by Molly Reichard, Culture Development Advisor, NWIRC

As the new year approaches, many of us set resolutions to exercise, lose weight, and save money. Also in the top ten New Year resolutions made each year is learning a new skill. Whether you are an employer or employee, the new year is a perfect time to assess skills gaps and make a training plan.

While the benefits of training are limitless, a recent McKinsey & Company study found that “organizations that prioritize people development become talent magnets for employees who want to build their knowledge and networks.” The study also confirmed that organizations that emphasize learning retain their talent and promote from within at a higher level than organizations that do not. Furthermore, lack of training and career growth opportunities is the number one reason employees quit. In today’s market, employers must offer learning and growth opportunities to attract and retain employees. A robust training plan also creates engaged employees with top notch skills.

To get started, assess skill gaps in your company, departments, and on an individual level. Using these gaps, develop and execute a training plan. While developing your plan, consider upcoming retirements and growth in your company along with the positions that will need filled due to these changes. Talk to your employees about the skills they want to improve and where they would like to grow within your company. Align your training plan with your company’s strategic plan to ensure you are thinking ahead and putting the right people in the right roles, with the right skills. Don’t forget to utilize WEDnet funding to maximize your training dollars.

Training can no longer be an after-thought or something we do when there is time, for both employers and employees. Research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) discovered that costs to replace an employee can be as much as 50-60% of their salary. However, this doesn’t reflect other losses to the company in time spent reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates for example. That cost rises to 90-200%. According to SHRM, losing an employee that makes $60,000 a year costs roughly $30,000 to $45,000 to replace; the total loss to the company is anywhere from $54,000 to $120,000. Training is a proven effective strategy to avoid these turnover costs. cites the top 11 skills employers seek in potential new hires as communication, leadership, teamwork, interpersonal skills, the ability to learn and adapt, self-management, organizational skills, computer skills, problem solving, being open minded and having a strong work ethic. Employees possessing these skills are sought after in the hiring process. Employees with these skills are also more likely to be promoted from within. Taking the initiative to ask your employer for training in these skills areas will improve your performance, reflect your desire to grow in the company, and increases the likelihood of better pay for you.

“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.” – Vern McLellan

Side Note: A free webinar is scheduled for December 14th at 12noon focused on support for developing your team, including tips for assessing your training efforts and WEDnet funding resources to offset costs of up-skilling employees. Register at