Updated: February 4, 2023
And why the professional development of your employees is an investment worth making.
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Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor
6 min read
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“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to,” Richard Branson famously said. With a rapidly changing world — and rapidly evolving technology — helping employees adapt and retrain to keep their skills marketable has never been more important.
A poll from the Stanford Center on Longevity found that 59 percent of professionals surveyed strongly agree with the statement that they expect their employers to provide educational opportunities to advance their careers. The strongest support came from younger professionals (18-29 years old), 71 percent of whom agreed with the statement.
Workers want their employee education from you
Interestingly, the workplace is one of the major areas where people expect this retraining to happen. More people (33 percent) expect their current or future employers to be more important sources of continuing education than traditional education organizations or government programs.
According to a recent survey from Instructure, 70 percent of employees say they would likely leave their current employer to take an offer from a company known for employee educational assistance — a number that climbs to about 80 percent for the key 25-44 age demographic.
So, how can you feed your team members’ desires for the knowledge to keep their skills up-to-date? Here are nine employee education programs, resources or learning-related activities that entrepreneurs can offer to satisfy that need.
1. LinkedIn learning
LinkedIn is far more than an online resume and business publishing platform. LinkedIn Learning is the site’s educational arm and offers a wide variety of courses in everything from data science, to the Microsoft Office suite, to coding and app design, to blogging with hundreds of courses under each umbrella catering to all skill levels.
2. New York Times or Wall Street Journal subscriptions
What better place to learn about business than the two periodicals from the epicenter of American business. In an age of increasingly stripped-down, soundbite journalism, these papers are known for their strong reporting, quality writing and applying it to coverage of the business world. With subscriptions starting at $1 per week for a year of the New York Times, it’s also a cost-effective way to provide educational benefits to employees.
Where can you grow your skill set with the help of leaders of top companies like Google, Zendesk, Squarespace and EventBrite? Reforge is a subscription-based repository of information on subjects such as growth, experimentation, monetization and strategy. Reforge’s course offerings are typically geared toward employees in technology startups. If you are on a career path toward management in a startup or if you are currently the founder of a startup that is seeking growth, Reforge is for you.
4. General Assembly
General Assembly offers a wide variety of tech-related courses in cities all over the U.S.. and the world, from Atlanta, to San Francisco, to Melbourne, to Singapore. Its site lets you browse courses on coding Python, data science, user experience design, consumer behavior, voice interaction, writing pitches and social media. Courses can be filtered by the cities in which they are offered.
5. Product School
Product School offers on-site and online courses specifically focused on product management, with the goal of becoming a certified product manager. On-site courses are given all over North America as well as Latin America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Product School’s instructors work at companies such as Tinder, Netflix, Airbnb and Spotify.
GrowthXAcademy offers online courses in three distinct learning paths: sales and business development, growth marketing and UX design. What makes GrowthXAcademy unique is that the students who participate in the courses work on real projects for real companies along with a team of instructors, mentors, investors and student peers making it part course, part on-the-job-esque training. Participating companies in GrowthXAcademy’s unique training programs include DropBox, SurveyMonkey, Grammarly and Wells Fargo.
7. Yearly conference budget
Conferences are valuable educational opportunities because people often learn more when they gather together. The learning extends far beyond the academic because of valuable industry information discussed as well as networking that can lead to partnerships in the future. Sometimes businesses shy away from conferences due to the travel, accommodation and meal expenses involved. But those expenditures can be minimized with a little strategic planning. Booking conferences early can save money on the fees, while booking travel and hotel accommodations early can reduce that pain. Often, conferences make arrangements with hotels for special group rates.
8. Monthly book club
A book club is an effective, low-cost way to keep employees engaged in learning. It accomplishes employee training through reading, but also through the exchange of ideas among peers at the organization. With the advent of iBooks, Audible and Kindle, both the access to and the reading of books has been streamlined. They can be purchased instantly and read on the train or subway or listened to in your car. And there is no shortage of subject matter on almost any industry.
9. Bringing in speakers
An interesting speaker can bring many employee benefits to your company. They can inspire workers by bringing relatable experience in solving problems from different perspectives. They can bring employees who have drifted away from the direction the company is heading back into alignment with the organization’s mission. Having different but relevant speakers come to talk to team members can reinvigorate them so they become more engaged in their work and in their interaction with others.
Knowledge is Power
Giving your full-time, part-time, and even new employees access to knowledge, regardless of the delivery system, gives them the power to improve themselves and by extension, your company. The professional development of your employees is an investment worth making.