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Employee training

For good work performance, you need good knowledge and good tools. The management should closely follow the needs for new knowledge in the company and inspire employees to educate themselves and share the knowledge.

Employee training

Source: Rawpixel

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." –Benjamin Franklin

When buying a home appliance, you surely want to inquire about the brand and where was it manufactured. Factories differ substantially in the scope and quality of knowledge that goes into production of specific appliances. Whenever you need a service or want the work to be done properly, you make sure to find someone who does the job well and with great responsibility. For instance, you avoid auto mechanics who fail to know all the intricacies of your car. And another instance: you don't put your trust into a doctor fearing the possibility of misdiagnosis due to insufficient expertise.

The same is true for any kind of work. Only workers equipped with good knowledge are good workers. For people who fail to upgrade their knowledge we say that they are "stuck in a time-warp". They work in an outdated way. They don't know how to use appropriate tools and might have no idea how to do things better and faster. They simply fail to deliver the same results as adequately educated and trained workers.

Recruitment of suitable talent

When you are recruiting, it is extremely important that you find good talent with corresponding education and knowledge. If you need someone to wait tables in a restaurant, you probably won't hire someone with a PhD in philosophy. A person well-trained in serving foods and drinks is the best one to do this this kind of job. If you need someone to perform simple manual work, it is usually better and more successful to train the person on the job instead of enrolling them in a formal education program. On the other hand, for highly professional work, you need to hire talent with adequate education and expertise. But how can you hire well-educated workers when we find it difficult to attract good talent? One way is to apply appropriate scholarship policy, or you may introduce appropriate compensation model and provide good working conditions. You can never overcompensate a good worker.

Training for a specific job

At the time of starting the employment, the worker usually has some general professional knowledge of the work to be performed. Nevertheless, every job also requires some high specialization. This means that the new worker needs enough time to become familiarized with specifics and requirements of the new job. The new worker will need to learn certain new knowledge and take into account certain requirements related to the job, but will also add some of their own personality and creativity. New workers need an opportunity to apply their experience from previous jobs and existing knowledge to the work process in the new job. New worker should be welcomed by the existing team and be helped in adapting to the environment. It is also good for your current employees to learn from your new team members. Surely, everyone can bring some new knowledge to the table.

Permanent education goals

In addition to introducing a new worker to the work process at the new job, you have to keep up with ever expanding professional advances and new technologies. Some professions require people to annually attend professional development seminars and exhibition fairs as scientific research, knowledge and technology trends grow very quickly. Those who fail to do so surely lag behind. Reading a professional journal whenever encountering it by chance is not enough – professionals need to follow publications in multiple languages from different parts of the world. Only continuous permanent education, including also fields where no substantial breakthrough has been done for years, will enable your company to use excellent tools and provide excellent services. Oftentimes, new knowledge will also enable you to reduce your work process costs, thus protecting your competitive advantage.

Methods of on-the-job training

There's a difference between induction training upon starting a new job and permanent education while working the job.

When starting a new job, the new employee will be welcomed by a mentor. No one should be left to their own devices and denied induction training in their new workplace. The mentor should be someone who possesses appropriate knowledge, qualities and skills, so that they can pass on the needed knowledge. The mentor has to be a good teacher. Besides the mentor, other team members should also help the newly hired employee. A good work environment where people help each other out facilitates fast and good exchange of knowledge. Everybody can learn from new employees, as well. Sincerity, respect and genuine desire for company's success are the best foundation for the transfer of knowledge.

The newly hired employee has to be truly interested in specific features of the new job. Everyone struggles at first, and this is especially true for new employment. The newly hired needs to put in extra time to understand the tasks that need to be done. Especially in the beginning, it is unbecoming to keep checking the time and counting the minutes before leaving to go home. Earnest self-education endeavors are simply a must.

Specialized publications must be available to every employee. But when can your employees study these publications? Working hours are usually too busy for such activity. And employees find it unacceptable to use their free time for work-related study. The best solution is to combine the two options. Genuinely interested worker will be willing to act for the benefit of their employer also in their free time while developing their professional qualifications at the same time. Employees may distribute the responsibility to study specialized literature and then discuss the news and point out interesting things to each other.

Similar approach can be applied to professional development seminars, conferences, fairs and other learning events outside company. Participation in such events must not be considered a reward but rather an important activity required for employees to learn new knowledge and technology. Having attended a seminar, fair or conference, the participant should make a summary presentation to colleagues. A convenient way to do this is an internal learning event to enable colleagues to learn something new in a faster and cost-efficient way.

The management may enroll specifically interested workers in part-time study. Keen to learn, these students will quickly build the knowledge that will be put to good use in the company. Study programs update regularly, and new knowledge is thus always available. Part time study should not be the motivation for job promotion where the new knowledge will not be needed any more. The purpose is to use this knowledge at the current job or position.

