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Take Time for Training By James Hoeft

Late this winter, Congress passed comprehensive tax reform. Are you aware of all the changes that affect you? Is your staff? At the local and state level, legislators get together and regularly debate and change employment law. Are you up to speed on those changes? Just about every month, Facebook is making some sort of tweak to its advertising rules. Do you know what to avoid to prevent having your ads pulled? What about what keeps you from getting black-balled as an email spammer on MailChimp?

Let’s face it, the only constant is change. It’s cliché because it’s true. And how do you keep up with all the changes? Training.

Do a Google search for “the importance of training” and you will see that this is hardly an original idea. And, for that matter, employers spend billions on the practice.

Train for Profitability

We’re all aware of the skills gap, but, even worse, if you’re not training, you’re losing money.

The American Society for Talent Development (ASTD) reports that companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. Additionally, these companies have a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.

Additionally, while intuitive, the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce (EQW) has found that training does increase productivity. They found that when increasing both education and equipment by 10% there was a productivity gain of 8.6% for education vs. only a 3.4% increase for upgraded equipment

 

The Law

From an employers perspective, it’s worth noting that there are rules governing what is considered paid training. In the Fair Labor and Standards Act, Code 785.29 addresses this matter.

“The training is directly related to the employee’s job if it is designed to make the employee handle his job more effectively as distinguished from training him for another job, or to a new or additional skill. For example, a stenographer who is given a course in stenography is engaged in an activity to make her a better stenographer. Time spent in such a course given by the employer or under his auspices is hours worked.”

However, there is some training that an employer is not obligated to pay for, but it could still be beneficial for the company if the employee participates (such as a voluntary degree program). This could be a benefit that an employer offers that makes the job attractive to top talent.

Hire for Learnability

All this said, don’t think that throwing money at training is going to result in instant gains and productivity either. Investing it in the right place with the right person is important too – so hire beyond just a given set of skills. More and more, it is becoming important to hire for intellectual curiosity and “learnability.”

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessments, writes in Harvard Business Review:

“Don’t waste training budgets on employees who haven’t demonstrated learnability, even if those employees are otherwise skilled, collaborative, and productive. To maximize the benefit of limited training investments, focus on employees with higher learnability: curious and inquisitive individuals who are genuinely interested in acquiring new knowledge.”

Ultimately, it is the individual who does have to learn and commit to their own professional growth.

“It’s important to spend some time each day on your career,” notes Karen Connor, COATS VP for Business Development. “Developing good habits and goals that are relevant to your career will pay big dividends to your company, but more importantly, it’s an investment in yourself.”

The reality is that training is important and it needs to be a priority in the workplace. And effective and useful training is not difficult to find. But making the commitment to devote time and resources towards training can be. Make the commitment.

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