Investing In Your Employees Ongoing Education
Employee education is vital to the success of your firm – it bolsters the value of the worker and develops their self-esteem so that they are able to contribute in a more meaningful way. A well-designed professional development program contributes to employee motivation, engagement, and loyalty.
However, employee education often becomes an afterthought, as many companies hesitate to spend their time and money to educate their people. In fact, according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey, only 24% of millennials are “very satisfied” with the professional development opportunities in their working life. This article gives you reasons for empowering your employees through education and some tips on how to go about it.
Why Employee Education is So Important
Let us first consider three important reasons in favor of employee education.
Self-Development & Self-Esteem
Nobody likes to feel stuck at a dead-end job – all people strive for professional development and career advancement. When your employees feel like they are contributing to the company, it gives them a sense of value and self-worth.
Employee education is one of the best ways to encourage such feelings, because people simply become more confident when they have more to offer. They can even use some of that knowledge in their personal lives (increased digital literacy, a new language, etc.), which leads to both personal satisfaction and improved work morale.
Training gives employees the opportunity to acquire a wider skill-set. With more skills, they are better equipped for dealing with problems and are thus more productive. What is more, well-trained workers can extend their roles by covering more areas, which only leads to more productivity.
On the other hand, employees who feel unfit and demotivated will procrastinate and become apathetic, and this is likely to result in low productivity. Therefore, by investing in appropriate training for your employees, you decrease the need for constant supervision.
There is a false notion that trained employees tend to look for better job opportunities. The truth of the matter is that when a company invests in their employees, they feel more empowered and appreciated, which increases their loyalty to their current employer. Further, in the Deloitte Millennial Survey, “opportunities to progress/be leaders” comes in as a top consideration (excluding salary) when evaluating job opportunities. If a current employer provides opportunities to progress professionally, then employees have less incentive to look elsewhere.
Remember, hiring a new employee is more expensive than maintaining the existing one, even if it means investing in their training. When you regard your current employees as long-terms assets, you reap multiple benefits. For example, well-trained employees also have the capacity to train others.
Where to Start
Now that you know the importance of employee training, let’s consider some things you can do.
Announce Your Expectations
To begin, clearly outline relevant skills required for every role and the current skill-set of the existing team members. This will help you identify any gaps that can be filled by training programs. Ensure all the training is aligned with the particular priorities of the company, as well as those of the individual employees.
Before any program beings, create an atmosphere of trust by informing your employees what they will learn and why the company has decided to invest in the training. Emphasize that the program aims at providing talent and skill development, not extra work — in other words, the training should feel like an opportunity, not a burden.
You can also allow employees to undertake training in areas they choose and not just the ones that are company-assigned. For example, learning languages and improving communication skills can be valuable, especially in international companies that have multi-cultural personnel. Some companies provide professional development credits that employees can allocate as they choose.
Explore Training Methods
To account for different learning styles, consider multiple training methods, both online and in-person.
Luckily, the internet abounds in many ed-tech learning opportunities for businesses. There are various inexpensive and accessible options to choose from – educational websites, webinars, mobile apps, MOOCs , and so on. If you prefer good old offline learning, you can always send your employees to industry conferences, seminars, language courses, and workshops.
Don’t hesitate to encourage peer-to-peer training, such as mentorship and buddy programs, as well – it is a perfect method that benefits both parties, as well as saves time and money.
After a educational initiative is complete, it’s a good idea to evaluate the program in order to know its real impact. Ask your employees what they gained from the initiative and if they would recommend it to others. Getting feedback from your employees is also great because it will help you refine the program for the future.
It’s also important to recognize the efforts of those who completed the training by offering them incentives such as gifts, certification, or even bonuses. This will make them feel appreciated and more motivated to continue learning.
When you clearly announce your expectations, apply appropriate training methods, and seek feedback, the training program will be much more effective and meaningful. Remember, capable and ambitious workers are constantly looking to sharpen their skills and expand their expertise, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to provide them that chance.