Why So Many Companies Fail at Employee Training

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In order to compete effectively in the marketplace, companies have to invest time, money, and effort into training their staff members. Unfortunately, there is a persistent skills gap across virtually all industries in the United States. But the problem isn’t that companies aren’t trying to train their staff. In fact, in the aggregate, the problem is that companies are often failing in their efforts. In an article for Entrepreneur, Anna Johansson argues that companies are failing for four major reasons.

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Lack of Focus

Training efforts are often misplaced, overbroad, or not tied directly enough to employee job responsibilities. “What they don’t understand is which areas of training and development are most important,” says Johansson. “Having employees with more skills and greater familiarity is good. But, if your employees are learning the wrong things, their knowledge may not end up having any practical use.”

Lack of Engagement

The employers are only one part of the story when it comes to getting training to stick. Many employers have very focused and well-planned training programs, but they’re trying to train employees who aren’t engaged. For training to be truly effective, employees need to buy in to the idea that it’s beneficial for them, as well as their employers.

Employee Retention

Even if an employer has a great training program and is working with highly engaged employees, in the current job market, it’s just so hard to hold onto talent that employers often lose recently trained staff before they can recoup their training investment.


As we noted above, the training problem most companies run into isn’t money. In fact, companies spend huge amounts of money on training. Unfortunately, many take the attitude that they can throw money at their training problem. This attitude results in a lack of focus, poor engagement, and inefficient use of training funds.

When one considers the skills gap in the Untied States, it might be tempting to assume companies simply aren’t trying to train their workers or that they’re trying, but cutting corners financially. In fact, American companies spend tens of billions on employee training each year. The problem is that these employers are often lacking in focus, as they overspend on trying to train disengaged employees who have a high turnover rate.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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