Training – Expense, Employee Perk, or Business Necessity

Depending on your point of view, you might see employee training as any of these three.  Taken in isolation, employee training does cost money.  There is the actual cost of the training of course, but there may also be travel expenses and room and board expenses if the training is offered out of the immediate area.  Then there is the ‘lost’ productivity while the employee is away from their regular duties.  Finally, some managers are afraid that by providing training, they just make employees more ‘marketable’ to other companies.

On the other hand, an employee may see the investment that the company makes in their training as an indication of their value to the organization.  Maybe salaries have been frozen and one of the ways that management can say thank-you to a productive employee is to send them to a training event to learn additional skills.  Everyone likes to feel appreciated and when someone invests time or money in you, most people will feel that is a benefit received from the organization that shows that management values them.

Of course a company will only invest in an employee in the hope of getting an employee that performs existing tasks better, faster, or more accurately or they can perform new tasks that will ultimately improve the bottom line of the organization.  Even using training, such as attendance at a conference, with no directly measureable return can help the business if it prevents an employee from looking for employment somewhere else where they think they will be appreciated more.  Losing the skills and knowledge of a good employee costs money to replace.  The cost of recruiting new talent can be as much as 20-30% of the employee’s salary.  And if the company has a high turn-over rate, they may need to offer higher salaries to attract new employees who may see that as an indication of problems with the organization.

In the Information Technology business, the one constant is change.  I’ve gone through several paradigm shifts in my career from programming in a version of mainframe BASIC that only allowed at most two characters to define a variable name, to FORTRAN, a little COBOL, Integer BASIC on an Apple II with a whopping 16 K of RAM, ASP and then ASP.NET, dBASE, FoxBase, FoxPro, SQL Server and most recently SharePoint.  In my experience, companies that did not change and adapt fell to their competition.  Employees who did not change and adapt found themselves working in other careers.

No matter how you look at it, training is a necessity whether you manage your own learning goals or your company supports and helps you obtain the training you need to stay current and relevant.  Trained employees can offer their organizations more value.  In exchange, training employees are generally more happy (read as not looking for a job elsewhere) because their job satisfaction is higher when they feel competent to perform the required tasks.

And if your organization does not provide training and you don’t have a lot of spare cash, there are many good books, webcasts and on-line tutorials.  Don’t overlook the value of local user groups.  Finally take the time to attend a local free day of training at a Code Camp, SQL Saturday, or SharePoint Saturday event near you.


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