Continuing education can be advantageous for both your employees and your organization in a number of ways. Once you have selected a method that works best for everyone, how do you implement such a program that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved?
- Determine Educational Needs – Talk with your employees to determine what their educational needs and wants are. Would on-the-job training be sufficient or would a small group of employees benefit from being sent to a workshop or seminar? Does one position require a particular certification? Do your employees want to develop their skills further?
- Create an Outline – Map out what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. This plan may include an introductory vision/goal of what you hope to achieve for your company and your employees, a budget for training, the methods of continuing education, and guidelines for employee attendance/completion and recertification.
- Develop a Policy – Playing off of your initial continuing education plan, creating a policy to provide and communicate to your employees is critical. Particularly for continuing education programs in which a significant amount of money is invested in the education of the employee (e.g., college coursework), a clear policy is vital in ensuring that you both reap the benefits.
- Be Fair and Consistent – Make certain that when implementing this type of policy, you provide every employee with the opportunity to develop their skills (within reason and as pertinent to the job and functions performed). There are always opportunities for ongoing growth and development and while this may look different for each individual, work with your employees to find the best fit for them.
Encouraging and supporting professional development in the workplace is a proven way to boost morale and engagement. Get creative. Investing in your employees leads to higher levels of productivity, retention, and feelings of appreciation which in turn lead to loyal, long-term employees.
Last week we talked about the various benefits of providing your employees with the opportunity to participate in continuing education, including loyalty and retention, higher levels of productivity, and more marketable employees. Continuing education in the workplace is not one-size-fits all. There are countless methods and ways to pursue and apply this benefit within your company, it’s just a matter of determining what is the best fit for your culture and what would prove to be the most mutually beneficial at the professional (organizational) and personal (individual) level.
- College Courses – If your budget allows for it, college courses to expand the knowledge base of your employees may be advantageous, depending on if such education is necessary for the position and for the development of the individual. Typically the most expensive option, college education is often part of a written agreement with detailed expectations.
- Seminars and Conferences – A great way to stay on top of changes within your industry, allowing your employees to attend conferences and seminars keeps them abreast of the latest in trends and advancements and the change of pace is a great way to improve employee engagement and morale.
- Webinars – Typically a comparably more budget-friendly option to conferences, webinars provide employees with some of the same information regarding new policies, developments, and innovations within your industry. A benefit to webinars is they can be done onsite and many providers offer the option for rebroadcasts providing scheduling flexibility.
- Certifications – Depending on the position, some individuals may benefit from obtaining a certification that is pertinent to the job. Often these certifications will involve a period of studying on the part of the employee, followed by a test they must take and pass. Recertification is also often part of this process to maintain credentials.
- On-the-Job Training – Many individuals learn best through hands on experience. Sitting through a day-long conference or enrolling them in a college course may work in the short term, but physically performing the task is what makes the skills stick. One-on-one mentoring and coaching and cross training with highly skilled individuals are ways to provide this to those employees.
There are many various factors that will determine which of these methods of continuing education is best for your company. Industry, budget, and culture are all aspects that should be taken into account when considering a continuing education program. Follow along next week as we discuss how to develop and implement such a program within your organization, and what steps you need to follow to create a policy that works for everyone.
After being in his position as a Team Lead for nearly 3 years, Scott was getting increasingly restless. He had expressed some interest in a promotion to a Department Head to his supervisor, but the position required certain certifications and industry training that Scott had yet to accomplish. Feeling discouraged, he put this aspiration on the back burner, resulting in his current feelings of boredom and stagnation.
An all too common scenario, it is easy for employees to reach the point in their careers where they feel they have given all they can give and have hit the height of what their position has to offer them, so what’s the point in putting forth the maximum effort any longer? Continuing training and education helps ensure that there is an ongoing feeling of accomplishment and sense of worth, resulting in a number of benefits for the employer and the organization:
Loyalty and Retention – It’s no secret that happy employees are more likely to stick around for lengthier periods of time. Many individuals view opportunities for continuing education (either within or outside the organization such as on-the-job training or a course at a community college) as a benefit. Perks such as these provide your company with a competitive edge with the goal of retaining loyal employees for the long haul.
Higher Levels of Productivity – More engaged employees are proven to be more motivated in their positions, resulting in higher performing individuals who provide better service to your customers and clients. To ensure mutually beneficial results, provide options for training in areas that benefit your organization including cross and on-the-job training.
Knowledge = Marketability – The more your employees know, the more they can do. The more they can do, the more valuable they are both to your organization and as an individual. Well-rounded employees are more marketable and provide you with a larger pool of talent ready and available to recruit into positions of management or those requiring specific skills.
There are countless additional employer benefits to providing continuing education to your employees, but on the flip side, it benefits your employees as individuals. Giving your employees this opportunity helps them as it increases their personal development, their feelings of self-worth and esteem, and increases their employment options in the long run, whether that be a transfer or promotion within your company or in the industry in general. Follow us next week as we discuss the various methods of continuing education, and the different ways this can be applied and pursued.
Ahhh, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and the crisp sheets of a spiral ring notebook. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples. New shoes and clothes to show off, and a haircut that is bound to impress. Sound familiar? That’s right, it is back to school time, but continuing our education doesn’t and shouldn’t just apply to kids. As professional individuals, there is always room to learn and grow to expand our knowledge base and skill set, and that is something we should all strive for.
Many of us join the workforce with an education or a degree and some amount of work experience under our belts. While we fully intend to apply that knowledge to our jobs, so much of what we do on a day-to-day basis is learned through hands on experience. Much like learning a new language, immersion is often the best way to learn and in this case, involvement and engagement in the new task or role, and then the practical application of those skills, is one of the most effective ways to ensure the knowledge sticks.
This month, we will delve deeper into continuing education in the workplace, including:
- The Benefits of Continuing Education – Understand how continuing education can benefit both your employees at an individual level and your organization as a whole. Determine if these benefits are something that would be advantageous to you and your company, and why implementing a program would be a valuable move.
- The Methods of Continuing Education – Continuing education isn’t simply attending courses at a local community college. Learn the different methods and ways continuing education can be pursued and applied.
- How to Implement Continuing Education – Once a method has been selected, how do you implement a continuing education program within your organization? Who needs to be involved and what steps need to be taken to ensure success for all parties involved?
Many of us want more from our professions than the regular grind of the 8 to 5 schedule. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut, to get stagnant and unmotivated from time-to-time, and to need something to motivate us to strive for more and want to do better. Next week, we will discuss how investing in your employees can help prevent all of that, and how everyone can reap the benefits of keeping the continuing education bus moving forward.