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Continuing Education a tool for employee engagement

We live in interesting and uncertain times. One minute we are in lock down, the next minute we are let out only to be made nervous by the number of increasing covid19 cases that are being contracted. However, the world continues to move along, some limping others walking and some running as best as they can.

Today we will be looking at continuing education especially in the work place. In all of this we must still make sure that the staff are engaged.

Employees now more than ever understand the importance of continuing education. They understand that this leads to growth opportunities, a lack of which leads to a high turnover. In a survey of millennials in America, (sorry no such survey in Nigeria), 87% say professional development is important in a job. They are increasing in the workforce and they value continuing education more than other generations.

Below are some tips for employers who want to keep their team engaged even if all they have is a small budget. First, recognise the value and make training a high priority at all levels of the company.

Read Also: Five tried and tested ways to keep employees engaged

The organisation needs to encourage their people to be very interested in continuing education by explaining the benefits. There is the obvious benefit of knowledge from the coursework but also the professional benefits are very important.

Senior management should show their teams how much they treasure constantly learning by modelling the behaviour themselves. They need to take an interest in their own education and be an example of what the organisation expects. Sharing their own professional development experiences and resources while encouraging employees to do the same will set a tone and encourage others to want to follow their lead.

HRM or senior management can look for great online classes that discuss topics in the fields represented in the organisation. Someone should have run through the course to be sure it is worth it.

Time can be scheduled to enable employees catch up on their study or assignments. A few hours a week can be given, especially if it is digital on- line training. This is during normal working hours.

The organisation can offer a development stipend that employees can use in a variety of ways to continue their education, including an on-line courses, in-person courses or conferences. This shows the organisation’s willingness to invest in employee growth and continual education.

The opportunity for upward mobility in the company, along with the potential for fiscal bonuses and raises is great encouragement. Saying continuing education will be good for building a team of skilful and self-sufficient professionals may not always be enough to encourage employees to participate.

Attending conferences (during working hours) with both senior staff and the employees encourages continual education. At a conference, the employees get the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways such as listening to a keynote speaker, participating in workshops and speaking to top professionals in the industry. A conference is a fun way for employees to learn new things and it’s great for team bonding as well

Those who have attended the conference can then come back to feed the ones who did not attend back. Nothing complicated just a report about the conference, noting what they learned, contacts they made and what was of the greatest interest to the organisation.

Saying continuing education will be good for building a team of skilful and self-sufficient professionals may not always be enough to encourage employees to participate

Encourage the attendance at local networking events during working hours. If there are no networking events your organisation can actually create some. Make it a tgif event. Networking may not be formal training but it helps with knowledge sharing.

Instead of offering only formalised training courses with tests and questions at the end, organisations can make learning part of their workday in the work environment. When training or education is more centred on action rather than research, employees will be more likely to participate and succeed.

Then you ensure there is a system laid down of the available trainings, when they fall due and who should give and receive them. This has to be connected to performance management and remuneration. It is important to create a culture of accountability to ensure that people are continuously giving and receiving training. At each appraisal there has to be training goals clearly stated.

The beauty of our times is that there is a lot of free and paid training on line. This eradicates the cost of physical trainings that may involve travel, accommodation and feeding costs. Now the same course even if paid for, costs a lot less than before. Some of the course creators online might also for a small fee customise their training for an organisation.

I hope this has encouraged you and that you will be getting more training yourself. Let employees know that this is something no one can take from them. Have a great weekend.

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