Making Do with Less Shouldn’t Apply When it Comes to Training
When times are bad and the economy experiences a downturn, we are continuously bombarded with bad news—more losses, more layoffs, more fraud. With all the negativity and fear, there is a natural tendency for us to want to skrimp and save whatever money we can.
We start by cutting unnecessary expenses at home. We put off buying that new car, taking the family vacation, or buying our kids that new pair of shoes they want. We survive with less. Companies are no different. Executives are quick to look for ways to reduce their costs, too. To delay reducing their headcount or trimming their operations budget, they might start by cutting employee benefits.
But when training and development programs come on the chopping block, companies should pause and reconsider. These types of programs play a vital role in keeping employees engaged and productive, and they help companies maintain a skilled workforce in good times and bad.
Training enhances the culture, protects the brand
Training and development programs help broaden professional skills and competencies. They also allow employees to contribute more significantly to the company, helping them better recognize their organization’s objectives. Employees also tend to feel a greater sense of loyalty to their company for its having invested in their professional growth. Happy, empowered employees can be great assets as brand ambassadors.
Training and development programs fall into a variety of categories. Skills training helps employees deepen their professional knowledge and capabilities so they are better equipped to perform their current jobs or are prepared to take on new roles. Specialized training such as management, customer service, safety, technical, or computer competency training helps employees focus on one particular skill or set of skills they can use to grow within their roles or the company. And there are also social and ethics training programs, which all employees should attend, that delve into important issues such as diversity and inclusion, code of conduct, or sexual harassment and misconduct.
Once employees receive critical training, they are able to relate more closely to colleagues’ perspectives and respond more quickly to customers’ needs, enhancing a company’s culture organically. Training deepens their understanding of the organization and the people they work with both inside and outside the company, which ultimately expands their decision-making capabilities.
As a result, employees’ efforts become more focused and relevant, their attitudes more tolerant and positive, and their customer interactions more perceptive and meaningful.
A deep bench allows for successful succession planning
In harder financial times, your team is especially in need of quality talent to fill its bench. Just as a sports team wants all its players conditioned and prepared to perform at their peak for tournaments, your company needs its employees to be trained and capable of competing no matter what the current market challenges may be.
Training and professional development programs can augment employees’ capabilities and instill a sense of self-confidence that makes them better able to perform and take on greater responsibilities as the need arises. No one wants to think about the possibility of job cuts, but should your company be forced to reduce staff down the road, cross-training employees now can ensure that your remaining team is primed to perform multiple tasks to make up for the loss of talent.
Some business owners would like to hope that in a tight job market employees will be satisfied with the status quo. But the reality is that there is always a demand for good talent and exceptional people can find work in any economy. If employees are dissatisfied, they will be open to a move, and it will likely be your top performers who are ultimately hired away, leaving the less-experienced or less-skilled employees behind.
Continuing training programs will help ensure any employee is prepared to step up when or if it becomes necessary. Of course, by providing opportunities for career development and advancement, it is also more probable that your top performers will feel more invested in sticking around.
If you train them, they will (likely) stay
Don’t buy into the age-old myth that if you train your employees, they will be more likely to take their newly earned skills somewhere else. The opposite is actually true. Employees who are offered opportunities to develop their skills often feel greater job satisfaction and are more committed to their employers, thus they are more likely to stay.
If employers neglect their employees’ intrinsic desire for professional growth and development, there can be negative repercussions. Some employees may become dissatisfied and choose to pursue a career path that appears more fulfilling. Others will stay, perhaps because of a lack of opportunity or motivation, but they are likely to be disenchanted or disengaged and those feelings may ultimately be reflected in their performance or worse—they can spread to other employees.
Investing in effective employee training programs can provide companies with both immediate and long-term dividends. And when the market is down, it’s good to have something that will deliver positive returns.