There’s an old adage about employee training. “You can either train employees and risk they leave, or choose not to train them and risk they stay.”
The intent of this message is to point out that team members who lack sufficient training can be damaging, and that the potential threat of an untrained employee is especially significant.
But the role of employee training is actually even more significant than implied by this expression. Untrained employees may damage equipment, destroy customer relationships, or create unexpected legal exposures and liabilities. There’s so much that can go wrong with people who aren’t sufficiently trained. But instead of focusing on the dangers to your business, let’s focus on the employees themselves. What happens if we don’t support employees by making sure they have the training and resources needed to excel?
Untrained employees are easily distracted. If you don’t know how to get your work done, you’re likely just not to do it. Distracted employees are less productive.
Untrained employees are less engaged. Why care about being devoted to your job if your employer isn’t devoted to you? This means work quality will suffer, and employees won’t have a reason to innovate.
Untrained employees are inefficient. If you don’t really know the best way, the way you do know is probably slower.
Untrained employees negatively impact morale. Even if just one person in a group doesn’t have the training to do their job well, they may complain to others about the lack of support.
So you know what happens if you don’t provide sufficient employee training. So why should you do more than the minimum? Why should you train your employees so well they are attractive to your competitors?
Highly trained employees become brand champions. If someone has all the training they could want, they will become an advocate to others. They will coach fellow team members. And they will act as an ambassador for your company in the community.
Highly trained employees make your company attractive. They will tell their friends about your company, and you’ll get better applicants. And best of all, these candidates will be interested in personal growth and development through self-selection.
Highly trained employees will make your competitors spend more money. Training is like knowledge: having it is not nearly as expensive as not having it. If your employees are highly trained then your competitors will either have to hire more people to keep up with your productivity, spend more money on more skilled hires, or invest in a training program of their own.
Highly trained employees will have increased loyalty. It’s harder to leave a company that’s taken care of you. So even though your competitors may want to hire them, it will be that much harder.
In summary, you should support employee training. But you already knew that. The only question is whether it’s possible to have too much employee training. For most organizations, this question is entirely theoretical.
The problem is never that there’s too much training available. The problem is always that we don’t have enough.