Employee Education: It’s Not Overrated

Q4intelligence on Feb 20, 2018 3:00:00 AM

You hire your employees for their knowledge, skills, and winning personalities. But then what?

Do you plunk them in their positions and assume they will continue to thrive indefinitely? If you’re a busy employer, HR manager, or supervisor, this may sound tempting. But today’s cutting-edge capabilities can quickly turn into yesterday’s news. Before you know it, your trailblazing new hires could be left in the dust.

Now think about the kind of team you could have if you constantly offered your employees ways to expand their knowledge, update their skills, and continue to develop, both professionally and personally.

It’s worth the investment

Employee education and training are vital components of any organization. Making sure your employees are constantly improving is critical to keeping up with the speed of business.

Companies that provide consistent educational opportunities often experience lower turnover, along with increased retention and engagement. And who wouldn’t like a little bit of that?

Can we do this? Will people show up?

One concern about offering these opportunities is that no one will actually take advantage of them, or that you’ll be talking to an empty room.

But the great thing about providing employee education is that it allows your team the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills without the stress of asking for permission or missing time from work. And because employee education is often provided for free or at reduced rates, it removes the most common barriers to participation.

Professional development comes in all shapes and sizes, and there are a variety of ways to incorporate employee education into your organization.

If you like the idea of in-house training, consider putting together a series of webinars, lunch and learns, and/or training sessions. If you’d prefer to outsource, there are lots of options, including conferences, retreats, seminars, and even classes at local colleges.

If you’re still nervous about it, ask around. You may be surprised at how many of your colleagues and employees are interested in learning something new.

Think outside the cubicle

Educational programs don’t need to be focus solely on job functions and processes. After all, we’re talking about expanding horizons here. Sessions can cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Leadership development
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Team building
  • Decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Creativity

Training and development can have a high rate of return, benefitting the company's bottom line as well as employee productivity.

Employees value educational opportunities because they demonstrate their employer’s appreciation and commitment, as well as a willingness to invest their in personal and career development.

Meanwhile, there are many less obvious - but equally powerful - benefits that can come with implementing employee education programs.

Finding hidden gems

Training programs will provide the obvious benefit of helping those who need a boost in certain skills the opportunity to improve. But they can also identify unknown strengths. Didn’t realize that customer service agent was an Excel wizard? Neither did she. Until she took a few classes.

You’ll also be helping yourself with succession planning, as you will easily be able to see who is interested in various aspects of professional development. No need to try to figure out who is promotion material. They’ll reveal themselves to you! 

Reinforcing consistency

When it comes to skill building, employee education helps develop both proficiency and consistency.

Offering training programs ensures that all employees have the same opportunities to master the skills required for their jobs. Group sessions can also help standardize your processes so you don’t have 20 employees doing the same thing 20 different ways.

Training is the gift that keeps on giving. Once your current employees are up to speed, they’ll be better equipped to onboard and train your new hires.

Improving productivity

Employees who receive ongoing training will be more successful at their work. Educated employees demonstrate a strong understanding of the industry, as well as the skills needed to perform in their roles. This often leads to improved productivity and performance.

The bonus here is that improved performance often leads to increased confidence, which facilitates new and innovative ideas.

Building a better culture

Employees who have access to employee education and development programs are often more satisfied with their careers. In addition to letting employees know they are valued, you are also fostering a more creative, challenging, and ultimately satisfying work environment.

Providing opportunities for personal and professional development will also position you to have a team filled with some of the most well-rounded, qualified employees in its industry.

So in the process of making your employees happy, you can also become an industry leader, innovator, and employer of choice.

How’s that for a business proposition?

Photo by Evgeny Atamanenko 

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Topics: HR Strategy