Balancing Training vs. Retention

February 8, 2000
Now more than ever, companies are investing in training to fill the need for need for highly skilled, knowledgeable employees. But the more a company spends on employee training, the greater the concern (and likelihood) those skilled people will leave and take their knowledge somewhere else—resulting in poor return on investment.

Bruce Tulgan, president of Rainmaker Thinking, Inc., offers a few ways to overcome the paradox of training vs. retention.

  1. Offer flexible work arrangements. If your company just offers a full-time, onsite, uninterrupted, exclusive working arrangement, then you have only one way of getting any return on your training investment. It means you’re relying on someone staying for the long haul. However, by using part-time help, telecommuters or sharing staff with other employers, your chances for getting a better return on investment go up.
  2. Put employees through ‘boot camp’ right away. Don’t draw out the learning process for new hires. Make it swift; otherwise they’ll get bored, feel unproductive and may start thinking about leaving.
  3. Create a just-in-time learning infrastructure. Anticipate learning needs over a period of time; provide information resources in different media, and give employees the remote control. Most employees learn best when there’s a need to know and if they can avoid learning A, B, C when they need to know D.

SOURCE: Excerpted from "Solutions for Training," from the January 2000 issue of HRfocus magazine, with permission of Rainmaker Thinking.