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How to Eliminate the Cost of Training

How to Eliminate the Cost of Training

Training of employees is an essential investment, not merely a cost.

From a certain perspective, it’s becoming ridiculous. It seems more and more training is required. Training isn’t free; in addition to funding the training itself, you’ve got to pay employees to take the training.

It’s not just advanced training anymore, either. In many cases, employers are finding they must provide remedial training in mathematics and other fundamental subjects. And how do you train people to set down their smartphones and pay attention to what they are doing?

Photo credit: Lisa F. Young/iStock/Thinkstock

As if this weren't bad enough, the 2015 edition of NFPA 70E clearly demands that employees be able to demonstrate their qualifications to perform specific tasks. It used to be possible to escape liability by providing a dog-and-pony-show “training” session and requiring attendees to sign off. You can’t do that anymore. Now you’re expected to lay out for actual training and verify that employees understand and can apply what they learned.

Suppose you make a list of all the training needed to ensure your employees work efficiently and safely. Then suppose you cost out each item on the list and total things up. How much does that training cost you? Is it a surprisingly large sum? What if you could eliminate that cost? Would such an outcome change your profitability? That depends on how you define cost.

If you define cost as an expense that reduces the bottom line, then eliminating the cost of training will change your profitability. But in which direction?

If you merely eliminate training to achieve this, your profits will take large steps toward zero until your liabilities exceed your assets and cash flow, and you’ll go out of business (probably with several lawsuits pending). That’s not the way to eliminate the cost of training.

If you change your mindset to view outlays for training as an investment rather than a cost, the way you handle training will improve dramatically. This isn’t mere semantics. It really does change behavior and outcomes when training is taken out of the cost basket and put into the investment basket.

Your business is much better off if you think of training as an investment, just like any other investment you make. With costs, we just incur them and move on. With investments, we think them through and take steps to ensure they provide the desired results (and cash flows back).

How do you assign dollar figures to all this training so you can calculate the cash flows and thus determine the actual return on the investment?

The good news is you don’t need to do the training first and the calculations later when you have the data. You can do the calculations the same way you’d calculate the profitability on a project you’re bidding; create an estimate, using standard estimating procedures. In some cases, you can tie training directly to specific revenue.

And this is how you can successfully eliminate the “cost” of training. You will probably lay out more for training than you do now, but if done right, that means a fatter bottom line.

TAGS: Training
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