Employee engagement has become an increasingly important part of a company’s retention strategy, with research suggesting that training programmes in particular play a huge role in motivating staff and increasing employee loyalty.

According to a global survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement, 86% of employees believe that job-specific training is important in the workplace.

Martin Naude, CTO at Entelect, says job-specific skills training is one of the most important investments a company can make in its workforce.

“Further training employees in their core functions and specialised focus areas will have the dual benefit of keeping a company ahead of the rapidly changing industry whilst also empowering employees with insights and knowledge of products, technologies and software skills that help build their confidence and increase morale.

“It is particularly vital for companies operating in the corporate environment to have the highest quality skilled employees, especially when it comes to the fields within the technology space. Employees who are competent and on top of changing industry standards help companies hold on to a position as a leader and strong competitor within their industry,” says Naude.

The importance of opportunities to use skills and abilities at work saw a 95% rating among employees surveyed in the SHRM survey, showing that employees want more time to develop themselves.

“Introducing projects that allow employees to develop their own skillset not only increases the satisfaction of the employee but can also lead to ideas and/or products for the company itself,” adds Naude.

For example, Google’s 20% other project policy, where employees spend 20% of their work time working on projects not related to their jobs, resulted in the launch of G-mail and AdSense.

“We recently found that by introducing a similar concept, we added a new dynamic to employees’ daily working hours and an interest to engage with other employees more frequently. We also introduced a rewards program to work alongside the innovation programme that recognises the top innovative products and/or services developed by employees,” says Martin.

He notes that while some businesses don’t offer training due to the additional expense and concerns that it may not offer the value being promised, it is important to strike a balance between using internal resources and outside trainers, the cost can be significantly reduced whilst still providing added value.

“It is important to remember that by investing both time and money in training, employees feel more valued by their employers which in turn increases the retention rate of staff and facilitates business growth,” Naude says.