"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." ~ Benjamin Franklin
You’re not likely to find many people that disagree with Ol’ Ben, but when it comes to providing education for employees, a lot of companies earn a failing grade.
Throughout my years as a corporate educator, I’ve heard a common refrain: Education is a nice thing to have, but not something you need. But that’s simply not true, and that attitude in the IT services provider space could lead to companies losing employees and potentially customers.
Investing in education pays great dividends in terms of more engaged, more loyal employees who can do more for your customers. Keeping that in mind, here’s a look at five education trends impacting the IT market and why solution providers should make training a top priority:
Shortage of IT Talent
It’s no secret that a shortage of skilled IT talent in the workplace is hindering the growth of many companies, a situation that poses a multitude of problems for many managed service providers trying to expand their offerings and customer base.
To counter, companies should be investing in education for their current employees, or risk falling behind the competition. After all, education is not a one-time event. To become — and stay — a very successful company, learning needs to become a habit. But sending people off for training simply isn’t enough.
Increasingly, companies want to ensure their educational investments are paying off. Innovations in online learning allow management to track employees’ progress and hold them accountable for the content they should be learning. Your ability to hold someone accountable for their educational progress reassures you that when someone is given an assignment they are prepared to execute on it and help your company succeed.
Investing in Technology
All the latest and greatest technology in the world is only as good as the people who are running it. You can have a fabulous new software platform to run your business, but if no one understands how to use it, it’s no more than shelfware. Identify your critical business processes and ensure that your people know how to respond to changes in the market with the applications and tools you provide. Move your tech skills around if necessary to maximize production from all your resources.
As a software provider, that’s our ultimate goal at Tigerpaw too: Notify customers about what’s coming next, what they should be looking for in their own businesses and then provide the proper tools and training to help them better utilize the applications. Their success is our success.
Coaching and Mentoring
One of the most effective — and cost effective — means to keep employees motivated and learned is to create a system of coaches and mentors among your staff. The more resources you have to back each other up, the better. Information and processes should not be single-threaded and no one employee should be a bottleneck if they leave or are absent.
Coaching and mentoring helps foster collaboration and teamwork among employees, while at the same time serving the larger purpose of keeping your company running smoothly — no matter who is out of the office.
For most corporations, education historically has been a one-size-fits-all model. Everybody learned everything (or was supposed to) and the company had to sort through the weeds to identify who knew what in order to put the right resources in the right places.
Today, there are personalized, customizable education options that allow you to target specific employees to learn only what is most pertinent to their position and for their development. In other words, employees get to actually learn the things they need for their jobs! Everybody’s time is precious these days and it doesn’t help a company to train employees on a feature or function that they will never use. Creating a more personalized plan is much better use of resources and can help accelerate the learning or onboarding process for new business software or operations.
Mobile Platforms Reshape Education
The advent of smartphones and tablets now lets employees learn when and where they have the time. No longer are students tied to a PC during a standardized time to take a course. In addition, many courses now are designed in a modular, user-friendly format that makes content more easily digestible. Instead of trying to find two free hours to digest some content, employees can check off a section or module in the 15 minutes they have between service engagements. Many employees want to study on their own time and making information accessible from mobile devices and in smaller chunks makes it more easily consumable and easier to retain the information.
Take the First Step
Overall, education can serve as the lifeblood your business. The more employees learn, the more engaged they are and the easier it is to retain them. When you’re developing a curriculum for your own employees, look to redefine processes to make learning easier for them.
Again, education is not a one-time event, but an investment worthwhile. Happy learning!