With Training, Take the Long View – 3rd and Final in the Series

Upside-DownAs I described in my previous post, I’m taking issue with the article: “Who Can Fix the ‘Middle-Skills’ Gap?” by Thomas Kochan, David Finegold and Paul Osterman, which appeared in the December 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review. The authors simply accept at face value the notion that individual employers should not train employees because those employees might leave. I disagree.

In fact, I believe the best way to retain employees is to continually offer them great training. At our annual senior leadership offsite planning retreat, we always have an agenda item around how we ensure job satisfaction for our associates. We believe there are multiple components, including:

  • Stimulating, challenging work
  • Clear expectations
  • Continuous feedback
  • Unparalleled learning
  • Explicit career paths
  • Fair reward and recognition
  • Inclusive culture

I recently did a presentation to the leadership team of a local college on “programs or incentives to increase morale and productivity.” I explained that if the above components aren’t covered, no program or bonus system matters. Focus on the core blocking and tackling of creating satisfied/happy/productive employees!

Similar to training, professional certification makes some employers feel at-risk for losing talent (after their people become certified). There was a local, large firm who stopped incentivizing their employees to be certified because its management believed certification created opportunities for people to leave.

Here, too, I think it is short sighted. We pay for study materials, pay for the exam (pass or fail), and give a spot-bonus of $750 for each technical exam passed (for Microsoft, there are typically four exams in a certification so it’s $3K total). That investment in our people is small in comparison to the benefits we reap: extraordinarily loyal and satisfied employees who do great work! Our employees are happy, our customers are happy and Intertech thrives. It may sound simplistic, but it’s a formula that works!