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Employee Training as an Investment, Not a Cost


Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, once said: “The only thing worse than training your employees and watching them leave is not training them and having them stay.” This statement, which has been quoted countless times over the last 100 years will never become less relevant – especially in today’s generation, where workers crave information and instant gratification. Knowing useful employee engagement tools can help build your enterprise’s training program and retain your workers for longer.

Unfortunately, there are far too many organizations who see this as common sense, but yet don’t incorporate it as part of their standard operating procedures (a.k.a. common practice). To help clarify this point, put yourself in the seat of the hiring and/or onboarding manager. Say you are evaluating two final candidates for one open role. You have to choose between a very experienced employee that was trained by someone else and an employee whom you will have to train. All other factors equal, if you think that it is a lesser expense to hire the experienced employee you are most likely mistaken.

Such an experienced employee, who receives virtually no training will never become as loyal to the organization as an employee that you have invested time and resources in training. When the experienced employee who has been operating at the status quo gets frustrated they start looking elsewhere because there is no loyalty. Therefore, your organization is now left with the cost of replacing that experienced employee who is now looking in the other direction.

Taking advantage of employee engagement tools can be the solution to this problem. If the employee you have trained, and retrained, and then trained some more feels frustrated, they will most likely go in search of the guidance they need versus another job.

Simply put, whether you agree or not, employees are the most valuable asset to your company – and therefore, you should look to training them as an investment versus a cost. Costs are perceived as liabilities, whereas investments are perceived as benefits.  And that’s how your organization should view the training and re-training of associates. 

What are some of the most visible benefits of employee training?

  1. Increased Employee Loyalty - When an employee is trained correctly, and likewise given the tools they need to succeed, they feel valued and appreciated. This has a direct correlation to loyalty. When an employee is loyal, they don’t have an eye always focused on the door. They instead stay and potentially refer friends and other contacts to the company. Additionally, loyal employees offer discretionary effort and usually require less supervision – thus reducing costs.
  2. Decreased Turnover - Retail suffers one of the highest turnover rates, often surpassing 70% annually – which can translate to tens of millions of dollars to big box retail companies. As stated in #1 above, loyal employees are more likely to stay, creating better customer experiences along the way.
  3. Competitive Advantage - In my own life, I have joined a few companies. In one, I was given incredible training and had great mentors to get me up to speed quickly. In the other, I was simply thrown into the deep end of the pool, not really knowing how to “swim.” In the latter, I often found myself frustrated. And turns out, other colleagues with a similar experience often shared the same frustration, often looking for their way out. When your company places employee training into the investment list versus a simple number on the balance sheet, your organization will quickly realize how you can keep good employees – and most likely – outpace your competition.
  4. Long-term Agility in the Marketplace - Companies that invest in employee training have employees that are able to respond quickly to changes in the market because they are more in touch with customer needs and wants as well as the innovative technologies that are coming down the pipe. I often align the downfall of Kodak with the lack of good employee training. Sure they were a company that was really good at one thing. But when technology started coming along, their employees didn’t know how to respond to it, and likewise missed the boat. Had they better-trained employees, they could have relied on them to see market trends and make recommendations on how to adapt to the changing demands of the market. 

So where does your company start?  You can’t simply flip a switch and provide all the information your employees want and likewise start better training people better than your competition. Instead, you need to start with a strategy and almost immediately lean on your employees for real-time feedback about how they want to be trained. Once you understand the way they want to be trained, the train gets rolling. There is a cost at first, but that quickly changes into an investment – that pays huge dividends.