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Yes, the training of employees pays off

Investing in a few days of training each year is a good investment, believes Martin Print

Frank Haslam Milan and Thomas Vale Construction both made it into The Sunday Times’ 2007 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

To get into this annual league table, your employees need to feel good about the company and the way it is run, for it is they who supply the scores that determine which companies are promoted into this prestigious ‘premier league’.

Ranking 28 out of 100, FHM was the highest placed construction industry company, with Thomas Vale achieving a creditable 82nd place. If 82 out of 100 sounds less than impressive, consider how many didn’t make it on the list. Research reveals FHM provides an average of seven days training per employee. And Thomas Vale has invested £1 million in a dedicated training centre.

Annual data

Wider investigation reveals that Barratt Developments is aiming for an average of four days training per employee, and South-west England-based Midas has plans for three days.

You might think these figures don’t look particularly impressive. You might also be surprised to learn that, compared with the construction industry as a whole, all these companies are ‘top quartile’ performers in an industry that averages only one day of training per employee per year.

The industry performance data on training is published each year by Constructing Excellence on its KPIzone website (www.kpizone.com) as part of the UK Construction Industry Key Performance Indicators.

The data is collected annually from a wide range of organisations across the industry, and provides a simple starting point for measuring and benchmarking performance on critical issues. The Training KPI data reveals not only the industry’s poor average performance, but also shows that over 20 per cent of companies reported that they gave no training to their employees at all during the year.

While some of this poor performance is due to the fact that the data includes micro-businesses (one or two-person companies that do little training), my feeling is these results are neither impressive nor clever.

If you are one of the below average companies managing somewhere between zero and one day’s training per person per year, you may ask what evidence exists that training benefits your company. And does measuring the amount of training tell you anything about the quality?

Companies such as FHM and Thomas Vale provide the answers to these questions.

Martin Print is a consultant with Constructing Excellence