- Investing in employee training is a foundational part of any business, and the cost is small in comparison to lost workers, skills, and opportunities.
- Program styles are evolving with new technologies and hybrid working models.
- Building employee skills improves retention, productivity, products, and your bottom line.
Business owners largely understand that their employees need reliable hardware, high-quality protective gear, and up-to-date software to perform their tasks. But many fail to recognize another pillar of employment: effective training. They see the costs of implementing an employee training and development program as incompatible with their long-term business objectives.
But to retain a happy, fulfilled, and productive workforce, research validates the importance of employee training. According to a 2020 Work Institute survey, 20% of employees who voluntarily left a job did so because of a lack of career-development opportunities, including training or upskilling. This turnover costs US businesses $630 billion annually, or about $15,000 per employee departure.
In today’s competitive employment field, with labor shortages worsening, employee training and development can attract and retain talent. Companies can also use training to enhance employee performance; boost productivity; and improve their culture, reputation, and revenue. The cost of implementing employee training is a small price to pay compared to the lost skills, lost workers, and lost opportunities in the big picture.
Why Employee Training Is Important
Increasingly, advances in technology, changes to workplace processes, and shifting strategies reveal where employers and employees do not align, instead of where they do. The answer to this mismatch? Skill assessment and training. Effective training is one of the best ways for company leaders to instill a knowledge base and improve job skills in their employees. It also helps managers pinpoint what each worker should know and be capable of to become more productive and more valuable.
When a company invests in an organized, efficient system of employee training, it helps ensure employees are learning in a consistent, systematic way. Ultimately, this improves their skills and knowledge, prepares them for greater job responsibilities (and potentially advancements), and shows them they are a valued part of the company.
In turn, business owners will reap the rewards of employee training: lower production costs; less time spent correcting mistakes; and safer, more inclusive organizations. Research shows that companies that invest in their workforces see less turnover than companies without quality training programs.
In fact, employees who feel their company invests in them, providing opportunities to upskill and expand their knowledge base, are more likely to stay. What’s more, a 2020 Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn Learning shows that some employees are more likely to take part in training if management acknowledges their efforts. And the Work Institute study found that training (or the lack of) is the fastest-growing category of reasons employees voluntarily leave their jobs, increasing 117% since 2013.
The good news is that employers have begun listening to employee requests for more focused, intentional skilling opportunities. According to the LinkedIn Learning 2021 Workplace Learning Report, upskilling and reskilling is the No. 1 goal of learning-and-development (L&D) programs in companies right now. (In second place, another type of employee training: leadership and management.) Companies that are reducing their investments in these programs, or do not have them at all, will be left behind by a workforce that is rapidly growing and evolving.
The Cost of Not Training Employees
Some businesses from all sectors cite cost as a reason to avoid employee training and development programs; this can lead to diminished value and lost potential revenues.
Untrained Employees Equal Unhappy Employees
Employers and companies want to safeguard their “investment,” meaning the people they’ve hired. It costs about $15,000 to replace a person once they’ve voluntarily left, and that doesn’t account for the ripple effects of lost work as other employees absorb responsibilities or lose out on their own productivity. But retaining employees requires putting a great deal of effort into bolstering them, making them feel adequate and supported.
It’s an investment that is sure to pay off: One study found that at one company, employee turnover rate dropped from 89.6% to 56.7% in one year after companywide training programs were established.
Another thing to consider is that unhappy employees are more likely to underperform and make mistakes. They are also less likely to care about the quality of their work and work product. By giving them the resources to do their jobs properly and to learn about advancements in their area of expertise, a business can mitigate lost time and money from underperforming employees.
Untrained Workers Have a Low Production Value
If employees don’t know how to properly use all the tools at their disposal, their quality of work is lower and of less value. They lose more time to trial-and-error mistakes, and the company loses resources in the form of wasted materials. This can leave clients or customers dissatisfied, and the employee, who feels underprepared and under-resourced, is likely to leave.
Untrained Workers Are Inefficient
More time, money, and effort are wasted when employees aren’t fully or properly trained to perform their tasks or fulfill their responsibilities. One study found that productivity was 23% higher for trained employees versus untrained employees. Workers without proper skills may take longer to complete tasks or may have quality issues with their work. If this lower-quality product or project is passed on to clients, the resulting hit to a company’s reputation could be significant.
Time and Money Lost Due to Mistakes
When an untrained worker makes a mistake and the work has to be redone, the time and materials used are lost. Or, worst-case, the inadequate product was delivered to the client. Training an employee prevents wasted product and protects a brand’s reputation with customers. In fact, IBM says proper skill training is linked to $70,000 in annual savings.
An Increase in Miscellaneous Expenses
These expenses are more difficult to track or attribute to untrained workers. For example, incorrectly creating a 3D-printed model leads to reprinting the file. This takes more time to fix the mistake, more materials, and more time rechecking the work.