How to motivate people for permanent education?

People tend to follow the path of least resistance thinking, "Why would I do it if it's not necessary?" They tend to think that those who work less are better off. It's difficult to sacrifice one's own free time for work-related activities.

It's important that employees identify with the company. They need to feel at home when they're at work. Those who love their company would do everything for its benefit. Those who feel responsible know that the company is only as good as its workers. Any excuse that something is a consequence of the past, management, authorities or government … is irrelevant. Simply do what you can and everything will be much better. Set an example and others will follow.

If you don't engage in permanent education, your knowledge will become obsolete. It's quite unpleasant to hear from a new colleague that something is not done like this anymore as there are new tools that can be used. The desire to maintain your expertise should be a strong driving force for knowledge. Naturally, the company should adequately reward those who update their knowledge regularly. People who possess a large amount of specific knowledge should be head of department in order to lead, guide and monitor the work of the entire team.

Co-workers usually like to spend some time together also when not at work. Permanent education and attending a variety of seminars, fairs and conferences enables them to bond more, socialize and meet other people in the same profession or industry. When in doubt, they can ask a friend or a colleague from the same profession working in another company. This is how knowledge exchange between organizations takes place.

Obstacles to education

1. On the management side

Not all training is equal in terms of importance to the company. The management has to decide which kind of training is of utmost importance, suitable or maybe totally unnecessary. The decision may be based on subjective reasons and may even harm organization's interests.

Training and education also entail certain costs for the company, at least at the time it takes place. Fees and tuition may be quite high. When attending seminars and fairs, there are travel costs involved, and when the event spans multiple days, additional costs for stay and daily allowance are incurred. Many companies allocate a budget for employee training and education. When the budget is exhausted, no additional training is available to employees.

Training means that a worker will be away at least for a while. This holds up work processes in the company. Some workers are so busy and indispensable that employer won't even let them attend a workshop.

2. On the employee side

There are employees who find very little sense in attending a learning event. There are also people who worry that they will need to present what they have learned to colleagues. On the other hand, some people may say that there's no need for learning, but usually they are just afraid of any change. If the same methods worked for decades, they will be good enough also in the future, they may comment. Some employees avoid any learning event taking more than one day because they have family. Single-parent families may find it difficult to arrange someone to take care of their small children. And for some people, their partner relationship may be the cause of their reluctance.

Permanent education influences company's success

"You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best", once said Steve Jobs. People who master their job have a high degree of satisfaction. They have high self-esteem because they know that they are efficient and successful. Managers are also pleased with good and professionally qualified workers. A company who has qualified and educated people will have very few weak points. Workers know what is right and how to do things well, which decreases the need for supervision. Only companies with proficient workers can be successful. The quality of completed work is high and costs are low as there are very few errors, and the work is done in the shortest time possible. This is how masters do their job.

A worker with obsolete or inadequate knowledge may do more harm than good. Without permanent education, there can be no success for the company. Companies that try to cut costs in education and training are actually cutting their power line.

Employers fear that well-educated talent will leave

Anxiety regarding the best people quitting is valid if general sentiment in the company is negative. In such case, your workers will leave even if you don't provide education and training to them. On the other hand, it's quite natural for some workers to transit from one company to another. Everyone likes to prove their worth with their knowledge and results of their work. If the organization fails to provide such opportunities, the worker will seek opportunities and promotion somewhere else. The sense of being important to the company is the thing that makes people stay. Personal commitment to the company is what creates an atmosphere conducive to nurturing the desire for learning and mutual help, resulting in people being happy with their success. On the other hand, education possibilities boost commitment to the company. When workers feel powerless because of their obsolete and inadequate knowledge, they feel existential fears. This makes them seize every opportunity to go somewhere else where they can advance their knowledge and feel that they are important to the company.

Summary

For good work performance, you need good knowledge and good tools. Someone with real mastery may achieve good results despite poor tools and work conditions. The other way around is not possible. Without adequate knowledge, even the best tools will be of no use.

To a certain extent, people can learn simple work processes on-the-job. A good worker needs solid knowledge obtained in appropriate schools and through permanent education after joining the company. You should never feel sorry for time and money spent on learning. Naturally, not every kind of training is suitable for a specific job. The management should closely follow the needs for new knowledge in the company and inspire employees to educate themselves and share the knowledge.

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Authors

Nataša Centa, BSc in Education, Mathematics and Physics, expert in HRM digitization by means of modern IT-solutions, Product Manager at Četrta pot, d.o.o., Kranj

Mojca Hafner Jereb, Bachelor in Organizational Management specializing in IT, consultant and expert for the implementation of Time and Attendance information systems, Product Management Assistant in Četrta pot, d.o.o, Kranj


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