Why Software Training Is a Priority
Many factors keep leading companies at the top of their game. But consider this little-known fact: top companies spend twice as much on training than their competitors.
These organizations have insight that others don't. A study from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), titled Profiting from Learning: Do Firms' Investments in Education and Training Pay Off?, reveals that training directly improves business.
Companies that spent more on training per employee had a 45% higher total shareholder return (TSR) than the weighted average of the S&P 500, and an astonishing 86% higher TSR than firms in the bottom half of the ranking.
With the rapid pace of technological change in the print and advertising industries, software training is more important than ever. We all experience growing demands: competition is tougher, turnaround times and budgets are shrinking, design standards are evolving, new media is emerging, and software required to do the job is more complex.
Organizations and individuals today must work smarter than ever before to remain in the game. Still, companies of all sizes are barraged by day-to-day deadlines, budget cuts, and other issues that need immediate attention, which works to move training to the back burner.
Companies that don't invest in its human capital miss the point of training. Caught up in hot issues of the day, organizations often ignore the long-term benefits of training employees now.
Often executives say their biggest objections to training are time, money and risk. Valid in the short term, these concerns take a back seat when considering the long-term impact a lack of training has on the corporation.
Let's look at these common objections one by one, and we'll see the benefits easily outweigh the drawbacks. First, training requires time, causing managers to push aside day-to-day challenges to work toward the future, and realizing that investment will get them ahead.
World-class corporations provide an average of 80 hours of training annually to IT staff members. That's two times that of other organizations. These companies also invest another 40 hours of mentoring and individual coaching to refine current skills, say analysts at the Meta Group.
Offering more resources, including training, to the best performers results in increased productivity and institutional value, these analysts say. By allocating time today, these organizations gain high returns running their business more efficiently tomorrow.
Video-based training addresses the time concerns of managers and lets employees train at their own pace. They get to the subject's core, and can refer back when necessary.
Video training also ensures a consistent experience for all employees. And it doesn't have to happen on a TV. Video training is effective via a CD-ROM, DVD, or over the Web.
Indeed, companies are leveraging video training in many ways, according to a study conducted by the Accenture consulting organization. The study found 67% of respondents surveyed said their companies offered some training and development services via the Web.
Half said "just-in-time" (no predetermined intervals) training was available to them, and 42% said their companies offer "extensive" opportunities for online training. Even Adobe Systems uses video training to cross-train its customer support team and keep them up to speed on new products and enhancements.
Then there's risk that employees will use the company's investment in training to get new jobs, but this is rarely the case. Analysts say training can be a strategy for improving employee retention and boosting loyalty.
Meta Group's research found average turnover among IT staffs dropped from 15% to 11% from 1999 to 2000, due to the meltdown by dot-com companies and an increase in training programs. Accenture consultants report that training boosts morale and encourages longevity of an employee's tenure.
In a time when budgets remain tight, training can be used as an incentive in place of, or alongside, monetary advancement.
Speaking of money, while training requires a financial outlay, it doesn't have to be expensive, and the payback is often many times over. Organizations that view training as an investment for improving specific skills, as opposed to considering it a cost center, generally experience the biggest returns.
With an array of training formats available, many training programs can be instituted relatively inexpensively. For example, Michael Kennedy, the owner of Alpha Graphics in Rancho Cordova, Calif., attributes his store's higher revenue—four to six times that of his other stores—to employees' use of video-based training from Total Training.
Now more than ever, with companies emphasizing human resources and educational advancement, the divide between those who train and those who don't will grow. The time to make the most of your work force is now.
- John Bell
John Bell is president and CEO of Total Training, a developer of video training courseware emphasizing Adobe Systems' products. He can be reached at John@TotalTraining.com.