3 Simple Considerations.
The cartoon above is a light-hearted way of addressing an age-old business issue. The importance of finding staff, training them and holding on to them once you’ve managed those things will always be central to business (any business), because ultimately, staff will always be central. Maybe your business is a big food manufacturer, and you need hundreds of employees to man the production line. Maybe it’s a small IT firm and you need a team of four or six developers. Ultimately, the numbers aren’t important. You want to know they have the skills and the dedication to get the job done, and you want to know they’re not planning to jump ship any time soon – you want the competence and the continuity. These aren’t sentimental considerations either, obviously – competence speaks for itself, but continuity has a real effect on productivity and the bottom line. Employee replacement costs can run to anything from 50 to 150% of that employee’s salary when the impact of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, etc are all taken into account: (source), and even once all those steps have been taken, the new employee isn’t necessarily going to be working to optimum straight out of the gate – it can take time for anyone to come to grips with a job (up to 32 weeks for some sectors, apparently (source).
It’s common-sense statistics like these that bring us back to our little cartoon. We’re a training company (we make online training content and learning management systems, more info here, if you’re interested), so perhaps it won’t surprise you to hear that we believe effective staff training is a good way to avoid those kinds of costs, but hear us out! There’s method in our madness; here’s three simple considerations that might help make our point:
- Staff won’t leave:
We’ll address the myth of our opening cartoon first of all. It is a worry that contributes to companies’ reticence to train. You invest your time and money in training programmes and material for staff, who as soon as they’re upskilled will flit off to some competitor who’ll reap the benefits of your investment. It may be a result of coming of age in a credit crunch or it may be just one of those things, but the up-and-coming millennials of Generation Y (perhaps counter-intuitively) are more likely to be looking for advancement within their existing organisation (source) than the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who preceded them, and training becomes a crucial facilitating step in achieving that goal.
- Modern employees trade off usable skills against the absence of a job-for-life:
In (comparatively) recent industries like the tech sector, the idea of a job-for-life is already a quaint and archaic concept (source), but that culture and attitude has crept quickly across the entire employment market. People no longer feel the security of a well-defined, long-term position that will last them to retirement. Modern workers have compensated for this development by accumulating skills and competencies that have a sale value in the marketplace. The commonest misinterpretation of this fact is that all employees are constantly on the lookout for greener pastures to which they can decamp at a moment’s notice (our previous sources give lie to that idea); the fact of the matter is that it has become a necessary preoccupation for modern workers. In lieu of the security that previous generations have enjoyed, they have to be flexible and competent in potentially quite a wide range of disciplines. For better or worse, this is what security means to a modern worker.
- People are less productive when they’re not happy:
Maybe this is obvious to you, maybe it’s not, but it’s now apparently a verified fact (source). Workers are on average 12% more productive when they’re happy. There are lots of factors in a workplace that can influence this, but undoubtedly one of them is having the security I spoke of in the last bullet-point. Also, competence is a key factor. People, as a general rule, want to feel that they are able to do their job and are pulling their weight (case in point here). People want to feel valued, challenged and useful, and training is a very effective way to accomplish that. Employees who have a clear path to train, cross-train and request training of interest to them are employees who are engaged with their work and displaying an interest in and dedication to being as effective as they can be (source). You want these kind of employees in your organisation, because ultimately, your organisation is only as good as the people who populate it (source).
These are three golden rules to bear in mind when approaching employee retention. However you address them, for the good of your business and your bottom line, they must be addressed.