Are you an employer or employee with views on workforce training? I’d love to hear from you and invite your comments below…

What price ignorance? What price training?

As organisational purse strings tighten, training is one of the first things to go. A report in The Guardian mentions that during 2009 more than half the training managers in over a hundred large companies saw their training budgets cut or threatened, so the debate is live – is staff training a luxury or necessity?

I think that it’s worth restating the case: organisations that invest in workforce training and development reap the rewards. At the most basic level, companies that train staff are more likely to survive. Sounds unlikely? Well, according to the recent report that came out in February 2010 called “New Skills for New Jobs” from the European Commission, companies that provide training are 2.5 times less likely to go out of business than those who don’t. Now this could be for many reasons – perhaps only the largest companies are able to offer developed training – but it’s worth looking at the obvious and immediate benefits of targeted training

Portrait of a businesswoman standing in an office

Training provides the organisation with a direct competitive advantage from improved performance and productivity from a workforce possessing updated skills. But there are also numerous ripple effects for a training orientated company and throughout my career I have seen this first hand.

In a provoking book called “The Theory and Practice of Training”, the authors, Buckley and Caple discuss the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits accrued by organisations that invest in training. Training induces loyalty in staff, leading to higher retention rates, lower absenteeism and a more stable workforce.

I have often found that a trained workforce generally has a higher level of morale and are more forward looking and optimistic. This counters the concern of some employees who think that providing staff training will incentivise staff to look for work elsewhere.

Interestingly, employees feel a higher level of job satisfaction – whether it be from being able to perform a task well or by utilising new skills – following on from training. They feel better equipped for their jobs as they can bring a higher level of expertise and skill to the tasks. Trained personnel are more desirable so are stronger candidates to lead an organisation.

I’ve seen how candidates who have committed to training have then gone on to take more senior positions in the company, stemming brain drain from the company. And generally, better trained staff result in lower levels of wastage, fewer accidents or breakage of equipment and greater customer or client satisfaction

Employers can be put off by the financial costs of staff training but the costs of training are traditionally significantly lower than the costs of recruitment, so it makes sense to train the staff you have than look around for new staff. When no training is provided, the employer has to manage the results of substandard work and the demands on managers time to provide extra supervision. When individuals are trained to perform their function more effectively, the organisation is more likely and able to perform at a higher level and compete more successfully in the highly skilled international job market.

But ultimately the economic benefits of training are directly observable on bottom line profitability are significant and that’s what counts.

(And if you want to read more about that, have a look at a 2007 paper by B. Hansson that appears in the Personnel Review (36:2), entitled “Company-based determinants of training and the impact of training on company performance: Results from an international HRM survey”….. something to think about.)

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Comment by Chuck Summerland on June 2, 2010 at 9:44pm
Hi Adam,

I am an employee who has seen the benefits of Workforce Training. I believe your points above hit the nail on the head with many of the benefits I have felt. Every time I participate in workforce training wether its in house or an external course I find myself more equipped professionally and more confidant with myself and my work. You asked if it was a luxury or a necessity, if you had asked that before I have participated in workforce training I would have said it was a luxury. I can now confidently say I believe it is a necessity.

- Chuck
Comment by Adam Lewis on June 3, 2010 at 2:16am
Thanks for the reply Chuck!

I admire your attitude towards training. The truth is that motivating employers regarding the benefits of training is only half the job. Employees need to motivated that their are benefits to training beyond 'another feather in my CV-hat'. Training isn't just a fun day away from the desk. Training is serious business. For everyone.
Comment by Adam Lewis on June 3, 2010 at 3:13am
And I just came across some fascinating new research.

One in four UK employees are planning to quit their jobs in the next twelve months, according to Gfk.

#In addition to continued pay and recruitment freezes, the study found that many organisations are still going through re-organisation (4) and continue to restrict training programmes (5) in order to save costs"

Employers just aren't getting it.


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