When I began training nearly 30 years ago, it was common for there to be an uproar for more training after receiving customer feedback scores or a mystery shopping report showing a decline in service and standards compliance. Yes, training was thought to be the magic bullet to cure any ill within the organization. While that cry for training for the sake of training is still often heard, there are new reasons to consider the importance of why training is important and necessary to be successful in a 21st century work place.
They Crave Training
More than ever, companies are competing to attract the top talent from a new generation of workers that will soon be the largest in the workforce. It is imperative to keep in mind that Millennials don’t just want a paycheck and benefits—they want to work for an organization that will allow them to acquire skills and knowledge to grow both personally and professionally. This will soon be the largest generation in our workforce, so we have to cater to them to some degree.
“This is a revolutionary shift from the traditional sense of on-the-job training. Training no longer exists solely to meet compliance or company-mandated policies. The best training program today is a rich learning experience that taps into employee interests, passions, and career goals,” Adam Miller wrote in Fortune Magazine.
Tied to learning is employee mobility. Most Millennials expect to have multiple careers in their lifetime. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average young adult has held an average of 6.2 jobs by age 26. Why not enable them to shift careers within your organization? Give them access to the training and learning they need to move both vertically and horizontally. “Let them experience the company holistically and build a lasting bond,” says Adam Miller in “Three Things Millennials Want in a Career (Hint: It’s Not More Money).”
Training = Increased Employee Morale
So this new generation, as well as many from Gen X and the Baby Boomers, sees the value in acquiring knowledge and skills as a reason to join and stay with an organization—particularly if it benefits them both personally and professionally. The end game is happy employees equals happy customers.
According to Inc.’s definition of Cross-Training, it states, “If employees believe they have the potential to improve within the company, they will be generally happier with their jobs and more willing to go the extra mile when needed. Employees will be more productive and feel more a part of the overall mission of the company. This usually leads to a high overall morale.”
Increases Customer Advocacy and the Bottom Line
An engaged member of your workforce is far more likely to welcome knowledge through training as well as to seek it out on his or her own. This can only benefit your overall customer experience and create advocates of your brand. “Well-trained employees are more capable and willing to assume more control over their jobs. They need less supervision, which frees management for other tasks. Employees are more capable to answer the questions of customers, which builds better customer loyalty. Employees who understand the business complain less, are more satisfied, and are more motivated. All this leads to better management-employee relationships,” wrote Gregory P. Smith.
He continued, “A study by ATD showed that ‘leading-edge’ companies trained 86% of employees while ‘average’ companies trained only 74%. Leading-edge companies also spent twice as much per employee on training. Companies that invest the most in workplace learning, the study showed, yielded higher net sales per employee, higher gross profits per employee, and a higher ratio in market-to-book values,” according to Smith in “Training and Development Leads to Higher Productivity and Retention.”
How Can You Afford Not to Train Your People?
So, if you were a skeptic of why you should invest in training, have I helped to convince you that while it increases morale and retention, it assists in creating brand advocates and most importantly affects your bottom line? Next month I will dive deeper into what this training should look like in order for it to be memorable, motivating, and effective for all members of your workforce.