Thinking of Starting a Training Department?

At some stage of business development every company wrestles with the decision to establish a dedicated training department with specialist personnel. The pressures to do this will mount as your company grows and your desire to standardise procedures strengthens. On the surface, this may seem like a straightforward and cost-effective decision to make, but at times this is far from the truth.

A Training Manager or Training Officer will cost your company in the range of $150-350,000 per year after the total cost of wages and salaries, support staff, training programs, films, equipment to produce handout notes and audio/visual aids, office space, etc., is taken into account. From observation of hospitality companies that have in-house training personnel, an interesting statistic emerges — the average in-house trainer does less than 30 days training per year, the rest of the time they spend researching, preparing training courses, administering, and writing training manuals. This means that to deliver actual in-house training is costing those companies between $4,500-$9,000 per day! There are far cheaper and more professional alternatives.

In addition to the cost involved, consider the skills required to service the majority of training needs within a hospitality company. The training of line staff is fairly straight forward, and can be accomplished by a person possessing good communication and people-handling skills. The training of management is far more complex and requires a person who understands the needs and pressures of operational management, i.e. an experienced manager.

The placement of an experienced manager into a training position is quite expensive. In today’s environment this would require a salary of $100,000 ($ Aust.) at the minimum. For this reason, most hospitality companies opt for the appointment of cheaper, relatively inexperienced ‘Training Officers or HR Managers’. These are usually from a human resources background and not a management background, and are only able to meet the company’s lower level staff development needs.

Hospitality companies that have opted to establish training departments based on non-management trainers usually suffer from a distinct lack of middle and senior management development. The statistics compiled by Horwath and Horwath (Aust.) lend credence to this argument; only 4% of senior hospitality management have had any formal training beyond the supervisory level, 75% have not received any training in the preceding 5 years. This seems ironic when you consider the broad range of skills required to be successful at a senior level (it may also explain why so many companies run into trouble during difficult times).

The establishment of an internal training department should only be considered when your company reaches such a size that a clear economy of scale can be achieved. Up to that point, the company’s training needs are better served by operational management, drawing support from a variety of external services when required.