Having previously worked as training consultant for over a decade, there are two important lessons I have learned:
I have often seen how, over time, the value of technology can diminish due to a lack of ongoing or refresher training. Additional training is often viewed as cost of a service that does not generate revenue and therefore is frequently overlooked when budgets are prepared. In reality the cost of training is minute compared to the cost of failing to adequately maintain trained staff. A lack of training results in:
Diminished proprietary knowledge
There's a reason that learner drivers are advised to receive lessons from professional driving instructors rather than their parents. While parents will have many years of driving experience, they are often unaware of new road rules and have usually acquired bad driving habits that they pass on to their children. It is exactly the same when you allow current staff to train new employees. Not only can they teach new employees their own bad habits, they can also only train staff on processes in which they are proficient - not the full capability of the technology solution, which changes with each new update. Within an organisation, this type of training gradually diminishes the proprietary knowledge of the technology solution as each new staff member learns less and less. A recent article by Cushing Anderson (2012) cites "Knowledge leakage is the degradation of skills over time, and it occurs in every organisation, every time. It doesn't discriminate based on operating system or platform, but it can kill organisational performance in as little as a couple of years"
With diminished knowledge of your technology systems comes a reduction in productivity and performance. A client recently requested assistance as staff were resorting to weekend and overtime work to keep up with business demands. Following a short consultation, it became abundantly clear that it was not the technology that was at fault. It was simply that all current employees had never been trained nor had any knowledge of their chosen technology solution. Factoring in the number of employees who were working overtime, their hourly rate and the number of hours, what are the odds that it would have been less expensive to simply organise a single session of training? Not to mention the number of hours that could have been spent on other matters more conducive to revenue generation rather than struggling with a technology solution they could not use nor understand.
High staff turnover
Employees view training differently to employers. While an employer views training as a cost of implementing a chosen technology solution, employees view training as an indication of their value to an organisation. They see how an organisation is willing to commit money, time and resources to ensuring their employees are equipped with the skills to do their job. This leads to increased job security and satisfaction and overall happy employees. Happy employees translate into lower staff turnover, which in turn leads to lower staff recruitment costs. How much would it cost you to initiate a training refresher course in your organisation? Now compare that to how much it cost you to recruit your last employee.
Keeping these hidden costs in mind, my question to you is how much is not training your staff costing your company right now?
Rose Harding is the Product Marketing Executive at Adept Business Systems. She has over 15 years of experience in business software applications in vertical markets that include wholesale distribution, hospitality, foods and commercial property. An ERP, CRM and marketing specialist, she is also skilled in customer support, training, consulting and pre-sales.