Why Businesses Need to Rethink the COST of Training Employees

CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave?

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

This dialogue between a CFO and a CEO has appeared on LinkedIn and on other websites. The question is one that highlights the different schools of thought – COST vs. COST of not.

It’s the age-old dilemma in business, often of short-sighted and unevolved thinking…being afraid of the cost of doing something, and not focusing on the cost of NOT doing it. When you only focus on the cost of doing something (it’s too expensive, we don’t have time, etc.) without considering the cost of NOT doing it, it will most definitely have long term effects.

A smart decision does not overlook the cost of NOT doing something. The cost of NOT training your employees results in many negative consequences; poor customer service, mistakes, rework, misunderstanding directions or process, lack of compliance, lost customers, and more. All these results COST money and always cost MORE than the actual COST OF doing the training in the first place!

The decision on whether to provide training to your employees should NOT be based on possibility of people leaving your company. If that’s the rationale behind your decision, you’re actually providing (and not providing) training for all the wrong reasons.

Many business owners wish this were not true, but a working relationship is like any other relationship in your life. The success or failure of any relationship is based on how much YOU put in. The health and future of that relationship depends on how much responsibility YOU take for your contributions and initiatives. It goes for your partner, and it goes for your employee. If you only give based on what you might receive in return, how long do you think your relationship will last?

The same is true for you as an employer. If you are thinking “I’m not training my employees to provide them with skills, motivation and focus, because they might leave next year”, that’s like saying “I won’t put any gas in my car, because it will run out anyway, so why bother”. See the flaw in that thought process?

Providing training to your staff is an investment for your business, not a present that you give resentfully. The investment in your employees’ training goes much deeper than the ROI (return on investment) concept. It’s about making YOUR COMPANY better, not feeling entitled to a return from your employees. Training will provide skills and motivation, re-focus and commitment to the tasks, and infuse your teams with energy and vision. Your company will benefit from having more motivated, focused, and positive people.

Worries about employees leaving are simply not reason enough to not enable those who stay to be more effective and passionate about the job they do for you every day. You will benefit more from the many people who will stay versus those few that might leave.

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.
Sir Richard Branson

Think about the kind of employer you want to be. The key comparison is not staying vs. leaving, it’s about evolving vs. stagnating. For your company, what do you choose?

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