It has been said, that a knowledgeable employee is a valuable one, and it is also commonly known that a well-treated employee is a happy one. Research shows that offering competitive benefits and fostering employee development are two of the top ways to keep skilled employees and build loyalty.
Developing a strong continual education program accomplishes both of these objectives and provides an employer with increased productivity and performance from an educated staff.
It’s important to differentiate between creating a continuing education program and a CONTINUAL education program. All too often the status quo of continuing education calls for taking occasional courses to meet requirements. “Continual learning” on the other hand, replaces the mindset of meeting requirements with a measurable, ongoing, collaborative culture that encourages progressive learning and constant growth.
This interactive learning results in better material retention and real-world application. A well-conceived and contentiously implemented program of continual education raises the bar for learning, thereby improving individual job performance and overall operations.
Here are 10 easy steps to help you create such a program:
1 – Ensure quality. Quality over quantity, as the saying goes. Make sure that compliance to regulatory standards and content quality are the first priority.
2 – Include everyone. Too many organizations include only those employees in positions that REQUIRE continuing education. Build a culture of continual learning that includes everyone.
3 – Make it interactive, convenient, and easy to use. The ability to access full features of an e-learning program on multiple devices is expected in today’s culture. In addition to this, the more interactive the program is, the more valuable it’s considered. Make certain the program is user-friendly and performs well to ensure frequent use and engagement.
4 – Create a standardized curriculum. Defeat the random course mentality and create a program of study with measurable goals, objectives, rewards, and recognition.
5 – Extend your program beyond courses. Some of the best learning opportunities come from peer-to-peer sharing. Find ways to incorporate discussion so your employees can contribute to each other’s learning experiences.
6 – Customize the experience for your organization. Add content that is specific to your organization or facility. Spend a little extra, if necessary, to create a personalized learning environment.
7 – Build in incentives. Drive your culture change by including performance recognition, providing rewards, and creating internal competitions.
8– Manage your cost. Traditional continuing education is expensive. Most operations spend more than they think in hidden costs of travel, time off for attending live events, replacing employees, etc. Building your own training program can be costly, but will save you money in comparison and bring you a long-term return on investment.
9 – Brand your program. Customized branding makes it your own, demonstrating a commitment to fostering employee development and thereby building employee loyalty.
10 – Don’t go it alone. Find a partner company that can provide the tools to make it convenient and cost-effective to establish, continually develop, and administer your program. This will significantly reduce your cost.
How do YOU create a culture of continual learning for your employees?
Are you interested in a continual education program for water and wastewater professionals but not sure where to start? Give us a call at Water Otter, we’ll walk you through it!
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