Workforce stability is a big issue in my membership. And it seems to be an issue where moving the needle can be difficult. Yet, when an organizational budget needs to be trimmed, the first thing to go on the chopping block is staff development and training. I would argue that the budget item needs to be protected.
A lack of investment in staff development has big impact across the board but one area that sticks out as obvious is avoidable staff turnover.
I recently worked with Cara Silletto, MBA, President of Crescendo Strategies and a workforce expert. I asked her whether it was true that a lack of investment in training and development for younger workers could be linked to their unnecessary and early departure from an organization. Cara pointed out that “today’s young workers are continuous learners who expect their employers to provide ongoing educational opportunities.” Cara went on to explain that without opportunities to advance their skills “the staff are likely to get bored quickly and/or feel “stuck” in their roles sensing no advancement opportunities. This causes avoidable employee turnover.”
And it is not just providing opportunities for the younger members of your team. Making sure that your leadership team members receive good training in supervisory skills is also crucial to keeping turnover numbers down. Cara reminded me that “Ineffective management is the leading cause of unnecessary employee turnover, which means training new supervisors and managers often dramatically improves retention.” Cara’s advice is: “Before you cut your training and development budget, analyze how successful your new supervisors will be when managing their direct reports without having the tools and training they need. Those unprepared supervisors could cost the organization thousands of dollars in replacement expenses as their direct reports leave one after another.”
Often leaders do not take the time to compare the costs of training and development against the costs of turnover. Investing in your team sends a message about how much they are valued which builds retention capital.
I do understand that there are times when the belt must be tightened, but you can still provide ongoing training and development opportunities to your team in a way that is budget friendly and can help mitigate avoidable turnover. Here are a few ideas:
- Consider a subscription to an online learning site like Lynda.com. The site offers over 5,500 courses in a broad range of topics. And make it part of the employee’s goals to go through an agreed upon number of courses.
- Tap into your network. Who do you know that is successful in an area in which you’d like to train your staff? Ask them to do a seminar. Most people are flattered to share what they know and enjoy giving back.
- Encourage your team to volunteer at conferences. Often the registration fee is waived or deeply discounted.
- Reach out to other organizations of a similar size and co-sponsor trainings. Splitting the cost for the same training makes sense. And trainers usually charge the same amount to train one person as they do 100.
- Challenge a member of your staff to become an expert in an area that you’ve identified as lacking. Have them present what they have learned and then reward them with a small bonus, additional vacation days, or whatever is appropriate.
There is a pretty famous quote that sums it up nicely:
CFO asks CEO: What if we invest in our people and they leave?
CEO: What if we don’t and they stay?