The Value of Educating Your Employees

By Kenneth Surbrugg, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Missouri Southern State University

Ben Franklin said it best, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Companies always seem to be looking for good employees who will be loyal, honest, dependable, and understand the company’s culture. Yet, many companies invest very little in educating their workforce. They hire individuals who have some industry related work experience or education and never really try to improve the skills of these individuals. They want their staff to be productive, but they don’t do much to assist them in this effort. The owners and managers of these same companies wonder why they have high turnover and are constantly looking for new employees.

Even with good hiring practices, methodical interviews, and thorough background checks, you still can’t assume the people you hire will have the skills they need to operate in a productive manner.

According to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, “It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.” Good advice.

Educating and training your personnel does take time, money, and planning. However, there isn’t another investment that will do more to improve productivity in your firm than to educate your workforce on a continual basis. The benefit of education far outweighs the cost in the long run.

Business owners, managers, and employees need to have good customer service skills, understand marketing and sales techniques, utilize good communication skills, analyze financial statements, and possess quality control expertise. Some businesses fail, or do not expand as quickly as they should, because owners and employees haven’t been effectively trained.

In order to have a productive work environment, your company should have a strategic plan in place for continuous professional development for each owner, manager and employee.  Make continuing education a priority. Maintain a training budget that will be used to help educate your employees on an on-going basis. Effective employee training programs keep all staff members up-to-date about current policies, procedures, and technology used in their company.  What steps can your company take to ensure you are educating and training your employees in an effective manner?

First, assess the skills needed to effectively operate and grow your company.  Are there new regulatory changes or technological changes in your industry?  What skills, knowledge, and training will your workers need to continue to do their jobs effectively?  Do you have a new employee orientation program?

Second, periodically examine the skill levels of owners, managers, and employees. Do you need to hire someone with some unique expertise to expand your company?  How do you want your customers treated? Who will have access to the company’s different social media platforms? What role will they have with the company’s social media? Does your staff know how to maintain high quality control standards? What certifications can your workers obtain that will help differentiate your company from the competition?

Third, evaluate your employee training and education options. Can you provide on-the-job training for your staff? Will you need to send them to specialized workshops or certification programs to obtain the latest skills? Examine specialized training sponsored by industry trade associations. Check out distance learning education offered through universities via the Internet. For example, Missouri Southern State University offers diverse courses and degrees online.

Fourth, seek information about government-sponsored  training or employee training reimbursement programs. Contact your area job center office to learn more about these opportunities.

Fifth, evaluate the training programs your company has implemented. Are you providing training in a cost-effective manner that enables employees to improve their effectiveness on the job and make your company more profitable?

Sixth, reward people for utilizing the skills they have learned. Set up a bonus system in which your employees are rewarded for improving the profitability of your company.  This will help to increase employee loyalty and keep those well-trained people working for your company instead of the competition. Reimburse employees for educational expenses and reward them for furthering their formal education.

According to Gandhi, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Work to develop and implement a plan that will enable everyone in your firm to improve their skills and ensure the longevity and profitability of your business. As Henry Ford said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

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