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Training – a benefit or a burden?

Jun 13, 2017

Category: General / Posted by: pjones

By James O'Connor

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. That quote is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. Whether it be at school, at university or in the workplace, education is the key to improving a person’s ability to think independently and to improve life opportunities.

When we consider education within a working environment, this normally takes the shape of training. This can either be training that an individual decides to pursue in order to improve their chances of getting a better job or gain a better understanding of their chosen sector, or that an organisation chooses in order to improve the performance of their staff.

For organisations who have identified a need for their team to improve their skills, it can be difficult to decide what kind of training they want; should it be in-house or off-site? Face-to-face or e-learning? Which staff members need the training? And how much will it cost? When considering these questions, it can be easy for companies to decide that the process of organising training is just too hard and time-consuming and the issue of staff training can fall off the agenda altogether. After all, when do you have the time to consider your training requirements? When you have orders to fulfil and customers to satisfy? This leads to many companies, big and small, believing that the burdens of educating their team outweigh any potential benefits.

Some of the most common reasons for not training staff members include:

 “We don’t need to train our staff. They learn on the job”

“We haven’t got the time to let our employees take training”

 “The last training we had didn’t go very well. Our staff didn’t learn anything new”

“Our team aren’t interested in training”

“We have high staff turnover”

 “Training costs too much. We can’t afford it”

In this blog, we will address each of these concerns.

 

“Our team aren’t interested in training”

“Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or could not learn.” — Sir Winston Churchill

Negative connotations with training and further education (some established from a young age) may lead many organisations to think that their staff wouldn’t appreciate having to go through a learning programme. And when the idea of training is proposed, it might feel as if it is being imposed as a disciplinary matter, or because they are not doing their job properly. But it’s important to consider the facts. According to research by Middlesex University, of a sample of over 4,300 workers, 74% felt that they were not achieving their potential at work. Moreover, the main reason for this was cited as being because of a lack of self-development opportunities.  And in 2015, 7 out of 10 said that job-related training and development opportunities directly influenced whether they decided to stay with a company. ‘Millennials’ are those most eager to learn; as more and more younger people join the workforce, this needs to be considered. What do these findings indicate? That people want more opportunities to learn, not fewer.

 

“We don’t need to train our staff. They learn on the job”

“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.” – William Arthur Wood

It’s true that learning on the job helps newer team members to develop and learn how to do their job, whilst they are actually doing the job itself. This might seem like a cheaper, and more time-efficient alternative to training. But what are new staff members actually learning? Understanding how their supervisor or other team members do the job is fine, but are they learning or just repeating the company process? Is it enabling them to achieve their true potential? A lot depends on the person who is training them up - without a good learning strategy, you have no control over how your new and possibly easily influenced employees learn. If new employees pick up bad habits, or are doing the job the way it’s always been done without considering if there a more efficient ways to do it, it can be very difficult to change this way of thinking. And many modern learning programmes are based around work placed learning, which allows your staff to learn as they do their work. This helps to develop a balance between improving their knowledge outside of work and learning on the job. 

 

“We haven’t got the time to let our employees take training”

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” — Henry Ford

Since 2012, the time devoted to training or further learning has increased by 12% as businesses look to train up their team following several years of belt-tightening following the worldwide recession. But if your organisation is running to a tight schedule, the thought of having to lose members of your staff for a period of time might seem daunting, especially if you have a small team. But think of it another way – how much time is your organisation wasting each year through avoidable errors and bad procedures? Giving your employees an hour or two per week to study on their course could save your company hours of wasted time if they are able to implement better working practices. For example, by allowing your team to study, they could learn new, effective ways to save time in their day-to-day work. By learning a simple but effective new way of working, your team could realistically seek to improve productivity by 10%. That’s 42 minutes per working day – or 9,492 minutes over the course of the average working year in the UK. A fantastic return on the time you invest on your team!

 

“We have high staff turnover”

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to”. – Richard Branson

If your organisation suffers from a high turnover of staff, you might not think that training new team members will be financially worthwhile. Why train people if they will just leave anyway? But ask yourself - is high turnover hindering my business? And consider the reasons why you have a high turnover; Lack of motivation? Poor performance levels? Better job offers frequently come along? The cost of retaining employees is much less than the cost of replacing them every few months. Establishing the reasons behind why people leave your business can help to not only maintain continuity and save on constantly having to advertising for new staff, but also save money too. Especially as the cost of losing an employee in their first year can be up to three times that person's salary. And this puts pressures on existing staff too; if members of your team are constantly having to train new people, they will suffer from lower productivity as they need to spend time with new recruits. This can put pressure on the entire Supply Chain. Providing further learning opportunities can help your employee feel wanted and helps to develop career pathways, making them less inclined to look for job opportunities elsewhere. Having invested time and money, you might still feel that the possibility of them leaving is too high. But if you don’t train them, there’s a good chance that their next employer (and possibly a competitor) will. Don’t let your talent slip away – give them reasons to stay!

