Late August is the time when books are unpacked, school buses roll once again, and the long days of summer become memories. It is back-to-school time.
While most of us think that going back to school is reserved for the younger set, employers should also be thinking about “schooling” their workers—that is, providing training to help them update and expand their skills. If you haven’t invested in employee training for a while, it might be time to start if you want to retain those workers.
This back-to-school season comes at a time when most employers are again feeling the labor pinch. Two years ago, the unemployment rate hovered just below 5%. Although Covid-19 created a spike in unemployment last year, that’s all behind us, and employers are once again facing a worker shortage.
A big part of the problem is turnover. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, monthly job turnover in transportation and warehousing has been averaging around 4%. Yet about 6% of jobs in those areas need to be filled each month, meaning there are more job openings than workers to fill them. Workers will flee to greener pastures if another employer dangles the prospect of greater job satisfaction, higher pay, more advancement opportunities, or simply better working conditions.
Training can help in that regard. Good workers tend to seek out jobs that offer a challenge and a change in routine. We spend one-third of our average day at work (much more for many of us), and no one wants to spend that time just turning a widget. Good workers also want opportunities for advancement. By providing training, employers can offer them more job variety and a chance to advance their careers, driving up retention rates in the process.
Training also allows for more flexibility in operations. For instance, an associate might be picking items at a goods-to-person station one day and driving a forklift the next. As technology advances in our facilities, we need people who have a variety of skills, and that opportunity to work with new technologies can be enticing to young workers as well.
Training should not be limited to front-line workers, however. It should also be offered to managers and supervisors. In times of high turnover, managers must be trained in the interpersonal skills needed to engage with team members. Most of us have probably worked for bad bosses who did not understand our needs or had unrealistic expectations. Bad bosses are a leading cause of turnover in companies.
Statistics have shown many times over that it is much cheaper to train and retain a loyal employee than to recruit and train a new one. The time is right to invest in your people.