The value of in-house training

Thomas Zucker-ScharffSenior Data Analyst
Veteran in computer systems, malware removal and ransomware topics.  I have been working in the field since 1985.
Edited by: Andrew Leniart
Besides the obvious of value of keeping staff up to date and happy, the added value is one that is not as obvious.

What got me started

Recently, I signed up for a participated in a Lean Six Sigma - White Belt course given in-house and taught by a Master Black Belt from Not only was the course interesting, some of the people - who all work in the same small institution as I do - I had never met before and am glad I had a chance to interact with them. This got me thinking about in-house training and how each segment of the business is affected by it.  

If there is one thing a Lean Six Sigma course will show you, it is that the more people work together, both to understand and streamline a process, the better whatever they do will turn out. This was definitely true of this course.  

What we should all learn

This was so valuable a lesson that I felt I should share it. So what about the very real question of whether in-house training is monetarily worth it. There are many reasons on both sides of why training one's employees may or may not be a good idea. To me, this always brings to mind the quote, "Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to," by Sir Richard Branson 

What I think the quote means:

It seems fairly straightforward to me, offer enough paid training, along with the time to take advantage of said training, so that people will be qualified enough so that they can easily leave. At the same time, treat those same people in the way you would want to be treated so not only will they not want to leave, but you will end up with a better-trained workforce.

I suppose that quote is the essence of most of the pros and cons.

  •  Training keeps employees skills up to date
    • increasing productivity
    • making the company look good
    • increasing your Return on Investment
    • Making it more likely that your employees will not be lured away from you

  • Training an employee costs less than onboarding a new employee
    • New employees will not have the institutional knowledge that a well trained current employee would have
    • Advertising, interviewing, subsidizing costs for work permits, costs for new employee training, costs for mandatory in-house training (think discrimination training), Loss of time while new employee gets up to speed, all add up to more than it would cost to give a current employee a raise

  • Providing training establishes goodwill between the employer and the employee.

Many times I have seen employees go out and pay for their own training and certifications in the expectation that this will make a difference in their current work environment (raise, bonus, etc). Too often, not only do they spend their own money and get no real compensation from the workplace, but the employee then becomes even less likely to stay in a place where they are apparently not appreciated.

This seems to be especially true when it comes to technical certifications. Human resource professionals and those that are posting jobs, often ask for certain certifications, but do not think to either train their current employees along the same lines or compensate employees who gain such certifications.

Whether to train or not should be a non-question. Once you have decided on how to go about bringing in-house training to your business, you may ask yourself what the return on investment (ROI) will be for such an endeavor. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, this is rather hard to determine. I believe the "hidden" ROI of in-house training is the associations that people form between one another during such events. This speaks directly to institutional knowledge. When someone in your division makes contact with someone outside your division, that new contact may become the go-to person the next time you need help from the other division/department. This contact alone may save dozens of work hours of trying to go through proper channels or trying to figure out with whom exactly you should be speaking.

I have yet to join a company and have someone present me with a list which delineates who to really call for what, when you really want something done. There is generally a list of who is responsible for which task, but the names on the list are not generally the person who actually does the work. That hidden ROI, the institutional knowledge, is extremely valuable.  

The Take-Away

While writing this article, I realized that some of my best contacts were cemented during external training sessions. When I took my last certification course, I met several people with whom I am still in touch. Some people I speak to at least once a week, others maybe once a month, while still others I rarely speak directly to, but do often see on LinkedIn, and who have helped me along in my career just by being a connection on LinkedIn.'

I guess I see training as less acquiring a new skill and more acquiring new acquaintances.

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Thomas Zucker-ScharffSenior Data Analyst
Veteran in computer systems, malware removal and ransomware topics.  I have been working in the field since 1985.

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