Training Costs: Finding the Balance Between Speed and Spending

Training Costs: Finding the Balance Between Speed and Spending

This article was updated on June 13, 2018.

Is faster always better? When it comes to workforce management, the quicker employees can be fully trained and ready for duty, the better for your bottom line, right? For finance leaders, however, there's more to the discussion — what happens to training costs if a big technological expenditure is required to proceed quickly? Is the time saved worth the additional cost? More importantly, does the quality of quick-fire training match that of much lengthier methods?

A Strong Start

As noted by Harvard Business Review, one of the quickest ways to get employees on board and comfortable in their new roles is by getting them off to a good start. More often than not, people are excited and open when they start a new job, so empowering them from the beginning is critical to retain them over the long haul.

1. Teamwork

After basic training and the inevitable paperwork session, give your new hire a mentor in their department who can help answer any questions — including those that new employees might be unsure asking management about.

2. Culture

Part of the reason new staff sign on is that they've heard good things about your corporate culture. Make sure to showcase this culture during the onboarding phase to help reduce awkwardness and get employees up to speed.

3. Preparation

Nothing throws off a new hire like being treated as an outsider. If you don't have a workstation ready, keycard already printed and user access set up, that's exactly how they'll feel. Take time to prepare in advance.

Opting for the solid start method comes with measurable benefits. Employees are more comfortable (and more productive) more quickly, and there's little in the way of extra overhead to worry finance leaders. But is there a way to speed up the process?

The Tech Advantage

It's no surprise that if you're looking for technology-workforce mashups, Amazon is often a solid bet. The Wall Street Journal notes that the online retail giant now skips standard classroom training for warehouse workers and instead puts them on the floor their first day for hands-on training. Thanks to investments in tech such as touch screens and robots, many warehouse staff are up to speed in just two days compared to the industry-standard six weeks.

The method works because Amazon has made it largely foolproof. Touch screens show workers how they should pack boxes, which sizes they should use and even provide pre-measured and cut packing tape. Mobile robots, meanwhile, deliver shelves worth of products to workers rather than forcing them to wander through warehouse rows looking for specific bar codes.

The results speak for themselves — Amazon now has 149 warehouses worldwide and last year, the organization hired more than 120,000 workers to help handle the 2016 holiday rush. If your organization is not ready for that level of investment off the bat, there are ways to start leveraging existing training technology. For example, you could make in-house training available for later viewing on a learning management system or provide new hires with a laptop or tablet that contains business policy documents along with FAQs about corporate policies, expectations and day-to-day operations.

The right technology can help reduce training time and in turn cut training costs. Finance executives, however, need to weigh the cost of onboarding via traditional methods with the significant spending necessary to adopt new tech to speed up the process. Ultimately, small steps often provide the best result. Embrace new technology in a specific area, observe the results and then calculate money spent versus time saved. So long as the balance is positive, invest in speed and you could reap the rewards.