Training employees and establishing programs to support that goal is as important as ever for keeping your organization competitive, and there have never been more ways to help you implement them. In article for Forbes, Josh Bersin, analyst of corporate HR, talent management and leadership, wrote, "On a business level, our employment brand and ability to attract and engage people is now directly related to learning ... For millennials, who are now becoming the core part of the workforce, learning opportunities are the No. 1 factor in selecting a job ... coach your people; spend money on quality onboarding and career development; reward people for helping others in their jobs; create a great self-directed learning experience at work."
Spending on the Rise
In their 2014 State of the Industry Report, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) found that organizations in 2013 spent an average of $1,208 per employee on learning. Large organizations typically spend less on employee learning than midsized organizations do. Organizations surveyed also "continue to spend almost two-thirds of their direct learning expenditure on internal services," such as the learning department staff salaries and administrative costs, per the ATD report cited above.
While you will need to communicate frequently with HR leadership to determine the internal investment that will be necessary to truly support your staff, there are a couple ways to save money right from the get-go.
You can, for example, match new employees with more experienced staff in mentoring programs. There are number of things you will need to do to make sure your mentoring program is a success:
- Define the goal of your mentoring program (for instance, better retention of employees in a certain demographic group).
- Shape the curriculum after brainstorming the characteristics that give an employee the best chance to succeed in your organization.
- Set the program to your culture (a formal application process, for example, or informal lunchtime round tables).
- Assign mentors (mentee/mentor ratios may necessitate assigning two or more mentees to one mentor).
Many states offer assistance and tax breaks for training. For example, if you maintain a business presence in Georgia you may qualify for the Georgia Retraining Tax Credit, which allows qualified employers to receive up to $1,250 per Georgia eligible employee every year. New York has a similar program, and many states offer credits to employers with apprenticeship programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Federally, Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code allows employers to exclude from employees' gross wages up to $5,250 per year for payment or reimbursement of tuition, and expenses such as fees, books, certain supplies and equipment, as part of a qualified "educational assistance program."
Your return on investment for training employees can take months or even years to be fully realized — but you can begin calculating the ROI almost immediately. For example, your initial costs may include such items as facilitator fees, course materials, the production downtime while your employee is off the job, and such administration functions as registration procedures or confirmation notices.
Against that you should balance the potential savings, such as fewer on-the-job errors, reduced employee (or customer) turnover and reduced recruitment costs because training can create more job-ready candidates for promotions. You can calculate potential savings against goals you set for post-training achievements.
For example, by quantifying the number of errors a given department makes in a month and assigning a dollar figure to the total number of errors — perhaps the monetary cost of the time to correct the problem, based on a worker's hourly salary — allows you to set a goal of a lower number of mistakes post-training. If you hit this number, you can figure out how much money you save. Balance the savings against the cost of the training.
Your details will vary, of course, but this helps ensure that your training expectations are targeted to measurable business outcomes.
Training your employees costs your organization time, effort and money. But increasingly, organizations understand that the investment will more than pay for itself in the long term — and may also be an indispensable component of your ability to attract and retain the best talent.
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