Trained Employees Waiting At The Station

“How much do I invest in my employees?”—an age old question asked by many business owners and leaders who sometimes fear that trained-up employees will leave for another job opportunity, taking the training with them. On the flip side, if you don’t train your employees, you end up with untrained employees stuck at work stations underperforming, or worse yet, driving customers away.

So what is an employer to do, train or not train? As with many questions, this question does not have a black and white, yes or no answer. It is reasonable to expect applicants for jobs to have skills applicable to the position they are applying for. It is also a reality of our current economic and technological times that the pace of change has increased and the regulatory environment has gotten more complex. The applicant who was highly qualified and able to perform all the essential functions of the job can quickly become the employee with outdated skills. I think we need to reframe the question—is this particular employee worth training?

In our consulting work, we sometimes run across what Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway refer to in their book, “Toxic Workplace,” as the toxic employee. (If you want to learn more about toxic employees, you might want to pick up a copy of the book. Or give me a call at 701-451-5027 and I’d happy to visit with you about it.) We have found little remedy for the truly toxic employee other than assisting them in transitioning to a different line of work. Typically, a toxic employee is not worth the investment of more training and development dollars.

A good candidate for training and development is the loyal employee with a positive attitude who has been productive but whose skill sets have become outdated. These are the kind of folks you want to invest in. Sit down with them to create a professional development or training plan that will get them back to full productivity. While not every employee will be interested, most will recognize the need to keep honing their skills. Training and developing this type of employee usually provides a very good return on investment in terms of retaining a loyal employee and returning to or exceeding former levels of productivity.

Top performing high maintenance employees provide a particular challenge. These are the most creative folks in organizations who come with eccentricities that can put off team members and cause serious difficulties in the work culture. They aren’t toxic, however, and training and coaching services for such employees can create a high return on investment. These top performing high maintenance employees often need assistance with issues such as teamwork, communications, management, and leadership skills. And because they are high performers, they are usually worth the investment.

Mandatory trainings, like sexual harassment prevention, drug free workplace, universal precautions, etc. , are the kinds of trainings smart employers invest in because they know it decreases their risk for lawsuits and regulatory infractions. We do see employers who try to slide by and not provide the mandatory trainings. Not all get caught but those who do take huge hits to their reputations and finances.

Again the primary question is not whether to provide or not provide training to employees. The question to be asking is which employees do you want to retain and keep productive? Well trained and appreciated employees are much more likely to stay on the job and less likely to be looking for new opportunities.

If you have questions about how The Village Business can help your business or organization provide high quality training, contact us at 1-800-627-8220 or visit our website at

About the blogger
Darrin Tonsfeldt has a background of program administration, employee supervision, and clinical experience, as well as 20 years of experience in organization consulting and planning. He provides oversight of The Village Business Institute, Regional Counseling Services, and Financial Resource Center programs. He also provides consulting services that include strategic planning; career, leadership, management, and executive coaching; corporate training and group facilitation; crisis response in the workplace; and organizational consulting.