Making Your Employees' Continuing Education a Priority

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Making Your Employees' Continuing Education a Priority

Knowledge and skills are ever-evolving entities. The knowledge a person possesses today will serve her today - but for how long into the future? It’s no surprise how rapidly information turns over in today’s world; expertise doesn’t last long before there’s something new to know.

Consider your employees… when each was hired, they knew what they needed to perform their duties. But at what point will the demands of their positions render them underqualified? Your employees’ knowledge can be lacking before you know it.

Why employees’ continuing education is important

That’s why continuing education is crucial for your employees. No business is going to flourish when its employees aren’t up to date on their knowledge and skill set. Individuals also make better employees and leaders when they have been trained in people-skills, like assertiveness, stress management and conflict resolution. Both are important: Industry and technical training keeps everyone’s knowledge fresh and consistent while training in personal development areas makes for happier, more engaged employees.

Some companies already see the value and have a comprehensive employee education plan that helps employees get the additional training they need to perform better. If your business doesn’t, you may want to consider doing what you can to assist your employees keep abreast of industry knowledge as well as learn valuable skills to help them be effective employees and coworkers.

Making it possible - and feasible - for employees to partake of continuing education

How you can help - even encourage - your employees to pursue continuing education:

1. Throw your support behind the idea. Become a staunch supporter of keeping skills honed, knowledge cutting edge and attitudes enlightened. It would be a powerful example if the boss herself made it known that she was, say, attending seminars or taking classes.

2. Stress a positive attitude about continuing education. You’re definitely not implying that anyone’s skills are lacking. The point is to stay sharp and on top of things so the team is empowered to do the best job they can. Emphasize the fact that a well-trained workforce is one that doesn’t become stale and complacent. You probably don’t want to make continuing education mandatory; but it is a powerful indicator of who on your payroll is deeply committed to personal and professional development.

3. Take the time to consider what types of continuing education could benefit your employees and your business. Be on the lookout for places where your company could improve and opportunities to remedy the situation. Urge employees’ to pitch educational avenues to you; they are likely to be acutely aware of what they don’t know or could benefit from. You may want to develop a more formal process whereby you weigh the benefits of an educational opportunity with an employee to determine in what ways it will benefit the company. If it meets certain criteria, you may offer to pay any costs involved (or at least help defray the employee’s out of pocket expenses).

4. Make certain continuing education doesn’t become a burden on your team. If you have employees missing work to attend classes or seminars, be certain that their duties are covered so as not to inconvenience other employees or disrupt productivity. Perhaps the employee taking classes can take on the responsibilities of the person who covered for her while that employee takes a turn in the classroom.

5. Allow employees to continue working -or at least drawing a paycheck - while training. Even if the time commitment limits her ability to work, few people can afford the luxury of an unpaid sabbatical to go to school. Work out some arrangement, like a decreased or deferred salary if necessary, to make it possible for her to obtain the training that will ultimately benefit your business.

Making concessions for your employees to continue their education is a worthwhile investment in your business and in the people who make it run day in and day out. It demonstrates that you value them as professionals and are dedicated to their growth potential, job satisfaction and job stability.

How do you make continuing education a priority for your employees?

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