By John Hales, Global Knowledge VMware, AWS and SoftLayer Instructor. Certifications: A+, Network+, CTT+, AWS Certified Architect & SysOps - Associate, VCP-DCV, VCAP, VCP-DTM, VCI, EMCSA
In tough economic times, training is one of the first areas to experience budget cuts within organizations. It seems to make logical sense, after all, since training is an easily quantifiable expense while the return on investment (ROI) is more difficult to quantify. Think about it this way: Would you want a doctor operating on you who graduated from medical school 25 years ago and hasn’t learned about the latest developments in healthcare? Would you want this doctor to prescribe medicine that existed 25 years ago instead of one that has fewer side effects and created a year ago? Training makes all the difference and is critical to the success of both the professionals and companies alike.
According to Global Knowledge’s 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report—an annual report that draws data from over 14,000 global respondents and provides insight into salary trends, must-have skills and sought-after certifications—more than two-thirds of IT decision-makers reported having either a current or a near-term skills gap on their team’s skill levels. The biggest reason for that gap is that their organizations provide inadequate investment in training and/or experience difficulty in finding qualified applicants.
Training vs. Development
There is an important distinction between the terms training and development, especially as used by Human Resources (HR) departments. Training entails learning new skills (such as cloud computing when your IT work is onsite) while development is an enhancement of existing skills (such as advanced training on a product in use).
During economic downturns, HR departments sometimes see the need for development but not training, which might be OK in the short term, but soon thereafter, development for outdated skills is ineffective. Training is required to keep up with new technologies and to discover better ways of accomplishing tasks. In short, organizations must invest in both training and development to stay competitive in the marketplace.
Training increases productivity and reduces mistakes, which collectively enables organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively. While you can learn from your mistakes, they result in a reduction of quality, which creates indirect costs to the business (such as re-creating the desired outcome — correctly this time — as well as fixing issues retroactively). In the aforementioned IT survey, nearly 47 percent of IT professionals stated they trained to prepare for certification while 84 percent of respondents worldwide took some form of training in 2016 regardless of its connection with certification.
Increase Employee Satisfaction
Additionally, employees who feel their employer invests in the development of their skills are more loyal to the company. When employers advocate for the personal development of their employees, staff members become happier and more satisfied with their work. Under such circumstances, employees usually have a growth plan within the organization, leading to advancement opportunities and pay increases. Forty-two percent of respondents who took training in 2016 reported feeling fully satisfied with their current position. What’s more, the connection between job satisfaction and the likelihood of moving on to another organization is strong. Seventy-one percent of respondents who are not satisfied with their current position are looking for new employment opportunities elsewhere.
Once trained, employees are better prepared to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies and developments in their work, which leads to cost savings as well as greater productivity; this directly influences a business’ competitive edge and thus its success. These newly acquired skills can used to advance the company’s goals, again benefitting the bottom line of the organization. A full 75 percent of those taking training say they wanted to build new skills.
A well-trained team is typically more unified and cohesive, helping them to function like a well-oiled machine. This further drives the benefits previously discussed.
With more training, the workers can work with more autonomy, requiring less supervision and the overhead that comes with that. They will still need strategic direction and support, but less micromanagement.
Costs of Not Training
Looking at the other side of the coin, companies that do not invest in training are disadvantaged in several ways.
Untrained employees often feel like the organization doesn’t value them, leading employees to look elsewhere to improve their skills — whether by changing organizations to one that has a more liberal training policy or by paying for their own training to land a better job elsewhere. This is especially problematic in a tight labor market where many companies are looking for qualified candidates in which there is a limited supply.
Cost of Training vs. Cost of Replacing an Employee
If an organization sees employees as expendable — just use them and hire replacements if needed — that approach doesn’t take into account the costs employee turnover (vacation and sick time accrued; severance, if required; exit interviews with management and HR; unemployment while the employee finds a new job, and so forth). Additional costs are required to hire a new employee (significant investment of HR’s time; job posting; applicant screening; and interviewing potential candidates).
Furthermore, companies experience a reduction in productivity with new hires until they become well versed in the company’s way of doing things. (Several months are typically required in order for new employees to become fully acclimated.) When all costs are accounted for, it is much more expensive to replace an employee than to keep one.
In situations where a candidate may receive multiple job offers, the perception of how well a company treats their employees gives that company an edge over others. In many cases, an employee may accept a lower salary with better benefits (such as training and job advancement) over one that works the employees to death with a higher salary.
Tim Williams of the Ignition Consulting Group, writes, "One of the frequent arguments against investing in professional development is 'What happens if I train my people and they leave?' A better question is 'What happens if you don’t train them and they stay?”
Ready to convince your manager to let you train? Check out our template to ask about training opportunities.