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For the majority of us, the past 18 months have been life-changing. The COVID-19 pandemic has had — and will continue to have — many seemingly unrelated effects on our society. From supply shortages to restructured work and school environments, our society has had to pivot and innovate in ways that we never would have previously imagined. 

As an unexpected consequence of the pandemic, the U.S. workforce is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of individuals leaving their jobs. The script has flipped — instead of applicants hearing crickets from potential employers, interviewers now complain of being stood up by candidates. To prevent employees from leaving their workplaces in droves, leaders must recognize the importance now more than ever that investing in employee training is the key to increasing their happiness (and therefore retention). 

For many, the first step to happiness in their professional life comes from feeling valued within their organization. Fortunately, this can be developed by setting employees up for success through clear expectations and proper job training. In this blog, we’ll explore employee training as a critical investment for association leaders to help combat the Great Resignation while bolstering employee morale.

What is the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation refers to the vast number of individuals who have left their jobs in 2021 following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 2.9 percent of the entire U.S. workforce, nearly 4.3 million individuals, left their jobs in August 2021. This represents a record-breaking month that occurred after several other record-breaking months in 2021. 

Related: Is the Great Resignation Affecting Associations? Learn More >

There are many theories as to why the Great Resignation is occurring, but one thing is for sure: it’s real, and its effects are evident across virtually all industries. Many point to the working conditions sustained over the past 18 months — remote work, homeschooling and more — that have shaped changes in our decision-making processes and led to individuals re-prioritizing their lives as the threat of COVID-19 recedes. The pandemic left many longing for a life with more flexibility, better financial security and heightened happiness.

Employee Training as an Investment

It’s well-known that hiring a new employee is more expensive than keeping an existing one. In fact, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that the average replacement cost of a salaried employee is between six and nine months’ salary. Some estimates even claim this figure can be much higher, up to twice the employee’s salary. Compared to the average cost of a comprehensive training program, acquiring a new employee can be up to five times higher!

The 2020 Training Industry Report suggested the pandemic has led to declines in the amount organizations are spending on employee training and training payroll expenses. Pre-pandemic, companies averaged $1,286 in training costs per employee, which is down to $1,111 in 2021. While efficient budgeting is critical in these uncertain times, developing a full cost-benefit analysis on employee training expenses virtually always points to the need for proper training to ensure long term success and retention of employees.

So, how can leadership retain existing staff? Investing in employee training. Think about it: if you have to replace an employee, training is already necessary (not to mention the administrative costs, supplies and managerial attention required for new hires). Why not invest that spend into your current staff instead? 

Cost of employee training

Yes, employee training requires a financial investment, and yes, budgets are tight these days. But the data repeatedly points to the value of investing in employee training instead of hiring new ones. These are the financial costs employers should be prepared for in terms of employee training:

  • Training materials and equipment
  • Learning platform (if using a virtual solution)
  • Productivity loss
  • Payment for outside help

On the other hand, the benefits of employee training are:

  • Increased employee satisfaction
  • Increased likelihood of retention
  • Demonstrated value of employees, which can improve morale, job satisfaction and motivation
  • Greater efficiency 
  • Improved productivity
  • Positive reputation for employer branding
  • Enhanced skills of workers organization-wide

It’s easy to identify which is more valuable in the long run. 

How Employee Retention can be Increased Through Training

What the Great Resignation continues to show us about the modern workforce is the desire and increased need for employees to feel valued and happy at work. When employees lack these things, they are more likely to leave and find a better work environment. By investing in personalized training programs for employees, association leaders can ensure their employees are set up for success, increasing employee satisfaction and retention.

Regardless of your association’s circumstances, if you are debating on investing in your current workforce’s training to combat the Great Resignation, the answer is yes! Your investment now will not only save your association on future costs but will provide rich learning experiences throughout your entire organization, strengthening morale and retention rates.

Emily Herrington
Post by Emily Herrington
November 1, 2021
Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.