By Kristin Pine
Yesterday’s Advisor presented the beginning of an article by Kristin Pine, the director of Training & Education for Peabody Properties, Inc., on committing to continuing employee education. Today we present the conclusion of her article.
To keep your audience engaged, especially for a full-day training session, make sure you have a comfortable room available, and schedule several short breaks throughout the day. Provide great coffee, offer comfort foods for snacks, bring in catering as needed at mealtime, and plan on fun background details, like music during lunch, related games with prizes, and signed “Certificates of Completion.” Finish with either a paper or online survey as a method of follow-up. A quality training program depends on valuable and honest feedback from its students in order to grow and enhance your overall program. Find out what worked, what didn’t, and what could be done better. Finishing touch: Provide a list of recommended materials for further study to help improve material digestion of the subject matter, as well as to enhance the overall educational impact of the experience.
The range of topics that can be addressed in continuing employee education is practically limitless and can be customized to an individual organization. Find topics that meet the interests of employees, help further your organization’s mission and core values, promote new business, sustain your existing book of business, embrace technology, and help to develop new leaders to name just a few. Compliance, customer service, greening and sustainability initiatives, and workplace safety are some topics that an organization might decide to focus on, given their short- and long-term goals.
Once your curriculum is determined, it’s important to develop a recognition plan for training completion and achievements. Recognition plans not only encourage training, but they help to identify and foster a culture of lifelong learners who strive for excellence within your organization. Set educational goals, perhaps across departments or divisions, recognize when these goals are reached, and make a concerted effort to bring attention to your team members through public events and other media opportunities (i.e., internal newsletters, press releases, or recognition at staff meetings) on recent employee accomplishments.
For organizations that either don’t offer in-house training, or only offer a limited number of classes, be mindful and recognize the value of sending employees to external training opportunities. By offering tuition reimbursement as part of your company benefits, or an annual educational allotment awarded to every employee, an organization can create a plan of funding allocated toward improving its existing workforce year after year.
Training programs are also a great recruitment tool—especially for attracting high-potential employees who are perceived as “self-starters” interested in personal growth and professional development. Where in other organizations, employees might have to practically beg for training, a robust in-house training program helps to attract the right kind of employees for an organization firmly establishing its reputation as an “employer of choice.” Keeping a strong focus on continuing education acts as a great retention tool. Employees will understand that there is a path toward future growth and opportunities for success at their organization due in large part through the benefit of training. Continuing education becomes the vehicle for employers to reach these opportunities.
By developing training that meets the needs of your team members, an organization can go beyond reinforcing goals and truly demonstrate their commitment to professional development and career growth while, in turn, identifying your real “superstars”—your high-performers and self-starters who are hungry to learn and grow. A commitment to continuing education cultivates an infectious environment that encourages others to follow in the footsteps of more experienced associates who act as role models who reap the benefits and strive for excellence. Companies with a dedicated commitment to reinvesting in their employees will quickly realize that their greatest assets actually help position the organization for “smart growth” and surpass your competitors in the marketplace.
Kristin Pine is the director of Training & Education for Peabody Properties, Inc. (www.peabodyproperties.com). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.