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Why Investing In Your Employees' Future Makes Good Financial Sense


In the face of COVID-19, the benefits of investing in your employees are even more pronounced than in the past -- companies need innovation and high productivity from their workers now more than ever, and workers need to know that you’ll have their backs well into the future. So, if you’ve got any doubts about whether putting money toward your team makes good financial sense, now is the time to revise your thinking.

In a rapidly changing world, people crave direction and a sense of place

Today’s workers have an almost unlimited number of choices about what to do and where to work. At the same time, the dizzying pace of business change -- especially around technology and artificial intelligence -- has led to enormous speculation about what work will even look like a few years down the road. In the midst of all this, a survey by Deloitte found that people don’t feel bad about the future. They see the writing on the wall and know things are not going to be the same.

But what workers do feel uneasy about is whether they are prepared for what’s coming. They want to know that they can ready themselves not only for the future of work but for the future of work in your organization. They want jobs that are meaningful as well as a broader sense of who they are and what they can do well. The understanding of where a person fits and how they can contribute is, in fact, a core human need.

As a manager, you can help employees get a healthy sense of identity they need while building loyalty by offering a full range of support and training. This of course involves everyday hard skills they’ll need to get tasks done, such as understanding the increasing role that data plays. But it also involves developing soft skills, such as learning how to ask for or get feedback from others or directing people who are under you.

Soft work is what really improves engagement. And engagement is imperative to keeping costs low. If workers don’t feel interested or like they are contributing on the job, then the risk that they will go elsewhere goes up. And replacing those employees gets expensive fast. The cost to replace an employee even in a low-paying job is about 16 percent of the worker’s annual salary. It jumps to 20 percent for mid-range positions and 213 percent for a highly educated executive. 

The cost of building your team’s ability to do soft work and stay captivated is usually far less than handling continued high rates of turnover. You might not be able to support workers every way you or they want, but there needs to be a balance between the expense of training and the cost of doing nothing.

Training For Trust

When you put money into developing your workers, you send the message that you believe they are capable of doing more than what they’re currently doing. The faith you have in your employees helps build their confidence while driving up engagement which often means that they are more willing to work harder for you. They know you’re not just looking out for yourself and the business, and that contributes to long-term loyalty.

But if you don’t invest in your workers, then you may indirectly be telling them that you don’t trust them to do anything else but the work they already have. They may feel that you are not expecting them to stay with you for the long haul -- this may lead them to believe that opportunities are limited for them within the organization. 

Workers who get this negative message will go somewhere else to learn and be appreciated. So you have to fight to be clear that you expect good things and plan to work with your employees into the future. Even if you can’t do official training, passing on what you’ve learned or encouraging others to pass on what they’ve learned through emails, one-on-ones, or weekly meetings is an easy way to be more positive, motivating, and connected.

Maximizing For The Short Term Can Help You Both Now And Later

Realistically, some workers are going to head out the door no matter what you do. Some go just to explore. But if you invest in them while they are with you, then they’ll give you their peak level of productivity and efficiency until they leave. You’ll also impart a great impression, which can attract them back to you later on and may even encourage them to tell their network about your organization’s great learning culture. If they do happen to find their way back, you can often tap the new skills they’ve gained in their time away.

Many companies, especially smaller ones, have to be careful with managing their expenses. Investing in workers can pay off big, however. Keeping your employees’ learning needs at the forefront of your budget will inevitably pay off in the long run.

David Partain is the CMO of FlexShares, a Northern Trust Company


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