Put the Training Wheels On

It’s the beginning of September in Boston.  The weather is gorgeous, the Pats start their season tomorrow night WITH Mr. Brady in the line-up, thank you! The Sox are  . . . Well, we won’t talk about the Sox this year! And, as usual, I can’t get to my favorite restaurants in the Back Bay or Cambridge.  That’s because every year, over 250,000 students descend on our town like ants on a picnic.  Traffic is snarled, cars are triple-parked in “Haaavaad” Square and on Beacon Hill, and the sidewalks are a veritable sea of moving boxes.


While businesses don’t have the equivalent of the “first day of class” as our academic counterparts, September is a great time for managers to turn their thoughts to what they will do in the coming year to keep their employees fresh with new ideas, the latest strategies and, most importantly, keep them enthused about their jobs.

While I have never seen the statistics, I would be willing to venture that companies that spend more on training probably spend less on recruiting.  If one of those Harvard professors had written an equation on it, it would look like this:

More $$$$ Spent Training = Less $$$$ Spent Recruiting

Less Time Replacing Employees = Increased Productivity

Trained, enthusiastic employees not only remain in your company longer, they become more of an asset every year. More importantly, trained, happy employees are far less likely to be recruited out of your company, saving you even more dollars in replacement costs. (Believe me, I know!)

In the spirit of hitting the “refresh” button on your current training initiatives or considering new ones, here are five elements to consider as you look at your training situation:

  • BudgetMake sure you have a “per employee” training budget and spend it! If your company is cutting expenses, resist the temptation to cut the training budget.  It will hurt you eventually. (If you think training is too expensive, just give me a call and I’ll be happy to tell you how much it would cost to replace those precious employees!
  • Individual or Group Training: Assess what your department needs.  Do you have some employees who are better trained than others?  If so, individual programs may be the answer. Don’t make your experienced people sit through basic training or training they don’t need.  That’s not motivational.  Instead, find a program at their level and appropriate for their needs. Many professional sales trainers offer a range of programs – from beginners to advanced.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: While many companies offer this, many employees don’t take advantage of it. (And, in most cases, it really does not qualify as “job training.”) Encourage employees to find, or help your employees find, a training program that is appropriate and use these tuition dollars for this training. For example, one sales manager I know put a few of his salespeople into the Toastmasters International Program. It made their presentation skills even stronger and gave them a great boost of confidence.
  • Subsidized Training: Many states have programs that will actually reimburse an employer part of the cost for training.  This is truly your tax dollars at work. Check the website of your state Department of Labor to see their offerings and if your company qualifies.
  • Build Rapport and Have Fun: This is the unspokenby-product of training your employees-and it can be invaluable.  Building rapport among employees happens outside of the work environment with more ease than on the job.  Making your employees gel as a team will not only make your life easier as a manager, but it can have real financial ramifications when they find ways to do things easier, faster and cheaper!

I could write a hundred-page treatise (really!) on the value of training your employees.  But, I’ll stop myself here and instead offer you these valuable websites to check out!

Besides, I’m going to Cambridge tonight to meet friends for dinner at one of my favorite spots and have to leave myself lots of extra time to navigate through those pesky students!!

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