If you are thinking of investing in a training program for entry-level employees, all I want to say is, "Do it."
Actually, you probably guessed that's not all I want to say. But it is my key point.
During the course of a fascinating six year study by the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy, researchers clearly demonstrated that investing in your entry level employees can truly be an advantage, both in times of economic growth and recession.
"There are companies around the world that have recognized the value of entry-level employees and are making it an enormous competitive advantage," said Heymann, co-author of the study, which was published in the Harvard Business Review. "There are also companies around the world, the majority, who still haven't figured out how to leverage the advantages you can get from so-called low-skilled workers."
Their findings indicate a cause-and-effect relationship between the welfare of lower-level workers and an organization’s bottom line. Let’s break it down and take a look at the payoff of investing in training and other benefits at the entry level.
The Benefits of Training and Development:
- It’s a win-win: the employees benefit and the organization gets very real advantages, too. One thing I find really interesting about this study is that the researchers ended up changing their own beliefs based on their findings. They went into the study hoping to prove that companies can improve working conditions for lower level employees without compromising profitability. During the study, they realized that the companies they studied had actually increased their profitability as a result of investing in employees at the bottom of the ladder.
- It’s a differentiator for your organization. Many organizations are more than willing to offer high wages, good benefits, and training and career advancement opportunities to their management and leadership talent. But fewer organizations offer those same perks to lower level employees. The Peril of Untrained Entry-Level Employees, an article in Harvard Business Review, notes that "as awareness spreads more quickly of which employers provide good development training, there is a new opportunity for some employers to shine."
- Training and career advancement opportunities lead to lower turnover and easier recruitment. Why do we sometimes hesitate to invest in training programs for entry level workers? Maybe those workers seem readily replaceable, or we fear they won’t stick around long enough for us to see a return on our training investment. Well, the results of this study turn that thinking inside-out.
- Training makes employees more efficient while they are with your organization. Entry level workers are often the people who know first-hand how to increase the efficiency of operations. Ensuring that they have the skills to carry out their work is the first step. Providing the systems and communication skills to empower them to influence change is really where you’ll find true increases in either the quality or the pace of production.
- Your organization’s success depends on the quality of the work of those who carry out the majority of the labor. Because they do the bulk of the essential work, entry level employees contribute disproportionately to the organization’s financial and social performance. Make sure you are providing the skills, tools, and environment for entry level workers to carry out their best possible work.
The research is clear that investing in your entry-level employees is worth the effort. Happy, well-trained workers will be more loyal over time and their inputs can help improve the overall bottom line. The summary report for the study offers some clear steps and lessons to be drawn from the research findings. An easy first step can be providing virtual software training to all new and entry-level employees. To learn more, please check out our eBook on using virtual training methods to meet your needs.