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Training – An Investment or a Cost?

Every business needs well-trained and knowledgeable staff to survive and prosper. So why is the training budget such an easy target? Often the first accounting line to be slashed in times of recession and an easy target even in times of plenty,  lack of time and money are well-worn excuses when training gets canned – but at what price? We’ve all seen the following meme, no doubt:

Training employees costs time and money, that’s a given. There’s often a need for extra materials (from books to software or even hardware) and a need to engage with external third party-suppliers. Costly! Add in the time in which personnel are out of the office or engaged in activity that isn’t core? Costlier still.

It can be difficult to measure return on investment, and with a smattering of previous ‘bad experiences’ and you can see why training is perceived to be a bit of a gamble and it may be better off burying your head in the proverbial sand!

But what’s the cost of inaction? Arguably, greater still….! Training and development is a key motivator. Slash the motivation and you can expect employee turnover to increase. Turnover is costly. Assuming workload remains the same (or increases) then productivity slips and sales will likely decline.

As existing staff work to make good the shortfall then morale is likely to suffer.

Hiring someone new also incurs costs and, assuming you find someone suitable, there’s often a heavy lead-in time before your new staff member joins the firm. More cost!

Even if employees don’t head for the exits, morale is likely to suffer. Face-to-face and social networking means it’s easier than ever to understand the benefits that people get in similarly titled positions with different firms. Savvy company websites will often make a very hard sell for their own ‘employee package’ to help them attract or poach or retain the best and brightest… and that information is all just a click away.

Unhappiness doesn’t just manifest in job searches either – it means employees find it difficult to want to (or even be able to) go the extra mile and adopt new more efficient ways of working.

When mistakes are made by untrained workers, the time taken and materials used are often lost if the work has to be started again from scratch – and that means more time and more money. The consequences if mistakes leave the building and reach clients or customers can be far more damaging – potentially ruining profitable client relationships forever resulting in lost customers.

The danger of doing the same old things, the same old way? Inflexibility and inefficiency. As your workforce struggles on, not reaching their full potential, not knowing the savvy shortcuts to increased productivity, your clients will become ever more demanding, expecting output on their own terms (or at least on the terms your competitors can already deliver). It’s time to start building in agility by cross-training and upskilling employees, in turn fostering greater collaboration and team spirit.

Suddenly, cutting the training budget doesn’t seem like the wisest move. That up-front cost of time and money actually seems quite reasonable when you consider the long-term benefits… a trained workforce can improve production, increase efficiency, reduce mistakes and generally create a better working environment which should mean your staff stick around for longer.

Perhaps it’s time for those who hold the purse-strings to think again when it comes to training?

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