By Steve Touhill, Partner.

Many years ago this month, I reported to the seventh floor lobby of 2 East 48 th Street in New York to start my first job as an assistant media planner with Ogilvy & Mather. At the time, O&M had a legendary training program for new recruits. Not only were we taught the fundamentals of media planning, we learned how to communicate effectively as business professionals (I still own and refer to “Writing That Works” by Ken Roman, Ogilvy’s former chairman and CEO). Even though other agencies constantly recruited well-trained Ogilvy employees, O&M maintained the program because the retention value of training outweighed the cost of turnover.

Today, training programs like the one I went through seem to have gone the way of floppy disks. It’s easy to view training as a disposable luxury when companies live and die on short-term profitability metrics. Unfortunately, that often sends a message to employees that they are equally disposable – if companies are not going to invest in developing their long-term career potential, why should employees invest in the company?

Recognizing that training reduces churn, there are still things you can you do as a thrifty manager who wants to develop your team on a budget:

  •  Start by thinking of training as a “continuing education” model rather than the university model that my O&M experience represented. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive online resources that enable employees to learn on their own time and at their own pace.
  •  Make it practical and follow up training with application of their learning in real world situations. For example: role-play and presentation competitions for salespeople cost only your time to implement and conduct.
  •  Include successful completion of training as an objective in your employee’s performance review. This should be an achievement, a form of recognition.
  •  Create an archive of the trainings in Dropbox so your staff can go back for remediation and review. No need to recreate your content.

As a boutique executive search firm, we understand that budgets can be limited. Nevertheless, we invest in our own continuing education to stay on top of Internet technology industry trends and best practices in order to remain competitive and grow our own business. If we can do it, so can you.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and good luck for a strong finish to the year.