Continuing Education: Everyone Wins

The cost of education involves time and money. Investing in training for your employees upgrades their skills, making them more innovative and productive, as well as more loyal to your business. You'll be helping your workers reach their full potential.

To keep costs under control, get creative by bringing mentors in-house, offering time off to take classes or supplementing tuition at a local college. Be prepared to pay your employees for their higher level of skills; don't squander your education investment by not providing an appropriate salary increase. Call a nearby large company that you know hosts corporate universities and ask whether you can arrange for your employees to attend any of its training sessions.

How to proceed

To help your employees advance their careers by acquiring new skills and retraining:

  • Arrange a face-to-face coaching or mentoring program at an external venue or your own offices, depending on group size. Consider an auditorium with hosted presentation-style teaching or more personalized one-on-one instruction.
  • Provide mentoring, where more experienced team members share knowledge with newer, less experienced employees to develop valuable skills.
  • Pay for online courses that provide a flexible and inexpensive learning experience. You may take the course yourself to see whether it's worth paying for and presenting to your workers.
  • Offer digital lessons and give workers an hour or two every other day to do their coursework during normal work hours.
  • Share resources you've found helpful and encourage employees to share what they've learned or are interested in learning more about, setting a tone and encouraging workers.
  • Offer a development stipend to help employees continue their education through online courses, in-person training, etc. Be willing to invest in your team's growth. Nothing motivates your employees like assisting in paying for classes and exams, partly or in full. Show how their upward mobility translates into the potential for fiscal bonuses and raises because of their hard work.
  • Encourage your employees to attend conferences. Accompany them to be a continuing education cheerleader. By participating in workshops and speaking to top professionals in the industry, your team will be learning fun new things and bonding as well.
  • Encourage your employees to attend local networking events during working hours so that your workforce members can gain industry knowledge as a group.
  • Ensure that training and education are centered on action. Employees will be more likely to participate and succeed.
  • Start a book club encouraging your team to grow professionally and personally. Books can offer productivity hacks and collaboration techniques, and keep employees abreast of the latest trends. Gather the team at regular meetings so everyone can share what they've read.
  • Put together a professional development library in a corner of the office or a bank of electronic resources with audiobooks, podcasts and videos, perhaps even with guides written by your business's senior managers. And don't overlook industry publications or online learning platforms.
  • Schedule lunchtime speakers — while the team eats, they can strengthen or develop their skills. The speaker can be from inside or outside the company. (You can boost attendance by providing lunch!)

Spend generously on continuing education with educational assistance for all employees or just professional and technical workers to take advantage of. Relationships are the foundation of social learning. Studies show that when individuals learn together, they learn more effectively. Tap into this power with group learning opportunities.