Protecting Your Training Investment
One of the major reason’s companies give for not training their employees is that the employees often leave, taking the newly acquired skill with them and leaving the company with the cost of training. While it’s true that companies who train are fast becoming the employers of choice and are more likely to attract a better class of person, that’s little consolation when your training investment says goodbye and walks out the door.
There are some types of training you simply can’t avoid. For example, if you don’t provide your salespeople with product knowledge training, they’ll take forever to come up to speed. Having just made that observation, please don’t tell me you use the all too popular, “Here’s-the-catalogue-read-it-and-go-sell” approach to product knowledge training.
If your salespeople need information that’s specific to your industry or products, you have little choice but to provide it to them at no charge. Transportable skills are another matter. Transportable skills such as sales training, proposal writing, general technical skills, etc., are all useful to the trainee no matter who he or she works for and I believe the employee should share in the cost.
Workforce mobility is a fact of life in this day and age. So how can a company protect its training investment while still improving the skill levels of its employees? Here are some ideas:
Company Pays 100%
Where it is company policy to pay the full tuition, I strongly suggest that the company and employee have an agreement that, should the employee leave prior to one year following the training, the employee will reimburse the company a pro‑rata portion of the tuition cost. For example: If the employee leaves three months after the training, he or she will owe 75 percent of the tuition fee, at six months 50 percent, at nine months 25 percent, etc.
Company Pays 50%, Employee Pays 50%
I feel that co‑investment is an excellent idea. However, some employees may have difficulty coming up with their share of the tuition. The company can assist the employee by paying the full tuition and then recovering the employee’s portion through payroll deductions. For example: In the case of our ProSell public workshop, the company would pay the full $1,064.65 tuition and then recover $45 a month for 12 months. The employee’s investment is a mere $45 a month or $1.50 a day.
Employee Pays 100%
While this is cost‑effective for the company, many employees simply don’t have the excess money to invest in their training. As noted above, the company can assist the employee by paying the full tuition and then recovering the employee’s portion through payroll deductions. For example: In the case of our ProSell public workshop, the company would pay the full $1,064.65 tuition and then recover $89 a month for 12 months. The employee’s investment becomes a more manageable $89 a month.
Some companies are prepared to convert the employee’s portion (50% or 100%) into a loan that’s forgiven under certain circumstances, such as reaching agreed upon sales targets or staying a certain length of time, etc. Tying the reimbursement to the sales quota often acts as an added incentive to put the training to use and continue to develop their selling skills.
So, what do you do with the salesperson who doesn’t like the idea of either sharing the cost of the training or having to stay with you for a year in order to have the loan forgiven? What you have here is an attitude problem and I’d be concerned even if it was my star performer.
In my experience, even top producers are always looking to improve and are prepared to invest in themselves. Push for the reason behind the hesitation. If you can’t find a reasonable explanation, you’d better keep your eye open for a replacement because you’ll probably be needing one in the near future.
Whatever approach you take, put a dollar value on the training. If your people think they’re getting it for free, they’ll treat it that way.
And by all means train, but protect your training investment.