Smart managers learn the true value of staff training

Training isn’t the first benefit that springs to mind when compiling a list of perks that are offered to staff. But employers are missing a trick if they fail to communicate the value of structured employee development as part of the total reward package, says Amanda Wilkinson, editor of Employee Benefits.

You only have to sit in on a couple of job interviews to realise that people value training – whether it is conducted in-house or through courses held externally.

The interest is at all levels. Obviously, questions on training from graduates, second-time jobbers and young professionals are par for the course. But senior executives often value courses to help them with time and lifestyle management as well as hard-core business issues at institutions such as Cranfield School of Management.

Sceptical bosses may begrudge having to fork out for formal training courses, which cost hundreds of pounds per head, due to their belief that employees will use their new skills to get a better job elsewhere.

But they should take note of the results of a government-commissioned review of skills conducted by Lord Leitch. In his report, Prosperity for the global economy: world class skills, published at the end of last year, Leitch argues that UK businesses need to invest in training and development for their staff in order to continue to compete with emerging economies such as India and China.

The report predicts that, even if current targets are met, by 2020 the UK’s skills base will be inferior to that of many other developed nations. To rectify this, Leitch makes various proposals, including increased employer investment in higher qualifications and the launch of a ‘pledge’ for employers to train more employees at work. If insufficient progress is made by 2010, it suggests employees should be given a statutory right to access workplace training.

It is also worth remembering that training is a great motivator. What better way to give a member of staff a boost than by selecting them to go on a course to learn exciting, new skills.

Training also instills some degree of engagement and, with that, loyalty. The employer demonstrates it is interested in the employee’s development and, in return, the employee is more likely to be interested in their business. If staff are treated well and nurtured they will remember it, even if they do end up leaving the organisation to go elsewhere for more cash. And if the training they have been given is valued it is likely that their previous employer’s efforts will be made clear to new colleagues who may be looking to change jobs. It may even influence a decision to return to that previous employer.

So it is worth doing the sums and putting a value on training, then communicating this to staff through total reward statements.

This may mean liaising with other colleagues who oversee training to find out details of the courses, their cost and identities of staff who attend. But it is all part of boosting the total reward package.

Amanda Wilkinson, Editor