Hiring Wisdom: Why Training Your People Can Really Pay Off

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Training pays. Sometimes, it’s easy to underestimate just how much it pays.

Consider an employee who is going to work 2,000 hours for you this year. It’s not unusual for an organization to spend only 10 or 20 hours training this person – which means about 1 percent of their annual workload.

bestHow much training would it take for this person to be 10 percent better at her job?

Here’s how much: If you invest 100 hours (!) it’ll pay for itself in just six months. There aren’t many investments an organization can make that double in value in a year.

Here’s how training can pay off

But let’s take it one step further:

Imagine a customer service representative. It might cost $5 for this person to service a single customer by phone. An untrained rep doesn’t understand the product, or how to engage, or hasn’t been brought up to speed on your systems. As a result, the value delivered in the call is precisely zero (in fact it’s negative, because you’ve disappointed your customer).

On the other hand, the trained rep easily delivers $30 of brand value to the customer, at a cost, as stated, of $5. So, instead of zero value, there’s a profit to the brand of $25. A comparative ROI of infinity.

And of course, the untrained person doesn’t fall into this trap once. Instead, it happens over and over, many times a day.

The short-sighted organization decides it’s “saving money” by cutting back training. After all, the short-term thinking goes, what’s the point of training people if they’re only going to leave? (I’d point out the converse of this — what’s the danger of not training the people who stay?)

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Time to take responsibility

It’s tempting to nod in agreement at these obvious cases (or the similar case of getting, or not getting, a great new job based on how skilled you’ve trained yourself to be — again, a huge cliff and difference in return). What’s not so easy is to take responsibility for our own training.

We’ve long passed the point where society and our organization are taking responsibility for what we know and how we approach problems. We need to own it for ourselves.

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.