It's an age old question that managers in all sectors have been dealing with for decades: how much time, exactly, should be spent training new employees? On the one hand, a skilled workforce means higher productivity and better performance overall, but on the other, training can be costly and takes up valuable time that could be spent in other areas of the business.
According to CNN Money, this decision is expected to become even harder in the coming months and years, as a younger generation takes up a larger share of the overall workforce. Many of these workers have high expectations for close, one-on-one training in their first jobs, with one recent survey finding that 77 percent of 2013 graduates say they expect to receive direct formal training at their first professional job.
However, this was a strong mismatch between the 48 percent of 2011 and 2012 graduates who said they actually received training once they were signed onto a company.
"There's a disconnect between employers' expectations of grads entering with relevant skills and the reality," said Katherine LaVelle, a managing director in Accenture's talent and organization practice, adding that there are several factors that compound this problem. "Given economic constraints, lots of employers have looked to cut back," with training one of the easiest parts of a budget to cut.
Focusing on the Long-term
However, there are a number of companies that are seeing the benefits of taking the time to train workers. According to the media outlet, when employers focus on building up the skills of new recruits, the investment can pay off in the long-term. What's more, employees who are confident in their skills and performance at work "don't quit as quickly," LaVelle said, further supporting the case for taking the time to train workers.
But what about the time, energy and costs that go into training? Seeing the benefits of a skilled workforce, many companies are turning to new labor solutions that focus heavily on training and reducing employee turnover. Some experts have likened such training programs to sports. To become a professional athlete, it takes slowly building up reps, weight, and frequency. Once the muscle and coordination is there, an athlete (worker) is ready for the big game (a first job.)
Ideally, companies can strike a balance and offer comprehensive training that doesn't cut too deeply into time spent at the company. Also, younger workers are much more likely to switch jobs earlier in their career, so it's essential to keep them engaged and interested in the company, the news source stated.
"[T]here is a fine line between what is effective training and what is overkill," LaVelle added.
Whether the training is done in-house or by an outside firm, a recent survey suggests the latest batch of college graduates may need it more than previous classes. According to the Kansas City Star, a new study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that nearly half of all employers surveyed said they fear the latest graduating class lacks the necessary communication skills they need to get hired, while 18 percent said most candidates don't have the necessary math and computer skills.
Recent grads' overall job readiness, as the survey put it, appears to be lacking, too, with only 53 percent of respondents saying they plan to bring on 2013 graduates. Many respondents said they worry about a lack of "professionalism" and "work ethic" in the generation, and about 20 percent of respondents said they think applicants are "underqualified" for most open positions.
To ensure new workers get the necessary training, many companies are turning to new labor solutions that focus on employee retention, performance and productivity.