Whether your company does or does not offer formal training, your employees are being trained on how to do their jobs one way or the other. The obvious problem with this is that they might not be learning to do their work the way you want it done.
“Training is taking place in every organization—even in those that never offer formal training programs of any kind,” says Evan Hackel, CEO of Tortal Training, businessperson, author, and professional speaker. He says organizations are “paying” for ineffective training in several ways.
First, “employees train themselves by ‘trial and error’—and all those errors cost time and money,” Hackel says. “Part of the problem is, employees don’t want to raise their hands and say, ‘I don’t know’ how to do something.” So, they try to do it on their own, sometimes learning the wrong way.
Second, “current employees and managers tell new employees how to do their jobs, but they teach skills that are inefficient, outmoded, undesirable, or worse,” Hackel explains. “Ongoing training is really critical. People become rusty. That’s just a reality.” If you do not take the time to train current employees on an ongoing basis and to train new hires, you run the risk of long-time employees continuing to use those “older and outdated processes” and new hires learning and replicating them.
Hackel also says it is a mistake to assume that new hires with previous experience do not need training. That is because they might have been poorly trained by their last employer, and your policies and procedures might differ.
Third, “employees not properly trained on company computer systems waste time trying to figure out systems, waste supervisors’ time to get help and, worse yet, make entry errors that take a lot of time to reverse. A small investment in training up front would save hundreds of hours of learning by trial and error,” Hackel says.
Fourth, “customer service representatives issue refunds to customers, approve product returns, and make other costly mistakes—simply because no one trained them to better educate the customer on their purchase or find alternative products that would better service the customer. Processing returns is simply easier,” he adds.
“All those inefficient forms of training cost a lot more than formal training does, due to inefficiency, mistakes, wasted time, and the need to redo or correct mistakes,” Hackel says, adding that inefficiency of operations, extra overtime, additional unnecessary staff, longer processes, the risk of losing customers, and the need to expedite shipping all are cost factors to consider.
Hackel recommends evaluating work flows and methodologies and determining what new hires and existing employees need to know, documenting the best model to help them learn it, and building training on that. “Part of the issue with training isn’t you just train; you’ve got to know what to train on.”
Despite the tendency for companies to view training as an easy target when it comes to budget cuts, Hackel says, “Training is probably one of the highest returns on investment that a company can make.”