Continuing education in the workplace can be a challenge.
How do you inspire employees to take advantage of workplace education benefits?
How do you motivate change through learning and continued growth?
The task typically falls within the realm of HR-related activities and HR professionals may or may not know what the best approaches might be.
In some industries, continued education hours are required to remain certified or otherwise eligible to participate in the industry (the health care industry is an excellent example).
However, many other industries don’t have any requirements in place and HR or other business leaders may struggle with identifying how to encourage further education that’s not required.
So how do you get started?
From my experience on both sides of the equation, I suggest starting simple.
The following tips can be helpful in launching your continued education in the workplace.
Start with the Basics
One crucial step in early education is learning to read.
Reading then opens new avenues of learning and education.
Encouraging reading in the workplace can also open new avenues of learning.
Whether this occurs via a formal reading program (find tips on starting one here), informally via book clubs, or as individual suggestions to team members from managers can be determined based on workplace budgets and needs.
Consider starting with a company library and add a variety of titles related to your industry as well as general business improvement titles.
Add to it periodicals that help employees stay current with industry trends.
To cater to all learning types, try educating via other means as well.
Arrange for in-house lectures or partner with local higher educational institutions to sponsor relevant lectures.
There are also software and digital options for educating your workforce. Some incorporate gaming qualities to entice and entertain while teaching.
You can also help employees understand the value of education in their career paths and highlight ways they can market themselves with additional skills and training.
The easiest way to do this is to empower managers with the tools to help their employees grow and succeed in their current roles and encourage regular one-on-one meetings that allow for feedback.
In addition to reading and lectures, there is a wide variety of online courses (many of them free) that can help employees gain a specific skill.
To get an idea of the course offerings available, check out this list, which includes courses for programming, communicating, marketing and more.
A manager might suggest a course on communicating to an employee who will be making sales presentations to clients in the coming months to better prepare them or if an employee has recently been assigned to help with the company website but has minimal programming skills, they can suggest taking a course to strengthen those skills.
While it would be nice to see immediate change in workplace learning habits, realise it might not happen.
It takes time for mentalities and habits to change. Having company leaders endorse and set the example in workplace education can help, but it will take time to see results.
For example, in a survey regarding workplace financial education, programs were more likely to be successful the longer they were in place.
That said, don’t give up if changes take time to implement. Be frequent and consistent in your company messaging and make the tools and resources for continued education easily accessible.
If resources allow, you might also offer incentives to get employees interested. And those incentives don’t have to be monetary.
You might arrange a lunch with company leaders and those who are engaged or showing considerable progress in their continued education.
Build on Success
Find what works for your company and build on it.
Maybe tuition reimbursement options are popular among your employees, or you have good attendance at company-sponsored learning opportunities. Whatever works for your employees, strengthen it.
You can also tailor your programs based on responses from employees.
Perhaps individual software based training works for more frequent training and lectures at local institutions are something you host once or twice a year. Start simple and build on what works for your company and situation.
But the key is to get started.
Educating your workforce is a win-win for employees and employers. It can help employees feel engaged and help them progress toward promotions and it helps employers by giving them an engaged and constantly improving workforce.