To get the best, grow the best and keep the best employees in today’s global economy, employers must invest in their best. Of course, investing in your employees can mean practically anything, from compensation to luncheons; but let’s take a look at what making an investment means in the context of training & development.
Top Employers, Top Talent
There is no better place to start than with the best- the best 99 employers in Northeast Ohio that is. Last year’s NorthCoast99 winners report that in 2012, they provided an average of 47 hours of training to their employees on the whole and 69 hours of training to their top performers. These training hours account for an average annual expenditure of $1,494 per employee and $2,339 per top performer.
As it turns out these employers aren’t just throwing money around - their top performing employees are asking for these opportunities, with “career development”, “leadership” and “advancement” all tied for sixth out of the 19 “most important” attributes in a job. These attributes were ranked even higher for younger top performers in the 18-30 year old age bracket, making training & development an even more critical tool as you look to formulate and engage your organization’s future leadership team.
However, as ERC’s 2012 Talent Management Practices Survey demonstrates, strengthening the tie between top talent and training & development expands far beyond NorthCoast99 winners. Specifically, when asked about the strategies utilized to retain top talent at their organizations, of the 102 participants, 57% indicated that providing training & development opportunities was part of their retention plan.
A Tool for All Industries
Interestingly, unlike some of the other more compensation focused retention strategies, which tended to be more equally distributed between industry breakouts, training & development was cited more commonly by non-manufacturing and non-profit type organizations than by manufacturers. It is important to note that this difference between industry breakouts is only present when training & development is pitched as a retention strategy and does not suggest that manufacturers are actually offering training & development to their employees any less often than other industries.
In fact, when it comes to providing financial assistance to employees to upgrade their skills, manufacturing organizations were consistently the most likely to report actually funding training & development type programs ranging from job-related skills training, to conferences, to professional society memberships, to formal degree programs.
This suggests that while training & development is no more or less important of a tool across industries, there may be some differences in what different industries are striving to achieve when they make their investments in training & development programs for their workforce.
Thinking Outside the Box
Depending on what goals you are trying to work towards with your employees, investing in training & development can also mean investing time and human capital instead of or in conjunction with financial investments. Mentoring programs are one of the most prominent examples of a no cost development mechanism.
While many organizations think of mentorship programs as an option reserved for interns or new employees only, existing employees can definitely reap the benefits of these programs as well. An added plus is that developing a mentoring relationship actually provides benefits to both the mentee and the mentor. Formalized career development programs are somewhat less common than mentorship programs, but these initiatives are in place at about 20% of organizations that participated in the Talent Management Practices Survey.
Keeping costs down can also be achieved by exploring alternative delivery mechanisms for training & development. One of the most popular alternative options to help keep costs down is web-based training programs. With webinars and e-learning options exploding, online training has nearly doubled in popularity in the past five years, up to 71% according to last year’s ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey. Even small monetary investments like paying for your employees’ membership fees for professional organizations or conference fees can be very effective at pushing employees along a career development path with minimal internal resources.
Ultimately, no matter what combination of the options outlined above your organization is able to invest in or what your budget is, it is clear that the resulting benefits to your employees and workforce on the whole will help you to increase your competitive edge among the top talent pool here in Northeast Ohio.