HR Roundtable panel member Michael Haberman discusses how important it is for companies to continue to provide training for their employees during tough economic times:
When times are tough and companies are looking to make budgetary cuts often one of the first things to go is the training budget. However, this could actually cost the company more than it will save. “How so?” you ask. First, it is well known that it is much cheaper to keep a good customer than it is to find a new one. Cutting employee training in such things as customer service could end up driving away a good customer while a well-trained employee may turn that “good” customer into a “loyal” customer, thus retaining a revenue stream for the company.
Another effect of training is that it helps retain good employees. People feel more valued when they realize the company is willing to invest money in their skill sets, despite tough times. Yes, I understand that people with a job are probably going to stay put whether or not they are trained. However, when the recovery starts (and it will, with or without the help of the government) employees who felt valued will be most likely to stay put when opportunities become available. Turnover is expensive and anything you can do to retain good workers will be beneficial. Training will help accomplish that.
One of area of training that is especially important during this downturn is supervisory and managerial training. Many companies, especially small companies, are notoriously bad at providing any training for supervisors and managers in employment law. There are several reasons for providing training despite a bad economy. First, the new administration and Congress are changing the landscape of employment law. Past laws are being amended and new laws are being passed that can have significant effects on companies if they ignore them, e.g., The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Secondly, unions see this new administration and the recession as an opportunity to increase their presence in the workplace. The possibility of the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act holds the specter of easy union organizing and catching companies unprepared to deal with the card check process. A third reason for increased training is that as employees feel threatened or desperate they get fearful and grasp at straws to preserve their jobs or to retaliate for having lost one. They are encouraged to sue by friends, family and TV commercials. Having a well trained set of supervisors and managers will help prevent these lawsuits or at least minimize the damage if one occurs.
So if you are a CEO or company president and you are getting out the budget axe keep in mind that training on all levels needs to be preserved as much as possible, if not increased. You will be more likely to keep customers and employees and you will avoid a minefield of troubles in employment and labor law.