Insufficient Staff Training Means Lost Customers
Untrained employees can pass mistakes along in the form of incomplete or inaccurate products. Untrained or undertrained workers may be seen as a direct reflection of your company’s ability to organize and manage its talent and brand. When prospective customers (or existing ones) see this as a weak area for a company, you could ultimately lose them.
Types of Employee Trainings
Effective employee training is not a one-size-fits-all calculation. As the work landscape shifts to remote work and flexible schedules, the idea of what the best type of employee training looks like is changing.
This traditional style of learning requires employees to sit in a room with instructors. It’s an efficient model for accounting for the time spent in training, but it’s not always the best for real-world applications. Some workers need a more targeted method of training, one that is available to them just before they need to deploy the new skill or use the new machine.
Coaching and mentoring are especially effective types of training for entry-level workers—but those relationships can be expanded to include people you’d like to help advance within your company. In this style of training, more junior employees work with a supervisor or senior member of the team to learn how to execute their jobs, align with their goals, and achieve better results.
Simulations and role-playing help employees see how potential scenarios could play out before navigating them in real life. This learning-by-proxy method can help teach employees what to do or, more important, what not to do when they encounter a similar situation. These simulations can be performed in a person-to-person training exercise, as part of a classroom course, or as part of an e-learning campaign in which workers watch videos of the simulations to understand what is expected of them.
Virtual reality (VR) training is rapidly becoming a better solution for training and development as more employees work from home. VR training in the workplace can simulate a classroom or on-the-job training experience. It may be especially helpful for people in construction, engineering, and health care: InsiteVR, for example, connects with Autodesk BIM 360 so architecture, engineering, and construction professionals can collaborate on design discussions, site walk-throughs, and more.
Training videos are not limited to role-playing scenarios. Companies can build a catalog of videos for their employees to reference in either structured, required allotments, or as-needed for specific skill training. Videos can be made available to all employees, including remote employees, those on worksites, or anyone not working in a traditional brick-and-mortar office. This helps expand employee training to the entire workforce.
Some employees respond better to training on their own time or as they need it. Reading materials, a classic form of training and skill reinforcement, are versatile and beneficial. They can be utilized by workers anywhere, as long as the files or books are made easily accessible.
To ensure employees are engaged with the training they’re receiving, some companies measure understanding or comprehension with timely quizzes. These quizzes could be interspersed between segments of training videos or after instruction in a classroom setting.
These quiz results can reinforce the training in the moment, and you’ll be able to evaluate whether the skill was efficiently explained, which can inform your training plans going forward.
Software programs such as Autodesk Fusion 360 are designed to “learn” how you work, then implement on-the-spot teaching to help you master job skills and the programs you use daily. The programs can reinforce other types of training or be used on their own.
Other Types of Employee Training
The world of employee training is evolving as companies find new, more effective means for working with their staff. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have shifted to video conferences, webinars, and online forums for instruction. Peer-to-peer training remains important for onboarding new employees or preparing existing employees for advancement. But the best types of employee training meet the company’s needs for instruction and training while also adhering to the employee’s preferred style.
15 Benefits of Employee Training
Employee training and development can pay off for companies in big and small ways. Here are a few examples of what can be accomplished when effective training is put into place and regularly scheduled.
1. Staying Up to Date on Industry and Technology Updates
Employee training programs can help employees regularly reinforce their basic skills and advance their knowledge base so that they remain productive, engaged, and competent. These updates extend beyond lingo and acronyms to new technology and innovations, as well as the latest in anti-harassment standards or detecting cybersecurity threats.
2. Reviewing Company Policies
Just as technologies change, company standards and missions may change, too. One of the best ways to communicate these policies is with compliance training and education. When everyone is aligned with the company’s values, employees feel more inclusion with their fellow workers and with the organization. This helps build loyalty and trust, which is especially important to millennial and Gen Z employees, who tend to be interested in working for organizations that reflect their values.
3. Developing Soft Skills
The 2020 Work Institute Report found that employees consider soft skills—which include communication, problem solving, time management, and decision making—critical to their career over the next three years, even more than technical skills. This insight gives companies an opportunity to help their employees grow in ways that are important to them—which is beneficial to the company in the long term.
4. Improving the Transition to Remote Work
The shift toward remote or hybrid work in the last three years has been staggering. A 2021 Gallup poll found that 56% of US workers were working fully remotely or part-time on a hybrid schedule, and 23% said they would stay remote if given the option. Training and development can be used to effectively teach employees new tools, introducing resources and processes without the need to physically gather people in one place.
