I want to introduce new technology into my business but the cost per head of training staff to use it is going to be high. I don’t want to invest in training people who are then going to leave and take the knowledge with them. What can I do to protect the business? There are a couple of employees who I suspect are looking around for other jobs and one who is near retiral age. Can I exclude them from the training?
This is a common problem for employers and is one of the reasons why employers spend a lot of time and effort on motivating and retaining staff. Not only do departing staff leave with valuable know-how but there are usually always costs involved in recruiting and training replacements.
One solution which employers often use is to ask staff to agree to refund the cost of training should their employment terminate within a certain period of time. It is a little clumsy to take this approach though and many employers avoid doing this because of the effect on goodwill with their staff. You also have to factor in that, whilst employees may agree to repay the cost of training, they may not actually have the funds available to do that. Depending on the sums involved, even if they consent to it being deducted from their final pay, that may not be enough.
The other alternative would be to consult with staff about the fact that you are considering investing in this new technology and making them aware of the cost per head of training. Involve them, get their “buy in” to the idea and take soundings from people about the roll-out of the training and how it should be co-ordinated. People appreciate being included in these types of plans and you may well find that the new approach to consultation, along with the difference that the technology makes results in a renewed enthusiasm amongst staff. Of course, you may find that the ones who are thinking of leaving ask to be trained last, but that in itself is a good thing as they may move on before you incur the expense.
Bear in mind that the person who is approaching retirement age has the right to request to remain in employment beyond that date. They may want to remain in the business for another few years. The Government is planning to abolish the default retirement age of 65 as of October 2011 and so it is going to become more difficult to “force” people to retire. Speak to this person about their plans at an early stage – it may well be that they can’t wait to retire and have no interest in staying and doing training. The key is to avoid making assumptions just because of the person’s age because then you start to fall foul of the laws on age discrimination. If this employee doesn’t want to retire, then you should train them in the same way as you are doing with everyone else.
Best of luck!