate application of learning within a collaborative team will help your company realize gains more quickly.
Engaged employees, learning together, can then apply 21st-century skills training to their planning and ideation, creating a future that will put your company in the best position to survive and thrive in an ever-changing marketplace.
By Julia Tell
You can schedule a meeting with Emeritus Enterprise to learn about employee training options for your workforce. We can help you deliver a curriculum that targets the hard and soft skills your employees need to thrive.