5. Collaborating More Effectively
Teamwork and communication are critical to businesses but aren’t always the easiest behaviors to foster. Training, including role-playing and scenarios, can help employees learn how to be open and more effective communicators with coworkers, managers, and clients. Providing the opportunity to practice these skills will make deploying them easier, even for people who are not drawn to these behaviors naturally.
6. Increasing Product Quality
The benefits of employee training extend far beyond its impact on you or your workforce. IBM reports (p.7) that customer satisfaction for companies using learning technology is higher by 16%. When your workers are exposed to consistent, high-quality skills training and improvement, they work better professionally and are more productive. Customers experience those differences through better service and more efficient interactions.
7. Managing Tasks Better
Training can help employees manage their time, their tools, and their tasks, individually or as a group. When employees have a better understanding of the processes of the company and know how to properly use the tools they need, they can better execute goals and tasks.
8. Boosting Morale
A prepared worker is a happy worker. When an employee can master a task and feel confident in their abilities and duties, that confidence is reflected as greater productivity and improved morale.
9. Promoting From Within
Companies continue to struggle with a skills gap. But instead of endlessly searching for employees who meet the requirements of the labor market, businesses can use training to lift current employees into these important roles. This can engender a sense of the employer’s dedication and support.
10. Increasing Productivity
It’s a given that trained workers are more productive than untrained workers. Efficient employee training equips workers with the skills and knowledge they need to confidently perform their job duties. Workers who do not feel confident in their abilities will put up sluggish results and may be slower to adapt to changes.
11. Making Work Processes Uniform
Standardization is a strategic advantage for companies, especially amid constant change and uncertainty. Clear communication about a job, what’s required, and what processes will be followed will result in consistent follow-through and better results. And because everyone in the company will have undergone similar training, they can understand processes and carry out jobs without explaining the basics repeatedly.
12. Reducing Supervision
Employee training will reduce the need for excessive supervision, though, of course, it will not eliminate it. Employees who have participated in training and development programs will feel more confident in their knowledge; this confidence equates to competent, reliable work.
13. Lowering Accidents
Safety is a priority in the construction industry: One-fifth of all fatal workplace accidents are reported from this field. When a construction or engineering company offers its workers effective training and development, its workforce is better prepared to use the relevant tools and machinery. This improves safety and well-being for all employees.
14. Clarifying Objectives and Deliverables
The phrase “get on the same page” adeptly explains a goal of training and development: Set goals with a well-defined plan to execute the actions needed to get there. Clarifying expectations for your employees will help fill communication gaps and address problem areas.
15. Reducing Waste
High rework rates plague construction, engineering, and architecture firms. With efficient training, however, employees learn to troubleshoot problems and anticipate challenges so they make good, economical choices with a company’s materials, tools, and equipment. This cuts down on construction costs and rework.
4 Steps to Implementing an Employee Training Program
Establishing a training program may feel like an insurmountable hill to climb if your company doesn’t have an existing program—or if the one you have feels woefully inadequate. You’re not alone: According to McKinsey and Company, only 40% of companies believe their learning strategies are aligned with their business goals. However, the cost of training and the time spent developing this program will be worth the effort.
If you’re ready to make an investment in training and implement a training program, here’s how to get started:
1. Identify Your Training Needs
Start the process by determining what basic skills or upskilling your employees need for your company to meet its goals. Identify specific business metrics that are currently unmet, then decide what kind of training would help your employees meet those goals.
Questions to ask:
- What impact do I want employee training and development to have on my organization?
- What skill gaps do I need to address?
- How is employee performance impeding our progress?
2. Create an Action Plan
This may be where you need to call in the professionals. Work with employee-training experts to select learning methods that align with your company’s needs and vision. These pros can help you allocate your investment to the right categories to get the results you need.
This may feel arduous, but many great organizations can help you cross this hurdle. This includes Autodesk Training Center, which provides a variety of resources, including connections to consultants well-versed in employee training, as well as reputable, high-quality learning materials.
Questions to ask:
- What are the right types of learning for my company?
- How much training time should be required?
- Should I encourage employees to seek upskilling, reskilling, and learning outside my prescribed training program, such as Autodesk Certification?
3. Institute the Trainings
Outline the objectives of a new training to your employees. Remember, many employees see this investment as a boon to their job. Be open to feedback from employees about the quality of the training or the training type you selected. The training is only as good as it is adaptable by your workers, so their buy-in is essential.
4. Evaluate the Results
Seeing a return on your investment in training is essential. Some results will come quickly, like technology-based training that can show results of quizzes or scenarios in near real time. Some results will come more slowly, like waiting for longer-term results of increased productivity or reduced costs.
Again, an L&D professional can help you evaluate whether your essential goals are being met. You can work together to revisit training programs, reshape them, and redeploy programs that help your company meet its business objectives this year and in the years to come.
This article has been updated. It was originally published in September 2014.