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March 10, 2000
Training Increasingly Seen as Retention Tool
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Life Management Training Increasing as Perk

In today's tight job market, retaining key employees has become a critical issue for American companies. Now employers are seizing on training as one of the most effective retention tools available. Employees who were trained for success and promotion would stick around to succeed and be promoted, the thinking went. So successful has that notion been that today training has been transformed from a boost up the corporate ladder to a full fledged perk for larger number of employees than ever before. And the training being offered has expanded from job related training to cutting-edge life management training.

"The mantra at many companies today is 'train to retain'," said Allen Salikof, president of Management Recruiters International, Inc. (MRI), a search and recruitment organization and a subsidiary of CDI Corp. "Training is starting the day an employee is hired and goes on throughout the employee's life at the company. But what that training entails is changing rapidly. Companies are now training employees to be better people, not just better employees. As retention practices go, it's a dazzling success by all accounts."

Computer Based Training Increasing

Job-related training really took off when technology enabled companies to significantly increase their training capabilities cost and time efficiently. With computer-based training, it became possible to design a program for an employee's individual needs and pace. IT professionals in particular insisted on cutting-edge training, since it's crucial for their career development to be exposed to the latest technological innovations. While the danger always existed that a company would train an employee to simply leave for a better job somewhere else, it was a danger far outweighed by the benefits of a workforce that felt it had something to gain by staying.

Life Management Skills

A change in employer perceptions about the use of training began to emerge a few years ago as recruitment got tougher and tougher for most companies. If the hope of learning something useful was what employees looked for, why not expand the kinds of training offered, some forward looking employers reasoned. The upshot was a huge surge in what was coined "life management skills" training.

"Training is viewed as something valuable, like vacation time, a flex work schedule or company paid childcare," said Allen Salikof. "And companies are rapidly expanding their life management training offerings."

Personal Coaching, Too

Among the most popular life management skills training companies are offering today are financial and retirement planning, stress management, creating work/family balance, and time management. At the very leading edge of this trend, some companies are even offering personal coaching in these areas, usually for higher level executives.

"One of the most common questions job candidates ask about a prospective employer is what kind of on-going training the employer will offer," summed up Salikof. "And the younger the candidate the more important that training track is. If employees are going to make a commitment to an employer today, they want to know what kind of commitment the employer is going to make to them in terms of both career and personal development."

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