Short-term pain for long-term gain

There are many occasions when you need to accept short-term pain if you want long-term gain. One of the most clear-cut of these surely relates to training.

From a business leader’s perspective, focused on the short term, time spent on training is not productive. I run a business that operates in design, manufacturing and assembly. Having someone spend time on an external training course is bad enough – we lose 10% of our workforce to apprenticeships one day a week during term time. But on-the-job training often means that two people – the trainee and the trainer – aren’t being productive. We still have to pay their wages and salaries. We even pay bonuses for training people.

Training is expensive. But it’s an investment.

If we don’t train our people, there are unwelcome consequences.

Our personnel aren’t as competent as we would wish. The consequences of this tend to emerge over time – someone leaves, or is taken ill, and you realise that a particular skill-set went when they left. This represents a single point of failure – because you failed to train anyone else in those skills.

Training can reduce the likelihood of such situations arising but, in my view, the motivational aspects are even more important. The company is seen to invest in the long-term future of its trainees. That motivates the trainees as they acquire skills we need for the future. This has a knock-on effect: 10% of my workforce are being trained and developed externally, so they feel motivated, and their motivation rubs off on others.

And there’s another effect. When experienced, senior members of the team (a.k.a. the grumpy old men!) get involved in training junior members, they may grump and moan about doing it, but when their trainees achieve things that please them, they take great pride in the accomplishment.

When we take someone on, they’re paid a salary and, of course, there are all the ancillary costs too. If you look at those costs over a five-year period, you’re going to be spending well over £100k. What’s a sensible percentage of this to spend on training?  You’ll be surprised how little training actually costs when you take a longer-term view.