Can training stop people from quitting?

Carter and Reagan were battling it out for the U.S. presidency when I first heard someone say, “I’m quitting. No one really cares about me here.” When you lose a key person it will take their entire annual salary in time, fees, morale and opportunity costs to replace them. Before giving my opinion on the optimal method of training delivery, let’s explore three types of training that will slow unwanted resignations.

Rick Griggs

The best way to keep your people is to train your people. This means giving them skills, a better future and a lifestyle that matters. Start slow and build consistent, manager-attended programs. It is impossible to maximize retention without offering three types of training:

  • Skills Training—the work.
  • Career Training—the profession.
  • Life Training—the meaning of it all.

Skills training — These are the required skills an employee needs to do today’s work. Human resource professionals will scream if I don’t add “development” as in current skills and future development. I find the next two categories add the needed precision to the discussion.

Career training — These skills will take the individual further in their profession and broaden career stability. Yes, the organization also benefits when an employee gives better speeches, learns best management practices and becomes an expert at dealing with people. You might say that career training splits the benefits between the employer and the upwardly mobile employee.

Life training — These are the skills and aptitudes not normally associated with a specific job or profession. Life training skills offer better ways to balance life and create a lifestyle worth living. These learnings help professionals with their own life meaning and in understanding customer attitudes, coworker aspirations and general human motivation.

My opinions were formed as training manager at Intel Corp. headquarters. Our department provided skills training for fab operators, career training for managers and programs to support engineers with life skills to broaden their traditional scientific backgrounds. We learned to generously reward attendance and, when possible, include managers and supervisors in some part of program delivery.

There is an escalating cascade of benefits showered upon companies that “stack” these three categories of human development. Few people quit when they’re trained to a) do their current job, b) polish a blossoming career, and c) merge life’s wisdom and realities into their humanity. When critical employees experience these three benefits from your organization they mentally calculate a 10-to-20 thousand dollar addition to their annual salary.

Here are real scenarios where people got fed up and quit. I watched newly hired animal hospital employees pulled from basic training to cover in other understaffed departments only to be harshly criticized later for not knowing the essentials of their jobs. In another case we hastily revised the course agenda when a manager at the highest of high technology firms left the room to attend a last minute Realtor open house.  More recently, my cognitive dissonance bubbled when an administrator pulled two budding prospects from a leadership academy to polish minor details of their Malcolm Baldrige quality award application. Employees interpret the importance of learning in direct proportion to the example set by their managers.

It’s no surprise that a world-wide pandemic would lead to resignations on a massive scale, yet this has been happening in large and small enterprises for decades. Factor in chronic time pressure, feelings of insignificance and a crumbling lifestyle and all a great contributor needs is a little nudge to say “goodbye.” Who wouldn’t quit when the only serious educational effort is sales training — in person, full day, often in another city. Subtle priorities become flashing neon signs. 

In organizations that prosper, I predict the demise of the half-hour training video, the un-facilitated brainstorming focus group and the half-day annual planning retreat — all are truncated insults to the motivated professional. 

Yes, training can stop people from quitting. The best delivery method is live, full-day sessions with superior facilitation and real, engaged people — anything less, cut the check to the recruiters. 

Rick Griggs is a former Intel Corp. training manager and inventor of the rolestorming creativity tool. He runs the 10-month Leadership Mastery Academy. rick.griggs83@gmail.com or 970-690-7327.