This dialogue between a CFO and a CEO has appeared on LinkedIn and on a couple of other websites. The topic is, of course, training your employees even when there is a chance they might leave you and here’s what I think.
The question is based on a misleading assumption, that is that your decision on whether to train or not train your employees should be based on their possible leaving vs. not leaving your Company. But if that’s the rationale behind your decision, you’re actually providing/not providing training for all the wrong reasons.
Although many business owners seem to think (or wish) it wasn’t like this, a working relationship is like any other relationship in your life. And the success of any relationship is based on how much YOU put in. Its well-being depends on how much responsibility YOU take for your contributions and initiatives. It goes for your wife, it goes for your employee. If you only give based on what you might receive in return, how long do you think your relationship will survive? If you buy your girlfriend expensive gifts expecting she will be forced to stay with you because of a piece of jewelry, you will be bitterly disappointed.
The same goes for you as an employer. If you decide to pay for training hoping to guilt your employees into staying with you, that’s a recipe for disaster. (Side note: and if that’s your reasoning…well, maybe you should participate in the training as well!) Saying “I’m not training my employees and provide them with motivation, energy and focus, because they might leave next year” is like saying “I won’t put any oil in my car, because it will run out anyway, so why bother”. How far do you think your car is going to take you?
Providing training is an investment for your own good as a business owner, not a Christmas present that you give begrudgingly. The investment in your employees’ training goes much deeper than the mere ROI (return on investment) concept. It’s about making YOUR COMPANY better, not feeling entitled to a return from your employees. A good training will make your Company’s energy move, it will remove mental and emotional dust, it will give your staff renewed enthusiasm and vision. And it is your company that will benefit from having more motivated, focused and positive people.

Now back to the worried CFO: what if someone does leave some time after the training? Well, they probably would have left anyway, wouldn’t they. And if they leave, it means they don’t believe in your Company, they don’t feel comfortable working for you and they don’t appreciate what you have created. Now, why would you want someone like that to stay? And most importantly: is one person leaving reason enough not to enable those who stay to be more effective and passionate about the job they do for you (for you) every day?
You will benefit more from the 8 people who will stay after the training than from those 3 who left, because they probably didn’t share your mission to begin with.

So…don’t think about the kind of employees you want but about the kind of employer you want to be. The key juxtaposition is not staying vs. leaving, it’s about evolving vs. stagnating. And I’m talking about your Company. What would you choose?