Hard work alone is not the only ingredient to building a star team of employees. If you want your team to excel (and who doesn’t), add on-the-job training to the mix. Continual education and learning is one of the best ways you can set your team and company up for a long legacy of success.
No matter the money or time spent on education, on-the-job training does not just benefit your employees; it’s also an investment for your company.
Education means workers will be more effective and informed, which will have a direct impact on your projects. Not only that, but training and development programs make a real difference in how attractive your workplace is to new employees — a very important competitive edge in understaffed industries like construction. A PWC study found training and development is the third most important factor for millennial job hunters, and on-the-job education also leads to greater rates of retention. Finally, education can help you identify future leaders within your team, something which will be very important as baby boomer team members continue to retire.
It comes down to this: education is important for you and your employees. Here’s how to make it simple for all team members to take advantage of learning opportunities.
The best way to ensure all team members are able to learn is to make it easy for them to do so. This may sound like a given, but you’d be surprised how many employers offer rigid and irrelevant education programs.
The first way to make learning easy and effective is to personalize education for each employee. Even if your company has three dozen employees with the exact same job title, each of those people will have a slightly different set of goals and trajectory they’d like their career to take. Your company can’t assume everyone will want to work towards the same outcome. Sit down with new hires and existing staff for an employee check-in — ask what goals they’d like to achieve and how they see themselves getting there. Employees who set their own goals will be much more invested in accomplishing them.
As a best practice, managers should also know the company’s goals. By first sharing that direction with employees, team members will be able to incorporate the company’s plan into their own personal education goals. You should also have a sense of budget and time available for education — being upfront with staff about these constraints or freedoms will help employees set realistic learning goals.
Second, accessing education for all employees will be much easier if you make that learning flexible. Offer the opportunity to learn from home, or provide flex days where a team member can take half the day for training. If that education will cut into an employee’s personal time, consider incentivizing the learning. Offering a prize when an employee reaches a set number of training hours can work, as can departmental competitions to see who logs the most hours.
The last way to make learning easy is to invest in a learning management system. There’s nothing worse than having employees sign up for an education opportunity only to discover it’s ineffective and disorganized. LMS are proven to sort out this mess. Surveys have found that a LMS can lead to higher course completion rates and are a 45% more cost effective way to manage employee education.
A centralized learning system will also allow employees to learn at their own pace, a benefit they may not get from a single classroom training session. This will go a long way in making access to continuous education fair for all team members. Finally, a LMS allows a company to effectively track an employee’s progress, identify pain points, and celebrate their successes as they complete training.
Industries are always changing; that’s why your employee education cannot be rigid and out-of-date. Continuous learning will battle the issue of expired education. Rather than looking at education as a bi-annual or once-a-year opportunity, build monthly (or even weekly) training opportunities into your strategic plan and schedule. Asking your own employees to do some of the teaching is an excellent way to empower trainers, cut costs, and build expert role models that other team members can look up to and ask for help.
If it’s a topic outside the expertise of your team, have current experts in the field come to do training. This is a better way to engage staff, and will ensure the most up-to-date information is being presented — much more effective than purchasing educational materials that may no longer be relevant.
Industry changes don’t just come in the form of technological advancements and new regulations. Across all industries, the most progressive companies are ones that value soft skills training, in addition to technical education. That means continuous education doesn’t strictly have to be technical. Creating a peer mentoring program will build leadership and communication skills within your teams, and team building exercises and staff retreats help employees recognize the unique abilities each of their coworkers brings to the table. A team that better understands and communicates with one another is able to have more impact, regardless of the industry.
Ultimately, ongoing training creates a culture of learning in the workplace, and will institutionalize an employee’s desire to learn and grow — that will benefit their career just as much as it will the company.