 

“The last training we had didn’t go very well. Our staff didn’t learn anything new”

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein.

Bad experiences are, unfortunately, inevitable a lot of the time. When it comes to training, you might have had an experience where you didn’t feel you got a return on your investment, or that your staff didn’t actually learn anything new. If you have experienced bad training in the past, you might understandably be reluctant to go down that route again. It’s important to remember that there are lots of different options available when considering training, and it doesn’t have to be old-fashioned lecturing which could bore your team to sleep! The best ways to study are where your team are able to participate in the training, and study methods that enable your team to put what they learn into practice. You also need to consider the delivery of the learning; whether that is through eLearning, face-to-face learning or a blend of the two. Each method has its benefits and it’s important to consider which would be most suitable for your team before you begin the training. You should also ensure that the learning provider understands your needs – at LLA, we can help establish your training needs by providing your company with a free Development Needs Analysis which can identify what training is required. This helps to ensure you have a developed plan, tailored to your needs.

 

“Training costs too much. We can’t afford it”

“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?” ―Thomas J. Watson

Training is a substantial cost, and one that your organisation might have to think long and hard about before deciding to proceed. But as with allowing your team the time to study, you should also consider the benefits financially. The average company spends 85% of its operating costs on the staff payroll, and less than 1% on providing the opportunities staff members need to develop themselves. If 85% of your costs are in labour, won’t you want to ensure that you are getting value for money? You should consider training up your team not as a cost but as an investment in the future of your business. If your warehouse was too small to meet your company’s growing needs, would you decide to stay at that warehouse and not meet the growing demand? Or would you move to a newer warehouse so you could meet all current and future demands? The UK average spend per employee is £1,068.00. With a trained team likely to be 10% more productive than an untrained one, this equates to an excellent return on investment. Training your employees in industry-standard best practices can also assist in helping to build your reputation within the sector – which can give you the edge over your competitors.

 

Summary

Over the years, training has suffered from something of an image problem. Negative stereotypes of in-company learning has made many businesses, and even some employees, think that it’s all about sitting in a room and just listening to a lecturer for several hours, without any real terms benefit to the day to day job.

In this blog, we have tried to address some of these concerns. We know that most employees want more opportunities to learn and that learning new things is better than just repeating old processes. We know that training up your team can lead to an increase of 10% in productivity and can help decrease staff departure rates. And we also know that the right kind of training can have huge benefits for your organisation and is a worthwhile investment in the future of your business.

Developing your team shouldn’t be a box ticking exercise or a chore, and it doesn’t have to be something that strikes fear or dread into your staff. Improving your team should be about developing their skills and knowledge so they become better at their job, and become more confident in themselves. Establishing a pro-learning, pro-opportunity environment within your business will not only encourage your staff to stay, but will persuade other talented people to join. A trained team are a happier, more valued, more productive and more effective team.

If you would like to discuss options for developing your team, please call us on 01530 276591 or 07717 758352 or email enquiry@logisticslearningalliance.com.

Resources

http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/statistics-on-corporate-training-and-what-they-mean-for-your-companys-future

https://elearningindustry.com/5-facts-about-corporate-training-hard-believe

https://elearningindustry.com/5-reasons-need-invest-employee-training

https://www.getadministrate.com/blog/key-uk-corporate-learning-stats-for-2016/

https://www.trainingindustry.com/workforce-development/articles/the-good,-bad-and-ugly-of-employee-training.aspx

https://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2015/08/30/why-your-employee-training-is-a-waste-of-time-and-money-and-what-to-do-about-it/3/#4f7344a115b7

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/good-bad-ugly-employee-training-keith-findlay

http://learnkit.com/2015/07/16/4-costly-risks-of-not-investing-in-employee-training/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-reasons-why-cutting-staff-training-tough-times-bad-idea-eisenbarth

https://www.mindflash.com/blog/why-people-hate-training-and-how-to-overcome-it/

http://www.allencomm.com/blog/2015/09/13-learning-and-development-quotes-to-spark-inspiration/

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