The Importance of Employee Training

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December 18, 2017

Part I: How Effective Training Saves You Money

As the economy approaches full employment, the competition for top talent increases, as do efforts by businesses to retain current employees.  According to Zane Benefits1, the cost to business to replace an employee who moves on is, on average, between 6 and 9 months of that employee's annual salary.  For a manager who makes $40,000 a year, that's between $20,000 and $30,000.

Effective Workplace Training:  a Key to Enhanced Retention

No single strategy will substantially improve employee engagement and retention.  Ensuring your workers are more satisfied necessitates a multi-pronged approach, one which acknowledges employee accomplishments, addresses their key concerns and delivers competitive salaries and benefits.   But there's another element of a successful retention strategy, one which is often overlooked:  effective training. 

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According to Training Magazine2, investing in training tells employs you value them and the work they do, and that enhances both engagement and retention:

"The fear for many companies is that they spend time and money developing people, only to see them take those newly acquired skills to another company. However, training actually can increase employee retention, when the training reinforces the value of the employee…Associates want to feel that the job they do is important to the success of the business and that the business is investing time and money in them to have the job done correctly, and at the highest level."

The Hidden Benefits of Employee Training Programs

Admittedly, providing employees with the training they need to do their jobs well doesn't come without a cost—but the cost (in time and money) of training programs is more than made up for in the benefits your company will realize, including the following 4:

  1. You'll increase employee satisfaction:  when employees don't feel competent to do their jobs, they're more likely to make mistakes.  That usually means weak performance evaluations and the inability to move up the ladder.  Training your employees will give them the skills they need to succeed, and success breeds satisfaction, fulfillment and loyalty.  According to Autodesk3, that enhanced job satisfaction also translates into increased worker productivity. 
  2. You'll boost efficiency:  the better workers understand their jobs, the more efficient they tend to be.  Employees with the skills necessary to perform at a high level will do their jobs more quickly, and with fewer mistakes.  Many of those mistakes can end up costing your business money—said differently, training increases efficiency, which reduces mistakes, which saves money.
  3. You'll reduce miscellaneous costs:  think of the simplest examples of the kinds of mistakes untrained workers make.  For example, someone who is told to use a copying machine, but hasn't been trained to do so, is more likely to make mistakes, which means increased costs for paper and toner.  Now extend this to mistakes related to more important job functions, like incorrectly creating a CAD drawing, delivering inferior customer service, or misreading key analytics data.  When you provide comprehensive training for your workers, you'll reduce these and similar miscellaneous costs.
  4. You'll retain more customers:  the success of your business is dependent on the extent to which you deliver superior products and services to your customers.  When your sales reps don't know how to leverage CRM data on mobile devices, or marketers don't have the latest information about social media or email marketing, your business is going to lose customers to the competition.  Training these employees will ensure they are able to effectively acquire, engage and retain customers, and that markedly increases the odds your business will succeed.


It's understandable that businesses which are already struggling to succeed would want to invest in employee training.  But it's also important to understand that those very training programs are geared to enhancing employee retention, boosting productivity, increasing sales and growing your business.  In other words, the more effectively your workers are trained, the more money you'll save, and the more money you'll make.

Part II: Programs to Implement Right Away

In Part 1, we focused on why employers should implement employee training programs, with a particular focus on the monetary benefits of these programs. In Part 2, we expand on this idea by showing you what types of programs to implement, as well as the efficacy of specific training programs.

Sexual Harassment Training

Not only is sexual harassment a form of discrimination under federal law, it's currently a hot news topic and has gained social standing under the #metoo movement. Accusations of sexual harassment have thus far taken down music moguls, elected officials, company executives, comedians, and chefs. As such, companies now have more incentive than ever to implement a sexual harassment training program. But not all of these training programs are created equal, as some are more effective than others. 

So what does an effective training program for sexual harassment look like? A recent article in the New York Times4 differentiated between ineffective and effective programs with the following: 

  • PowerPoint presentations, employee manuals, and mandatory seminars are ineffective;
  • Empowering bystander intervention and encouraging civility in general are some of the most effective forms of sexual harassment training. 

The major difference between what's effective and ineffective lies in how well the training tries to change workplace culture. In the past, for instance, sexual harassment training has been known to backfire as it reinforced gender stereotypes of women being weaker than men. Modern training programs thus tend to focus more on civility, such as speaking up on someone's behalf if they're being harassed. 

Diversity Workplace Training

Another hot button issue is cultural diversity and sensitivity. As with sexual harassment training, diversity training can backlash. However, a meta-analysis on diversity training conducted over a 40-year period showed it can be effective depending on the method used. Based on this study and some independent research, Harvard Business Review5 came up with two different exercises that should be part of an effective diversity training program:

  1. Perspective-taking, where one walks in someone else's shoes.
  2. Goal-setting, where a person sets specific, measurable goals related to diversity in the workplace. (E.g., calling out inappropriate comments on the spot when overheard). 

Both exercises empirically resulted in changed behaviors, where participants provided more support and displayed less mistreatment towards traditionally marginalized groups. This outcome is in contrast to other programs that seek to only inform people that cultural differences exist.

Skills Training Programs

We live in a fast-paced society where one skill we learn today can easily become outmoded within a few years or even months. Indicative of this phenomenon is how technology rapidly changes. For instance, iPhone seems to release a new version bi-annually these days, along with frequent updates to apps and other software programs.

In dealing with technology's ever-changing interface, Harvard Business Review6 suggests training should be more than just a once-in-a-while activity. Rather, employers should think of training as a continuous, ongoing process. That training should additionally be: 

  • Employee-driven, with individuals being able to choose their own career development programs.
  • Flexible, with on-demand and distance-learning options.
  • Tailored to different learning styles, as different generations have different comfort levels with technology.    
  • Built around mentorships, with companies providing managers with incentives to coach and pass on knowledge to employees. 

A Tenet for All Training Programs

Even with industry spending billions on learning and development programs annually ($164.2 billion in 2014), many executives wonder about the efficacy of these programs. While much of that depends on the target audience, many studies point to two factors that enhance the effectiveness of any training program: tailoring and frequency. 

Tailoring a training program to individual employees' needs has the benefits of: 

  • making employees feel special, thus building trust; and
  • making the best use of employee's talents.

As Marcus Buckingham once said: "Most people do not use their talent, at work, at all."  

In addition to keeping up with changes, continuous learning is the most impactful because: 

  • employees appreciate you taking an interest in their career; 
  • frequent interactions with management builds trust; and 
  • according to Harvard (2), skill development is most impactful when it occurs over a significant period of time. 

In tailoring any program, just be careful not to overburden your employees and managers with too many education requirements.

If you have questions or suggestions pertaining to this material, please feel free to contact us. We at Lorman Education Services are always happy to hear from our readers. 

Information Sources:

  1. Zane Benefits: Employee Retention – the Real Cost of Replacing an Employee
  2. Training Magazine: Training Increases Employee Retention
  3. Autodesk: Importance of Employee Training: 6 Reasons Why It Saves You Money
  4. Claire Cain Miller, "Sexual Harassment Training Doesn't Work. But Some Things Do." December 11, 2017. New York Times. Available at
  5. Alex Lindsey, et al., "Two Types of Diversity Training That Really Work." July 28, 2017. Harvard Business Review. Available at
  6. Keith Ferrazzi. "7 Ways to Improve Employee Development Programs." July 31, 2015. Harvard Business Review. Available at


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