Stop Neglecting Employee Training: Six Tips for Success

Have you ever tallied up the cost of hiring a new employee? It's not cheap. In fact, one study estimates that the average cost ranges from 60 to 200 percent of an employee's annual salary when you add up things like training, lost production, and hiring expenses. This could mean tens of thousands of dollars per employee. In other words, you can't afford to have a high turnover rate in your office - and the only solution is to invest in training, training, and more training.

The Problem of High Employee Turnover

High employee turnover is a natural part of any business. In today's business climate, employees rarely stay with the same company for more than a few years. With that said, companies should be doing everything they can to keep employees on the payroll for longer periods of time. If you don't take employee turnover seriously, you'll expose your business to many negative side effects, including the following:

  • High cost. As mentioned, high cost is perhaps the biggest negative of employee turnover. When it comes down to it, most businesses can't afford regularly to spend thousands of dollars to fill lower and mid-level positions.

  • Lost time. The second biggest issue with high employee turnover is lost time. It can take weeks or even months to find and place the right employee for a position. Each time you lose an employee, you have to do it all over again. This is time intensive and takes away from productivity.
  • Poor team dynamics. Finally, high employee turnover is directly related to poor team dynamics. If people are constantly coming and going, it's hard to establish a cohesive work environment in which coworkers know each other and get along. In the end, this damages your business and inhibits optimal employee satisfaction.
  • By understanding the full effects of high turnover rates, you can begin to focus your efforts on lowering volatility and establishing long-term stability. The problem is that most people don't understand one of the primary causes of high employee turnover.

    The Answer: Employee Training

    In highly technical industries, one of the biggest issues that employees have is the feeling that they're inadequate or underprepared for the responsibilities that they have in front of them. From an employer's perspective, this is a simple thing to fix - but it requires a heavy investment in training.

    While the investment in continuing education and training may seem expensive, it's pennies when compared to the cost of losing an employee and hiring a replacement. With that said, let's take a look at some important tips regarding how you can invest in ongoing employee training that keeps employees satisfied and reduces costly turnover.

    1. Outsource the Training

    In regard to training, one of the biggest complaints that you'll hear from employers is that they don't have the time or in-house resources to provide additional training outside of new hire training. Quite frankly, this is a bogus excuse.

    It's actually cheaper and more practical to outsource training. For example, certain subject matters like IT can easily be outsourced. There are a number of vendors offering video-based courses that can be taken remotely. All that you have to do is connect your employees with these programs.

    2. Let Employees Choose Training Topics

    Another good tip is to let employees choose training topics. The reason why this is a good idea is that nobody knows your employees better than themselves. Using our IT example, an employee struggling with a particular security solution has incentive to take a class on this topic because they know that it's an opportunity to get better at their job and continue advancement.

    Letting employees choose their own training topics also shows them that the organization cares about them. "It helps build loyalty, and loyalty increases productivity," writes Victor Lipman of Forbes.com. "Taking an honest interest in someone builds loyalty. Loyal employees are more engaged. Engaged employees are more productive."

    If you leave the topic and curriculum selection up to company executives, it's highly likely that they'll choose topics that aren't actually relevant. When it comes down to it, letting employees choose training topics is a smart move for employee development and satisfaction.

    3. Promote a Culture of Learning

    If you want employee training to be a mainstay in your business, then it needs to become second nature to employees. You must establish a culture of learning wherein employees are encouraged regularly to identify deficiencies and request training. Employees should never feel ashamed for needing help.

    Developing a culture of learning starts at the very top of your organization. Employees must see that leadership sets an example. If the C-level executives are regularly investing in training seminars and courses, then the entry-level employees are more likely to feel comfortable doing the same.

    4. Start Mentorship Programs

    One way to encourage ongoing training and reinforce the idea that your organization is committed to a culture of learning is to develop a mentorship program. Mentorship programs look different in all organizations but often pair up lower level employees with department heads and executives.

    The purpose of these programs is to keep employees engaged and to make everyone aware of where knowledge gaps exist and how they can be closed to establish a more even playing field.

    The key to developing a successful program lies in planning. "As with any other developmental endeavor, there are ways to quickly derail the whole thing," points out HR expert Rick Gibbs. If you want to be successful, you need to develop a formal strategy, and make tweaks along the way.

    5. Develop Employees from Start to Finish

    One problem often found in large corporations is a lack of continuity in employee training. Organizations often frontload an employee with lots of training, then offer no learning opportunities after the first six months or year. This is a mistake.

    If you want a culture of learning, you need to plan for training opportunities from start to finish. There should never be a point in an employee's tenure that the company says, "You know everything you can know." There's always something more to learn.

    6. Check Legal Requirements

    Did you know that employee training is sometimes required or highly encouraged by law? For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires certain organizations to invest in training on topics related to workplace safety and health.

    While not mandatory, sexual harassment training is also a smart idea. According to a recent Supreme Court ruling, organizations that fail to exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct inappropriate behavior in the workplace can be held liable for damages.

    It's imperative that you know which courses are required or highly encouraged by state laws and industry regulations if you want to remain in compliance and protect your legal status.

    Stop Neglecting the Real Issue

    While there are a number of causes for high employee turnover, the fact of the matter is that high volatility can often be stabilized with regular investment in ongoing employee training. It's not the only answer, but it's certainly a viable one.

    As you reevaluate your employee retention programs, and begin to study different ways to improve, keep the aforementioned tips in mind. They'll help as you brainstorm ideas with your organization's leadership.