Learn how creating an employee education plan can guide your company’s future success
Despite this year’s upheavals, the need for ongoing employee learning has not disappeared…in fact, it has become even more important than ever. Now is an excellent time to either review or create an employee education plan for your company. A well-structured approach to ongoing professional learning creates a strong basis of shared organizational knowledge and employee empowerment. Your employees’ skills, knowledge, experience and values are what determine the current ability and future potential of your enterprise.
Why create an employee education plan?
You’ve probably already identified whatever mandatory trainings your industry requires, but what about training that goes beyond compliance? Such trainings can help prevent accidents and enhance the ability of your workforce to perform tasks safely and efficiently. Industry-specific certifications or other designations can boost your team’s professional acumen, taking them to the next level of job competency. Offering educational opportunities can strengthen your current workforce and make your company an attractive option for new job seekers. These are just a few of the many reasons to create an employee education plan.
Every plan needs buy-in
If your company doesn’t already have a formal employee education plan in place, the first step is to generate buy-in at all levels to overcome any obstacles that may stand in the way. Here are a few items to consider when attempting to secure buy-in for your plan:
There may be some costs associated with creating an employee education plan, though these can be offset in a variety of ways. Framing your training efforts as an investment rather than expense can help management see the potential dividends in increased employee productivity, confidence, professionalism, diversified skill sets and so on.
Training does not have to be contracted out to a third party at cost. It can be provided by employees, for employees. The benefits of cross-training cannot be overstated:
- It creates an agile workforce that understands their organizational hierarchy, able to fill any gap at a moment’s notice.
- It enhances interpersonal dealings. Employees will more accurately understand and appreciate the different challenges and stressors that their coworkers encounter in each role.
Efforts to create an employee education plan can be greatly assisted by a company culture that values life-long learning. It’s important to get an accurate read on prevailing attitudes among your staff to determine whether a cultural shift is needed or not. While some employees may be openly enthusiastic, others may be reluctant to admit that they lack certain skills. Other employees may resent the implication that their current skills are inadequate or strongly believe they don’t require additional training. Still others may view training that doesn’t directly pertain to their role or day-to-day duties as a waste of time.
A company culture that embraces learning can help assuage or remove many of these roadblocks. Employing the mantra “learn something new every day” can be a helpful touchstone for these efforts. Managers should highlight the benefits of regularly acquiring new knowledge and communicate that they view an ongoing interest in learning as a desirable trait for any employee, regardless of role.
Related: How to reduce on-the-job injuries
How to create an employee education plan
Identify your organization’s needs
Acquiring insight into what will best benefit your company is a must. Questions you will need to address include:
- What trainings are most needed? The possibilities are endless, but you’ll want to focus your efforts to maximize your results. Start by identifying the areas where your team requires the most improvement. Consider soft skills such as emotional intelligence, hard skills like basic computer handling, or workplace safety such as preventing falls.
- How will trainings be delivered? Gather input from your team regarding what training methods they prefer. This will determine which strategies will be most effective. Should the training occur in groups or individually, via lecture or self-study materials?
- What kind of schedule is required? Monthly staff meetings are effective when staff keeps the same schedule, but may be impossible if employee shifts constantly change. Whatever the case, determine a schedule that will best suit your organization, then stick to it.
Consider what expectations are realistic, especially if you’re introducing an employee education plan for the first time. This increases the odds of your efforts being effective in the long run, rather than fizzling out several months in. Keep things simple, at least to start, and expand as you gain more insight towards how your team learns best.
It is important to set goals to benchmark progress, but goals should be specific, measurable, and realistic. Let’s say your goal is for all employees to view a 10-minute training video and complete a short quiz on a new topic every quarter. This goal meets all three criteria:
- It specifically outlines exactly what’s expected and what the parameters of completion are.
- It measures the number of employees who view the video and complete the quiz by the deadline, determining whether or not success was achieved.
- It’s reasonable for employees to view a video and complete a quiz once every three months, in addition to their regular duties.
The world is rapidly changing, and many industries will have to learn quickly in order to keep up. A well-trained workforce is a key asset in accomplishing objectives, keeping organizations on the leading edge of innovation. Creating an employee education plan today can help guide your company’s success well into the future.
This article originally appeared in Arrowhead’s Tribal blog. It has been modified and updated to better reflect the needs of Valiant’s producers and their clients.