Training Rage: Counter it with a Solid Business Case

As a learning professional, you know your trainings and learning programs are serving an absolutely vital function in boosting the performance of your workforce. You know this, but what do you do when the rest of your company doesn’t seem to be convinced? In fact, what’s more frustrating than your own company resisting your training efforts? It’s enough to induce training rage. The only way to overcome it is to make a very clear, solid business case for training. Here are some ways to explain the benefits of investing in employee training:

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  • The Common-Sense Approach. Let’s say you need to have some kind of surgery to prevent a medical condition from worsening and seriously threatening your health. You’re presented with two different surgeons to choose from. One has had lots of training, and the other has had no training. Which surgeon would you choose? Obviously, you would choose the surgeon with lots of training. Why should it be any different in your business? The health of your company is largely determined by the ability of its employees to perform well. Training them just makes good common sense.
  • The Big Picture of Business Impacts. At the turn of the millennium, the American Society for Training and Development (now the Association for Talent Development) conducted research that showed some serious positive business impacts related to training. Companies investing $1,500 per employee compared to those spending $125 experience an average of 24%  higher gross profit margins and 218%  higher revenue per employee. Increasing training expenditure per employee by $680 can generates an average 6% percent improvement on total shareholder return. In fact, the companies with the foresight to invest the most in training enjoyed a 36.9%  total shareholder return, compared to just 25.5% for the S&P 500 index for the same period. Simply put, it’s hard to argue with those numbers (source).
  • Employee Retention. Employees who see that their company is willing to invest real time and money into their training and development are more likely to feel the company values their contribution, and are therefore more likely to stay. Take the case of Verizon Wireless, which spends precious financial resources on tuition assistance for employees motivated to advance their education. Retention rates among workers who participate in tuition assistance are higher. According to senior vice president of workforce development Louann Tedrick, “We’ve found on the Verizon Wireless side year over year that the value just in retention pays for what we expend, so it’s a net neutral to a net positive investment for the business (source).”
  • Turnover Cost Savings. The flip-side of retaining employees is saving on the substantial costs of turnover. The big-picture numbers here are startling: The fully-loaded costs of turnover have been estimated at 1.5 to 2.5 times the salary paid for the job in question, or $50,000 exit across all jobs and industries in the US (source). It’s been said that upwards of 40% of employees who receive sub-par training will leave their positions within the first year, usually citing the lack of training as the primary motivator for leaving. Investing in training can help your company avoid the staggering costs of turnover.
  • Increasing Performance and Productivity. Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” professional services companies, understands the importance of its people’s assets, which is why the company continued to invest substantial sums in training even while other companies were slashing their learning and development budgets. As Diana O’Brien, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and managing principal, Deloitte University, puts it, “Better-skilled professionals deliver more and better work. With the rapid pace of today’s business world and the fast-changing environments in which we’re all competing, success truly rests upon our people’s ability to solve new and ever-more-complex problems. Continuous learning is essential to gaining this competitive edge” (source).

An important thing to keep in mind, however, is that resistance to training from your company, is only one source of resistance. Perhaps even more common is the resistance among employees – the very people you’re trying to train. You can find out more about how to overcome both forms of resistance in the new white paper, Training Rage: Overcoming Resistance for More Effective Learning.

April 27, 2015   Updated :April 28, 2015   talent management, training   
  • Ongoing training not only ensures that employees have a greater skill set, but it also keeps them engaged. Employees want to be able to learn more in order to advance. If they aren’t given these opportunities, they will seek them elsewhere.

  • You are absolutely right. One of our favorite lines is, “train them well enough to leave, treat them well enough so they don’t have to.”

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