Staff up-skill: How do I train staff without losing them?

Dear Aunty B,

I manage a leisure centre which incorporates a gym and a swimming pool. Last week I had two of my swimming instructors ask me if work would pay for them to complete a course which would allow them to teach squad level children and teenagers.

At the moment they teach mainly younger levels and they’re fantastic – both the kids and parents love them. They’re reliable, focused and always volunteering to do extra shifts when staff call in sick.

We’re running on a pretty tight budget at the moment and I’ve already got employees teaching the squads who are doing a great job. I’m afraid if I pay for them to do the course they’ll only want to take the higher levels, resulting in me losing two of my best infant instructors, and it will encourage other employees to ask if they too can do other courses at my expense.

What should I do?



Dear Claire,

I think the greater question here is can you afford not to let your staff up-skill? Are you at risk of two of your best employees leaving should their request be refused? These employees have clearly proven themselves over a period of time for you to speak so highly of them, so maybe it’s time they’re rewarded. Not to mention, you should feel pleased your staff actually want to improve themselves.

I imagine that teaching the same levels can also get boring when doing it for a prolonged period of time. While it helps to perfect their skills, maybe it’s time for a shake-up and this could be your employees’ way of asking to be challenged.

Shaking things up can be beneficial in many ways – it can reinvigorate passion in a tired workforce, increase productivity and lead to a better workplace culture.

As for the cost, the price of the course is just under $400 per person. This may seem like a lot, but think about how much more it would cost the business if you had to find someone new to replace your employee – not to mention if any of the parents decided to follow your employee out the door.

However, rather than paying the full cost of the course up-front, you could establish an arrangement with your employees where they complete the course and then are refunded the cost upon its successful completion.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B


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