With technology changing at an increasingly rapid pace, your employees can fall behind quickly even if they’re just out of university. The resulting skills gap can leave your company lagging behind your competitors. Offering education programs to your staff is a powerful and proactive way to stay competitive, build a stronger team, and boost engagement among your employees.
Benefits of Continuing Education
Offering education programs to your employees is a win-win situation. As a business owner, you’re too busy to be the expert in everything, but when your staff members are well-trained, you can hand off important tasks with confidence. New skills and knowledge make your employees more productive and innovative, so your company can gain an edge on other businesses in your industry.
Your employees benefit personally and professionally when you provide continuing education. It helps them perform better in their jobs, which can lead to faster raises and promotions. Skills-based training can make workers more efficient, so they can manage the same workload with less stress. When they eventually move on from your company, these additional skills make them more marketable.
Worried that your newly trained staff might leave for other opportunities? Rest easy – companies with strong development programs actually tend to have higher retention rates. After all, when you invest in employees, it builds loyalty and helps them feel more connected to your company. Learning new skills can also help prevent boredom, which is a key reason that employees leave a company. A 2016 Udemy study found that bored workers are twice as likely to leave a company, In the same study, 80% of respondents said that learning new skills would help them feel more engaged in their jobs.
Education Program Options
As a small business owner, it’s unlikely that you’re willing or able to pay for employees to get an MBA or an expensive certification. But even if you’re working with a tight budget, there are plenty of ways to offer education without breaking the bank.
Some options for employee education include:
- Online classes
- Certification courses
- Industry conferences
- Weekend workshops
- Memberships in professional associations
- On-the-job cross-training
- Partial tuition reimbursement
- Mentoring programs
- Leadership training
The cost of continuing education is often well worth it to keep a valuable employee. In many cases, these short-term costs are much lower than the expense of hiring and training a new staff member.
Creating Successful Education Initiatives
When it comes to employee development, one size does not fit all. One worker might be motivated by a structured course, while another might prefer to attend multiple sessions at an industry conference. To get the biggest benefit for your business, allow your employees to choose their own adventure. Start by setting a budget, and then sit down with each person to pick classes or workshops that benefit both the worker and your company.
Once your continuing education program is up and running, it’s important to offer support. If an employee is taking a class at a community college, allow them to flex their work schedule to accommodate travel time or exams. Ask them to present what they learned at conferences, or take them out to coffee to discuss how to use their new skills in the office. By offering a listening ear and helping them manage the extra work, you can make it easier for workers to balance learning with their job responsibilities.
Creating educational opportunities for your employees takes time and money, but it pays off in loyalty and skill. With a personalized program, you can build a powerful, dedicated team.