Training as a 'Perk'

Employee retention is a tremendous concern for businesses everywhere, but it is doubly so for the fleet and vehicle service industries. Yes, the cost of retaining a good employee can sometimes seem high. But the cost of replacing a good employee can be severe.

Many studies put the cost of replacing a solid employee—considering time and resources previously invested, lost knowledge and skills, morale of remaining employees, recruiting and retraining—at about one year’s worth of the departing employee’s salary.

Can training have an impact? Consider this: after "money" and "relationship with supervisor," one of the biggest reasons employees cite for leaving a job is, "no clear career path."

A training structure—not just randomly paying for training for those who request it, but real structure—is useful in showing an employee a means to that career path. Segmenting technician levels (or levels for other fleet jobs) and tying the attainment of those levels at least in part to completion of training courses provides a framework wherein a worker can see himself or herself succeeding. That is one possible way to turn an employee who might walk down the street for a two percent increase in pay into one who is motivated to succeed with his or her current employer.

For the employee already motivated to succeed, providing the training necessary to enable that success is essential. This is the kind of employee you really want to keep! Your best employees are the ones who want to grow their knowledge and skills, learn new job tasks outside their immediate responsibilities, and expand their careers.

Training is also a way to keep the employee interested and engaged in his or her work. As some tasks become mundane and routine for the motivated employee, the attentive fleet maintenance manager will be looking for new and challenging things to assign that person—while leaving tasks that have become "dull" to a newer employee who can easily learn them.

Providing training opportunities that are in the interest of both the employee and company goals is a win-win. And it sends a message to other workers in the shop: that the company supports learning and rewards continuous improvement.


In the December, 2006 Training column, I suggested that some Generation Y individuals entering the work force need to improve their professional communication skills due to the explosion of things like instant messaging, chat rooms and home schooling.

I have received some contrary feedback on the home schooling portion of that statement. I have to apologize for using one-sided data and making generalizations based on personal perceptions of the isolation of home schooled students. I have checked many studies as a follow-up, and most non-biased ones suggest that there is little or no correlation between home schooling and public/private schooling when it comes to interpersonal and communication skills. This is especially true now that home schooling has become more widespread and refined.

A study cited by suggests that as long as the parent is focused on "getting the child out in public and enhancing their social life… they should not be concerned about the child’s social skills."

With either home schooled or traditionally schooled students, it really comes down to the parent. Getting a child involved in extracurricular activities and/or community groups is important to developing communication skills. Joyce Swann is cited in Homeschool World as stating: "It is imperative that parents [of] home schooled children insure that their students learn early on to express themselves in an intelligent manner, both orally and on paper."

Although my article did state that its findings "are generalizations and do not apply to every individual," I should not have expanded my statements about the way Generation Y communicates to include home schooling as a factor.