Investing in focused employee development and training programs can reap big dividends for employers, including cost savings, enhanced productivity, greater employee satisfaction, better customer service, higher retention rates and improved company image.

Take for instance, ADP, which has been on Training Magazine’s Training Top 125 for seven years. In 2014, their sales training program on managing virtual teams and time management resulted in an average of 7 percent growth in sales. According to the same article, Discover Financial “switched 70 percent of its training to e-learning, videos and self-study. Of the people who took those new models, compared to standard instructor-led models, there was 6 percent higher employee satisfaction scores and 42 percent less attrition.”

While the statistics are compelling, training is often first on the chopping block when budget cuts hit, leaving training or HR departments with the burden of justifying their training programs. Articulating the business case for employee training and measuring the outcomes can go a long way in demonstrating the need and value of training.

To make a business case, it’s easy to want to begin with the cost of employee training. But instead of asking if employee training is worth it, ask if you can afford not to invest in your employee’s ongoing development.

  • Can we afford the cost of poor customer service and the potential loss of good customers?
  • Can we afford employees who are not engaged in the company or their jobs?
  • Can we afford to lose our best employees who may have better opportunities elsewhere in organizations willing to invest in their development?

By framing the conversation around what can be lost by not investing in training, you focus on the true value of training, not just the cost.

Next, think about reasons to keep skills and knowledge sharp and how this can be measured to make proving ROI a little easier:

  • Reason: Employees who know their jobs and are up-to-date with the latest knowledge and skills are generally more productive.
  • How to measure it: Productivity
  • Reason: Employees who can see that the organization cares about their development and productivity are generally more satisfied in their jobs and less likely to leave.
  • How to measure it: Retention rates and costs for hiring replacements
  • Reason: Those same highly-satisfied employees are more likely to produce the company’s products and services with care, creating less quality issues and fostering greater customer loyalty while building a winning brand in a company others want to be a part of.
  • How to measure it: Both customer and employee churn
  • Reason: Internally, some types of training programs can enhance communications when the entire company is using the same key terms and streamlining work processes.
  • How to measure it: Time to market
  • Reason: Shared internal messaging and shared values furthers the “branding” and commitment to the goals of the company, leading to happier, more invested employees.
  • How to measure it: Employee satisfaction

Make sure you also demonstrate how your reasons to develop employees complement your company’s strategic priorities. By proving how training affects your company’s strategic goals, you can definitely make a strong business case that employee training directly delivers business results and ROI—and should stay off the budget chopping block.