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Training Boosts Employee Retention

IBM looked at the best and worst performing companies to see if training played a role in performance.

Sketched out brain half black and white, half colorful

More than a decade ago, I read an article in a psychology magazine that stuck with me. The article talked about why time seems to drag when you’re a child but fly by the older you get. As children, summer vacations and birthdays seem so far away, and school feels like it drags on forever. Road trips elicit questions of “Are we there yet?” within minutes. But as adults, it often seems that days and weeks just disappear. Vacation comes and goes quickly. Your New Years’ parties and birthdays are alarmingly close together.

The article explained that one of the theories for these differing experiences of time is that children are constantly learning and engaging with their curiosity, and that intense ingesting of new information slows time. Kids notice every detail down to the cracks in the sidewalk and work hard to understand their math problems. They dream and pretend. Adults, conversely, live a life of daily, weekly and monthly routines that tend to be familiar. We pass the same buildings every day, and the work we do is often rote. Wash, rinse, repeat. Adults fail to learn new things and time flies by. We look at the calendar and can’t believe another year is almost over.

If the speed of time is related to how much new information you learn and how often you indulge your curiosity, then you have the power to slow time by breaking out of the familiar and stretching your mind. It’s time to learn something new!

Learning something new and exercising your creativity and curiosity enhances your life, increases your mindfulness and builds your self-esteem. It can also make you more valuable to your company—possibly increasing your compensation and definitely boosting your expertise.

Smart Companies Value Training

Smart companies understand this value of learning for their employees. In an IBM Smarter Workforce study (, IBM looked at the best and worst performing companies to see if training played a role in performance. The results showed that 84 percent of employees in best-performing organizations are receiving the training they need, compared to 16 percent in the worst-performing companies—a full 68 percent better. That performance translates into increased productivity, higher quality and faster rollout of new products or services. That, in turn, bolsters customer satisfaction and retention.

Performance isn’t the only benefit to companies. Employees who are receiving the training they need are happier and more likely to stay with the organization, which reduces protracted new candidate searches, costly turnover and production delays while new employees get up to speed. Employee retention also reduces an organization’s risk, retaining crucial institutional knowledge, known skills and cultural assimilation.

Better Results Faster

The value of training might be most critical in the technology field. As technology evolves at a breakneck pace, the skills many employees brought into the workplace are not the ones they’ll need for the next project. They can fumble around using trial and error to try to solve these new complex challenges, or they can invest some time in learning from an expert and accomplish the task with much greater success.

Take the most basic example: The pilot light on your stove goes out and you’re not sure how to light it. You can experiment with different attempts to relight it while you lay on the floor hoping not to blow up the house or lose your eyebrows. Or you can go straight to YouTube, type in your specific problem, watch a two-minute instructional video and walk away with your problem solved and eyebrows intact. Pausing to seek out education from an expert first helps you achieve better results faster.

IDC research found that 80 percent of IT managers believe effective training is critical to a project’s success, and 75 percent believe effective training increases the chances of a project being delivered on deadline ( Whether your next big project is analytics, artificial intelligence, mobile or cloud, you’re going to need well-trained employees to move your organization into the future. The right skills provided to the right people at the right time can be game changing for both employee and employer.

Break the Cycle

Stop watching the days fall off the calendar and the years slip by. You can rekindle your excitement, engage your curiosity and move yourself and your company forward. Try some of these ideas:

Find a User Group

Visit the IBM Skills Gateway ( ) to create your own education profile and take a Learning Journey.

You’ll soon be on your way to all the benefits of learning, including your newfound ability to slow time.

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