What Happens If You Don’t Train Them and They Stay: Hiring and Retention of Employees – Mel Kleiman

What Happens If You Don’t Train Them and They Stay: Hiring and Retention of Employees - Mel Kleiman

This employment ad made me chuckle: “Join Our Fast-Paced Company, We Have No Time to Train You.” It’s a new world out there in a lot of ways, but foregoing employee training is not the road to riches.

This employment ad made me chuckle: “Join Our Fast-Paced Company, We Have No Time to Train You.” It’s a new world out there in a lot of ways, but foregoing employee training is not the road to riches.

A survey by management search firm BridgeGate LLC, Irvine, Calif., found that when it comes to staying on the job, workers under the age of 24 are twice as likely to be influenced by the amount of training provided than by money.

These young workers saw their parents go through downsizing, rightsizing, and outsourcing and they’ve concluded that employment does not mean job security. They don’t expect to stay 20 years and collect a gold watch. No, their only sense of security is what they know and know how to do. That’s why they value training so highly.

When I recently suggested a convenience store client start the hourly-employee training program during an employee’s first week, he said: “Why bother? Most of them will be gone in a month anyway. We don’t spend money to train anyone until they’ve been on the job for 30 days.”

This is the worst kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course the company’s turnover is 120 percent – the employer’s “sink or swim” attitude is the reason. Why should employees care about the company or the job when it’s clear the company doesn’t care enough about its employees to train them?

A new, in-depth study by the Gallup Organization shows a consistent, reliable relationship between 12 worker beliefs and bottom line measures like productivity, employee retention, and customer loyalty. One of the critical factors cited by the employees surveyed was “the opportunity to learn and grow” – in other words, training.

Too many employers still think of training as a perk for management-level employees and give hourlies only some rudimentary technical training for a couple of days before sending them out on their own.

As I see it, this is completely backwards. It’s the people on the front-line who interact with your customers. In today’s world, the only difference between you and your competitors is the people you hire and how well they’re trained.

Starbucks Coffee’s legendary success can be attributed in part to the fact that they never stint on hourly-employee training. Besides teaching new hires how to make double-tall, skinny mochas, the training staff encourages them to take pride in their work and tries to instil a sense of purpose, commitment, and enthusiasm. When it comes to providing customer service, trainees are told they can use their best judgment and that management will support their decisions.

You should think of training as an investment because the returns are proven. One training group reports: “With the clients who have us track results, it is not uncommon for us to demonstrate a $10 to $20 return for every dollar invested with us in training.” Sprint, Xerox, Microsoft, and General Electric are just a few of the large corporations with Corporate Universities – and they didn’t become successful by wasting any money. The value for smaller companies is arguably even greater. Orchard Supply Hardware considers its New Employee Training program important enough to include in their benefits brochure.

The fundamentals of a good employee training program are: orientation, soft skills training, and technical skills training.

One of the keys to employee retention is new employee orientation, yet we know of employers who have no orientation program whatsoever. I even know of a middle-management executive who reported for his first day on a new job only to discover that no one was expecting him.

You only get one chance to make a first impression and that impression will make a tremendous difference in the level of commitment and motivation the new person decides to invest in the job. Filling out forms can dampen the enthusiasm of even the most positive person, yet many employers make the mistake of having new hires spend the first day completing the required paperwork and sitting in mind-numbing, skills training classes.

Orientation sets the tone for the entire relationship. It should include time for introductions all around and informal conversations with co-workers and management. New hires need an overview of the business and the company’s mission – preferably delivered by the president. Tell them about growth and career opportunities. Let them know you believe they’re going to be a valuable part of the team and that you’re glad to have them on board.

In highly competitive industries, some companies even stretch orientation out over several months in order to familiarize every new employee with the company, its products, it culture and policies – even its competition.

Simply put, it’s a case of “getting what you give.” Whether you have a full-fledged Training Department or you do it yourself, when orientation conveys the sense that new employees are valued, then new employees value their jobs and stay longer – even when the inevitable frustrations arise.

Few employers overlook the importance of technical skills training, but training for soft skills lags far behind. Does your training program cover how to be a good team member, customer service skills, or time management? If the job is demanding, do you teach people ways to deal with stress?

A good training program doesn’t have to be expensive. Many employers have found peer training is a valuable and inexpensive alternative to a full-blown Corporate Training Department.

Just form a group of somewhat experienced, good people (or pick one good person) and have them learn the needed skills through vendor-supplied information, training seminars, self-teaching and collaboration. Then, assign each group member a particular application to master. When they became experts, they teach the rest of that group and then they all can train other employees.

This kind of program gets a lot of bang for the buck. First, you’re teaching a core group how to be trainers – a new competency they’ll take pride in adding to their skills inventory. Second, your employees will appreciate being taught by people who have actually “been there and done that” instead of by someone who has never actually been in the trenches.

If you want quantifiable data that shows the return-on-investment delivered by any training program, first measure the pre-training performance of an individual or group. This assessment of training needs is followed by a problem diagnosis and description of the needed training. Then assess the difference in the trainees’ behaviour and performance after training. Finally, the monetary worth of the impact of changed performance is quantified.

For instance, if turnover is the beast you can’t control, start doing exit interviews religiously. If you determine a lack of training is the reason a lot of good people leave, start a training program. Then compare pre- and post-training turnover statistics. If you know what it costs to recruit, screen, and hire a new employee, you can assign a dollar amount to how much training is saving your organization.



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