Training workers can help profits

score Question:
I've spent a considerable amount of money over the last few year providing training for my employees, trying to upgrade their skills. In review of benefits from that additional training, I can't seem to find any. It looks like I've wasted my money. Can you shed any light on the situation with the brief info I've given you?

A few years ago a major corporation decided to find out if its training programs were worth the investment.

So it did two things: It looked at the type of training it offered and examined how useful this training was on the job. It found that the training was good, but it wasn't always being applied in the work place.

And there was a big difference in the results. In particular, the company arrived at three conclusions:

  • In plants where employees took the tools and skills they were learning and applied them on the job, and where those new skills were reinforced by their bosses, the firms were getting a $33 return for every dollar spent in training. That figure includes wages paid to the participants while they were at the training sessions.

  • In plants where participants used the tools and skills used the tools and skills back on the job, but where use of the new tools was not reinforced by the boss, companies broke even on their investments.

  • In plants where the tools and skills were not used and the boss did nothing about it, the training was a colossal waste of money.

Moreover, the company did an analysis of how long the training impact lasted; it concluded that skills and tools taught today are good for two to three years. By this time, the competition had caught up and the company had to give its people more training to stay ahead.

For small businesses, continual training can be quite a challenge because training sometimes can be expensive and almost always requires employees to be away from work for a while.

Fortunately, if you're looking for effective, reasonably priced training, there are many options available.

One is junior colleges; it takes only a phone call to determine how they can help you. and they are all reasonably priced. They have been providing this type of training for many of the local manufacturers in the Rockford area for quite some time.

The University of Illinois, Rockford Center, also has some programs that may also fit your needs.

The colleges are training people every day, and they are good at it.

Or, if you prefer to rely on the services of organizations that specialize in industrial training, call the Chamber of Commerce.

Even nationally known firms can offer competitive prices. A good example is the Zig Zigler Corp. of Carrollton, Texas. The company has been developing "training zigets" - carefully designed packages with videos, audio tapes and booklets.

The goods and services you're selling today are not going to be the same as the ones you'll be marketing in five years. In preparing to compete in this environment, training is going to be more critical. Simply put, better training, properly applied, means more profit.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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