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Cathy Wellings


Head of Intercultural Training

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How regular training can reduce employee turnover


Zig Ziglar, the renowned US motivational speaker, rightly said, “What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them!”

There are three common fallacies made about investing in training. The first is that once employees are trained, they are likely to look elsewhere for better opportunities, the second is that it is cheaper to replace staff than invest time and money in training them, and finally the third is that employees sometimes resist training and even see it as micro-management. All these assumptions are incorrect – let’s look at each one separately.

Staff Attrition

Studies show that training increases worker productivity, improves employee satisfaction and motivation, and consequently staff retention.

Cost of Replacing Staff

Regarding the cost of replacing staff, a survey of 500 HR professionals, sponsored by Allied Van Lines, found that it costs an average of almost $11,000 to fill one position, with an additional $21,000 per new hire for relocation. Clearly, staff attrition is expensive and research shows that it can cost from 30 percent to over 250 percent of an individual's total annual compensation.

Staff Resistance to Training

Finally, there is perhaps some truth in staff resistance to training when it is presented as mandatory or off-the-shelf. However, when training is linked to employees’ professional and personal objectives and made relevant to the organisation and their job role it can be seen as empowering and beneficial rather than a waste of time and energy.

Some companies see attrition as inevitable. They look outside for reasons, blaming the economy, family and other personal considerations or modern cultural trends. But very often the reasons are internal. Capable and ambitious employees are constantly looking to expand their expertise and sharpen their skills so that they stay up-to-date in their chosen field. If an employer does not offer learning and development opportunities, they risk losing talented staff and ending up with poor performers. Demotivation due to inadequate training or opportunities to learn and to advance within the company forces frustrated employees to look elsewhere for professional and personal satisfaction. Conversely, happier and more contented workers who are supported through training are more likely to be loyal to their employer.

So how should you plan, prepare and project manage business-critical training for your staff? What should be your strategy to make training attractive and worthwhile? Here are eight tips to engage your employees:

  • Start by giving your senior management team training in leadership skills so they are effective in creating and maintaining rapport between themselves and their staff. Training topics should include goal setting, emotional intelligence, managing conflict and giving constructive feedback.
  • Create an atmosphere of trust and goodwill between you and your staff, as well as among the staff.
  • Next, clearly define the required and relevant critical skills and knowledge needed for each role. Make sure all training is tailored to the specific needs of both the organisation and the individual employees.
  • Ensure that training goals are aligned with company business objectives. But don’t stop there. Training in areas such as communication skills, cross-cultural awareness and languages can also be invaluable, particularly in global organisations with a multi-cultural workforce
  • Vary delivery methods to include both traditional training room learning as well as on-the-job training. Keep up-to-date with new learning technologies, particularly when developing training initiatives for your ‘Generation Y’ employees. Training methodology is changing rapidly and already eLearning is making way for mLearning; i.e. using mobile devices to deliver certain types of training.
  • Evaluate training both soon after the sessions as well as several weeks later to assess the real impact of the training.
  • Motivate staff by demonstrating that training is a talent development rather than remedial initiative. Do not expect them to complete their usual workload on top of a whole day or two’s training. In fact, having the training away from the office can help with team building while making the experience more positive. Training should be something your employees look forward to rather than something they dread.
  • Offer additional incentives such as certification, bonus or even a gift for those who successfully complete the training. Recognition can be a powerful incentive in making staff feel appreciated. Trained and qualified staff expect a higher salary but should also recognise that you are increasing their value by investing in them. The organisation and the individuals both clearly share the benefit of the training.

In the words of Karen Cariss, CEO of talent management organisation PageUp People, “Enabling employees to understand the career paths available to them and equipping managers with the tools to recognise the positions and individuals critical to organisational goals are necessary to ensure the long-term success of a company and its workers.”

The bottom line is that investing in your employees is common sense. Those employers who invest most in their workforce are able to hire, retain and develop the most effective, productive and motivated employees.

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Cathy Wellings

Head of Intercultural Training

Read more from Cathy Wellings

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