The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) recently released a 2001 report on corporate training expenditures. A brief summary of study findings:
Whoa Nellie! $677 per person? A $40 per-head increase in four years? A decline in training dollars as a percentage of salary? Please stand by for just a moment while I experience a brief but searing Gonzo flashback – to all of the strategic plans I have read in the last two years that say, “Our employees are our most important asset”…
Pontificating aside, I would say that bank training budgets, based on our experience, jive pretty well with the ASTD numbers, and might actually be slightly higher. Even so, whenever we conduct a strategic or technology assessment with our clients, we ask employees about the biggest obstacles they have in their jobs. Inevitably – and I mean 100% of the damn time – one of the two top answers will be “inadequate training.”
Now, you might respond that this really means that employees never think they are trained enough no matter how much you spend, and there may be some truth to that. But let’s focus back on the numbers for a bit.
Begin with the assumption that your bank spends the average $677 per employee. Now ask yourself how much of that budget goes to the following:
New teller training
My guess is that a new teller costs more than $677 to get up and running on the line in the first two months, let alone the first year. Add to that the cost of 30% turnover annually, and it is easy to conclude that teller training costs a disproportionate amount.
Training for acquired bank employees
The effort and cost to train employees of purchased banks/branches can eclipse everything else for months at a time.
Training for new systems and upgrades
Banks spend a lot of money just getting users to the same level of expertise – not better, just equal – on a new system, or a new version of a system (just think about the last DOS-to-Windows or Windows-to-browser training effort).
These costs are the ones that supply people with the basic skills they need to show up and do their jobs, which leaves that much less to spend on elevating skills and making people excellent performers. The banking industry suffers from this issue more than most others do, in large part because of the pace of consolidation and system changes.
My point is this – bank training budgets should treat new teller training, acquisition training, and training related to new system installations as being over and above the normal budget, not part of it. This could result in a training budget of $1,000 or more per employee – and it would be worth every penny.
2002 is already shaping up as a year in which expense budgets are going to be challenged very hard. Smaller staffs are going to be asked to be more productive. This makes protecting the training budget more important than ever. It’s easy to fund, or even over-fund, training when times are good. It takes vision and brass to do it when times are looking lean.
But you decide. Are your employees really your most important asset? -tr