I recently sat with a group of human resources professionals talking about training. They were sharing their frustrations. Not that training wasn’t effective or it cost too much. But that managers weren’t open to training because they were afraid of developing employees…because those employees might leave.
They called it the “poaching factor”.
Honestly, this defies all logic. There are managers out there who are saying, “We don’t want to train our employees. Because if we train them, they’ll become smart and talented. Then some other company will steal them away from us. So better not to do training.”
Let’s bust this myth once and for all.
If you don’t train your employees, they will leave. Why? Because you’re not training them. Employees want to know that the company values them and will make an investment in their professional development.
If you don’t train your employees, you’re making the strategic decision to develop a crappy workforce. One that will not be able to help your business succeed with increased profits and market share.
Employee training is good for both the employee and the company. And dare I say, if you train an employee and they leave…it’s okay. My guess is they didn’t go to training with the sole purpose of quitting afterward. There could be other issues that contributed to the employee leaving.
Another possibility to consider is that sometimes employees need to leave to expand their knowledge and experience. Then they can return being a stronger contributor.
Companies that are concerned about the “poaching factor” and not training their employees are creating their own self-fulfilling prophecy. When you don’t train your employees, you’re helping the competition succeed.0
Charles Jo says
Both company and employee need to drive this.
Rory C. Trotter Jr says
Great post, Sharlyn.
Unfortunately for organizations, investing resources into training an employee is no guarantee that he or she will stay.
With that said, investing resources only into employees that are “perceived” (keyword perceived) as loyal is a surefire means to lose lots of good people who are otherwise predisposed to your organization.
As you stated above, there are lots of reasons that employees leave their companies – and most of the time those reasons aren’t telegraphed.
Firms should develop people based on potential. Some of them will leave – and that’s okay.
Just the cost of doing business.
Thanks for sharing, and keep writing.
Chek Wee says
This article reminds me of a joke I hear from a fellow HR practitioner:
CFO to CEO: “What if we invest in people and people leave?”
CEO to CFO: “What if we DON’T invest in people and people STAY!”
I even had a comic created base on the above. Following link below if you are interested to view it:
Thanks for your insight. In fact, it was your posts that had inspired me to start my HR blog! Cheers to you for being an inspiration. 🙂
Sharlyn Lauby says
Thanks so much for the comments!
@Charles – Agreed. Employees need to start talking about professional development in the recruiting stage. In the past, I’ve negotiated attendance at association meetings and conferences as part of my hiring package.
@Rory – Like you, I’m seeing many companies only invest training dollars into employees they deem “worth it”. Of course, that means the rest of the workforce is dragging the company down.
@Chek – Love the comic! Thanks for sharing.
I transitioned from the military 14 years ago, with an HR degree, with the intention of getting into corporate training. The Air Force (AF) has an excellent leadership development program called Professional Military Education that spans from first enlistment until retirement. I attended four AF in-residence courses, completed two correspondence courses, one join-service course – Navy, and my career capstone assignment was as an Academic Instructor at the Senior NCO Academy.
That all being said, the only requirement for attendance was selection and a one-year Active Duty Service Commitment. IF you don’t train, and they stay, then you have at best chosen stagnation that will lead to corporate decay.
In two weeks, I’ll be starting a six month leadership & management course at my company. We can’t wait.
Sharlyn Lauby says
@RMS – Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the comment!
Jason Silberman says
It’s about providing employees with a sense of ownership and empowerment. Yes, training empowers employees, and no, not everyone is going to stay in your company forever. But the motivated and engaged employees which benefit from strong training (and I would add the importance of performance support as well) will perform more successfully and energetically.