In such a tight job market, making your company's mantra "Train to retain" can make all the difference.

Employees today view training as something valuable, says Allen Salikof, president of ManagementRecruiters International Inc. Ongoing training is seen as a perk, like vacation time or aflexible work schedule or company-paid child care.

Training starts the day an employee is hired and goes on throughout the employee's life at the company,Salikof says. "But what that training entails in changing rapidly. Companies are now training employees tobe better people, not just better employees. As retention practices go, it's a dazzling success by allaccounts."

One of the most common questions that job candidates - especially young candidates - ask about a prospectiveemployer is what kind of ongoing training the employer will offer, he says. "If employees are going to makea commitment to an employer today, they want to know what kind of commitment the employer is going tomake to them in terms of both career and personal development."

Computer-based training makes it possible to design a program for an employee's individual needs andpace. Among the most popular life management skills companies are offering today are financial andretirement planning, stress management, time management, and ways to balance work and home life.

Benefits to Employees, Employer

These benefits to employees also benefit the employer, says Mary E. Carter, MRI's account manager forhuman resources. "Everything is designed so that the employee is better equipped to think aboutwork and to make sure employees are really getting what they need. The days of managers not payingattention to what employees face outside work is going away. Employees need to be productive, andcompanies want to assist them with whatever resources they have available."

Companies also are offering more training regarding career paths and ways to move within the organization,she says. Well-trained employees can make more informed decisions about their careers, she notes, and"employers want employees who are making better decisions all around. That benefits the organization moreas a whole."

Training is valuable in helping the company develop a stronger bench, Carter says, which reduces the cost ofbringing on new talent from the outside.

And instead of laying off employees who are not performing up to par, companies find it pays to retrain them through programs such as corporateuniversities.

Employers have become more savvy about what makes employees happy, according to Carter,because articles such as "the top 100 companies to work for" tell them what the competition is doing.

"They see the challenges they are faced with and are trying to answer the challenge in some unique way. It's happening across industries," she says.

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