The benefits of training greatly outweigh employee training costs, provided employees perceive the value of career growth and development.

The benefits of training greatly outweigh employee training costs, provided employees perceive the value of career growth and development. The ADP Research Institute report, "Fixing the Talent Management Disconnect," reveals that 60 percent of U.S. employees at midsized companies are looking for growth in their current companies. However, a mere 15 percent of the same employees say they have defined development goals and only 44 percent have received a performance review.

Employees Want to Advance

The report concludes that while "Companies don't believe they will see a high return on investment in training ... employees want to advance and training may be the key."

It's not that training doesn't exist. The Association for Talent Development estimates that in 2014 employees participated in 32 hours of programs in 2014 at an average annual cost of $1,229 per employee. One main problem appears to be that the training is not associated with a stronger career path with more opportunity.

For training to make a difference, employees should perceive a connection between the training they receive and the opportunity it provides. Training that is rote or generic is less likely to create engagement or help retention.

Training Can Help, But Only If It Really Opens Doors

A recent Employee Benefit News article cites Julie Winkle Giulioni of instructional design firm DesignArounds, "It isn't an annual exercise of checking boxes, but an ongoing exercise of checking in with employees," Giulioni said. "It's like brushing your teeth — you don't do it once or twice a year; you have to do it daily."

The 2016 LinkedIn Global Job Seeker Trends report notes that 45 percent of employees cited concern for career advancement as one of the top reasons they left their old jobs. 32 percent cited dissatisfaction with the rewards or recognition for their contributions. While almost 60 percent said they joined their new job for a stronger career path with more opportunity.

Given these findings, the employee training costs associated with providing effective development training are small relative to the hidden losses financial leaders may be facing tied to employee engagement and retention.

Warning Signs of Weak, Disconnected Employee Development

Here are some warning signs that a lack of investment in career development may be hurting your business:

  • You are unable to point to a roster of people presenting at conferences or reporting out on their experience as a conference attendee.
  • You cannot point to a list of "champions," examples of multiple people who have been effectively promoted to positions of more responsibility within your organization.
  • You are not tracking the ratio of outside hires to internal promotions.
  • Large numbers of employees are screened out of their application for other internal positions, or very few employees are applying for internal positions.
  • Employees and managers view performance management processes and development plans as "check the box" activities.
  • You do not offer, or your employees are not using, tuition reimbursement.
  • The vast majority of your training content is on recurring compliance training associated with legal and HR requirements.
  • You rarely bring in outside people to speak at all-hands meetings: customers, clients, thought leaders or other notables.

If one or more of these items are true, it may be time to re-evaluate your investment in training and development to provide an energizing but realistic outlook for employees who want new challenges and new responsibilities in their roles.

Tags: Learning and Development Research & Insights Workforce Planning Small Business HR Multinational Articles People Management and Growth Midsize Business Employee Engagement and Productivity Large Business