The Training Investment

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Time and expense are the primary issues that consistently come up in any discussion of training needs, and these issues impact smaller organizations to a greater degree than large ones. Companies often struggle with the costs associated with training, but many times forget about the benefits well-trained employees provide the company.

Companies need to invest in their employees. The benefits of training are not always immediately apparent; however, having an employee who is happy means you have a productive employee—one who is loyal and will likely stick around for a long time.

Studies demonstrate that paying higher wages only provides a brief jump in employee satisfaction, while continued training provides long-lasting employee satisfaction because it demonstrates the company’s commitment to each of their employees’ success and further development.

Training also helps businesses enhance their return on investment. As budgets become leaner, many companies begin to look at ways to reduce expenses; reducing or eliminating your training program should not be on this list.

As a good practice, organizations should follow a planning process that enables them to examine their needs and risks and establish the most appropriate response to improve their employee capabilities. Companies have to build strong skills by offering leadership programs, mentoring and promoting. Recognition and rewards are also important factors in attracting and retaining employees.

Trust and openness are important for flexible working arrangements, as well. Employees need to feel that they are trusted to manage their time and deliver results without unnecessary scrutiny. The three main aspects of why an organization needs to focus on employee training are: employee satisfaction, increased productivity and high efficiency.

Employee Satisfaction

It has been found that employees change jobs more for career and training opportunities than for money and benefits. In fact, seeking opportunities for the long term rather than a current position has more influence over job change than monetary compensation. It is evident that money is a satisfier, not a driver, of employee loyalty.

The most important factor in training is to connect the training to the employee’s job and work objectives. It is ineffective to ask an employee to attend a training session on sales presentations when their immediate need is to learn how to test, sample and analyze—the employee will regard the training session as a waste of time. Whenever possible, connect the training to the employee’s work objectives, and make certain the employee understands the link between the training and their job.

Increase Productivity

With the current economic downturn, many businesses are engaging the expertise of training companies and human-resource firms in an effort to keep employee morale and company profitability and productivity high. In the long run, productivity creates more jobs than it eliminates. There is no limit to productivity improvements because someone will always find a way to do things better.

Your company’s productivity does not rely on the number of employees you have, but on how well each of them is performing as an individual and fulfilling their roles as a team player. Thus, it is crucial to your business’ success that employees maintain a high level of motivation, otherwise your company efficiency will slow and the first blows will hit your production and profits.

Satisfied employees will not only stay on board but they will also be highly productive. Prior to training, explain what is expected of the employee during the training session. This will help reduce one’s normal anxiety about trying something new. If they know what to expect, they can then focus on the learning rather than their potential discomfort with the unknown.

Creating Efficiency

Make clear to your employees that the training is their responsibility and that they need to take it seriously. They are expected to apply themselves to the training and development processes before, during and after the session. This includes completing pre-training assignments, actively participating in the session and applying new ideas and skills upon returning to work.

Training is a powerful method in creating a unified culture within an organization by establishing a standard curriculum that is embraced by senior management. A unified culture ensures all employees and management are trained, aligned and driving the organization in the same direction.

Electronic Training

Many companies that understand the economics and value of broadening their employees’ skills are turning to electronic-training models to make training more cost-efficient. Electronic training is faster, easier and in many cases, more focused than traditional classroom training. Benefits include:

Savings. Rather than requiring expenditures on transportation, meals and lodging to attend conventional training, e-training can be conducted from the home or office. More people can also be trained within the organization because an online training seat is usually less expensive than a classroom seat.

Access. Coordinating schedules can be the most difficult part of conducting a class. With e-training, classes can be recorded and replayed as often as needed. E-training solutions can also be accessed at a pace suitable for each student.

Training is often only considered for new employees. This is a common mistake because ongoing training for current employees helps them adjust to rapidly changing job requirements.

Educating and training your employees is vital to our industry and to surviving in today’s competitive and ever-changing marketplace. As the business world continuously changes, organizations will need to provide their employees with training throughout their careers.

You can enhance the impact of training even further if the employee understands the link between the training and their ability to contribute to the accomplishment of the organization’s business goals.

In today’s economy, employees are less likely to shop for higher wages or better benefits. Do not let the lack of a beneficial training program be the reason why one of your key employees leaves for a better opportunity with your competitor.

Tania Shammo, CWS-VI, is quality assurance officer for the Water Quality Association. Shammo can be reached at 630.929.2542 or by e-mail at tshammo@wqa.org.

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