A question I often get from clients is: “When should I invest in my employees?” My answer: “Always!” Given today’s economy, the question follows with another, “Will it really be that big an issue if I stop investing in training temporarily?” My answer: “Yes! A very big issue.”
I explain that investing in employees is key to ensuring their success and the organization’s success. Most especially in a down economy – investing in your employees through learning programs, mentoring and new opportunities shows them you are committed to their success. This, in turn, commits them to the success of the organization as a whole. Too often training budgets are the first cut from within the organization and are the last budgets reinstated. Benefits to the organization of continued investment in employees includes:
- more highly engaged employees
- employees willing to go above and beyond to meet organizational goals
- improved teamwork
- increased ability to be competitive
- employees unlikely to be wooed away by competitors
Remember, it is loyalty that you are seeking. And it goes both ways.
Investing in your employees is not only providing them training courses, although that is certainly part of it. They need the opportunity to grow and expand their skills and knowledge and this may be done in a variety of ways, including:
- providing them opportunities to work on new projects or take on new responsibilities
- providing mentoring and coaching
- enabling them to take risks and make mistakes to learn from them
- enabling them decision-making authority where it makes sense
- providing cross-training opportunities – builds teamwork and enables them to get a broader view of the organization
Make sure managers regularly meet with their employees to create professional development goals and a clear path to reach those goals, including an evaluation process, in conjunction with the individual employee.
Reduce Your Expenses
To cut back on instructor-led training costs, consider e-learning and/or virtual training options. Consider learning through assigning employees projects to work on to increase their skills, build their knowledge and enable them opportunities to contribute to the growth of the organization. Provide them a mentor to help guide them. Evaluate your current training programs to be sure they are meeting your needs – make adjustments to them to reduce time and cost, but still provide the employees what they need to increase their knowledge and develop professionally. There may be some programs that can be eliminated because they no longer serve their purpose. Examine your current training programs to look at how to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, while still providing value.
Bottom line, don’t do a complete cut of your training budget and certainly don’t stop investing in employees. Be creative! The investment in your employees will pay off – both in the short term and in the long term.
Keeping Up in a Down Economy: What the Best Companies Do to Get Results in Tough Times (Bob Nelson)
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