Are You Making Your Employees Stupid?

Stupid-LeadershipAccording to Merrill Lynch, “50% of employee skills become outdated in 3 to 5 years.” WOW, when I read this statistic, it really surprised me. Many leaders think that the experience of just doing the required work, day in and day out, is enough to keep their employees knowledgeable to optimally perform their duties. Unfortunately that is not true at all.

On the job training, meaning training that is acquired by just doing your job, interacting with clients, and talking with colleagues is hardly enough to create productive and engaged employees that are on the cutting edge of their disciplines. Many leaders and managers struggle with training programs because they are often tasked with reducing costs. So training programs are often the first to go.

Consider this though, according to a Saratoga Institute study, “Workers who have good training and professional development paths average 12% turnover; workers who don’t have learning and growth opportunities average 41% turnover.” That is not even the worst of it; consider additionally that the average cost of replacing an employee is 150% of their salary.

Those numbers mean that eliminating a training budget will probably cost you much more than you can save. To support that statement, Motorola has discovered that, “…for every $1 spent on training, there will be $30 in productivity gains in 3 years.” Why then would anyone cut training?

There is a lot of hidden meaning in these numbers that whisper of leadership, culture, productivity, cost savings, and innovation; but they all point to the fact that an organization will be less successful if they operate without formal training and coaching opportunities for their employees.

There are a lot of different training programs available that can train employees on a multitude of things, such as: Leadership, Execution, Productivity, Customer Service, Management, Teamwork, Collaboration, Innovation, Social Media, Financial Management, Technology, etc…

These programs are not always expensive and really could just involve reading a book in a quiet room of the office to hone a specific skill.

I challenge you, before the year is out, to put together a training program for next year, for your employees that will make them, and you, more successful in building the organization. Don’t make your employees “stupid” by failing to give them proper training.

Shameless plug, but if you are interested in execution and leadership training, be sure to check out all my programs that are half-off until the release of my book about execution.

Do you agree with these statistics about training programs? Please share your experience with training and development programs that you have experienced or implemented.

About Todd Nielsen

Todd Nielsen helps organizations create miracles of success and profitability through the power of execution. Having served as Vice-President, President, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, and Chief Executive Officer of organizations, he has learned how to create a culture that "Gets Things Done." He is passionate about leadership, and is a dynamic and inspirational speaker.


  1. Todd, I have seen the ROI point on training before (Those numbers mean that eliminating a training budget will probably cost you much more than you can save. To support that statement, Motorola has discovered that, “…for every $1 spent on training, there will be $30 in productivity gains in 3 years.” Why then would anyone cut training?).

    Is all training created equal in terms of providing that type of return? For example, what’s the ROI of funding a MBA program vs funding a Dale Carnegie Course?

  2. Maria Garcia says:

    Absolutely Todd, training is one of the must tools, is what keeps your employees knowledgable, engaged and happy. It’s frustrating not know how to do something, because of lack of knowledge it makes one looks I won’t say that word, but you know it. Not only that but the more trained and knowledgable your personnel are the best they can serve the customers, the less mistakes the more profit at the end. Invest in your people they are worth it. Love your posting Ted
    Best regards

  3. Damir Prusac says:

    Some researches says that 10% of knowledge is acquired by formal training, 20% through collaboration and the rest via actual work. I would add some ‘spare’ time for innovation and thinking about ideas and work on something different than ‘execution’. We should think about these dimensions beyond the training plans and courses.
    I guess that leaders are enablers that to happen…
    Good post!

  4. Well done Todd. “People are our most valuable asset”. If that’s true, then invest in your people more than you invest in technology, equipment and building upgrades. Training programs in the 1970’s were at least 120 hours per week per employee. That’s not just for new employees. New employee “training” is not training, it’s orientation and education. Training is providing people new skills. The best companies are realizing that training is a competitive advantage to attract and retain the best. The best performers are learners. Ray Attiyah – Author, The Fearless Front Line

  5. It’s a fascinating concept. Working in the digital world it’s something that’s all too obvious. The world changes so rapidly that you have to adopt the Kaizen approach of continuously learning and updating your skills.

    For those of an earlier era however where jobs were for life and skills were more enduring it’s a difficult attitude to adopt.

    You also have what could be termed the innovators dilemma. Whilst that was coined to refer to companies failing to cannibalize their core products in the face of new innovations, the same applies to managers. They achieved success by doing things a certain way. It’s a rare manager that’s willing to change that approach to try something new and unknown.


  1. […] article posted last year, by Todd Nielsen, “Are You Making Your Employees Stupid?” points out a statistic by Merrill Lynch that “50% of employee skills become outdated in 3-5 […]

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