Two of today’s critical employment trends make offering ongoing training crucial for business success:
- The job market is tight and finding outside qualified candidates is difficult, and
- Professional training is among the most highly valued employment benefits for Millennials.
Before I detail some excellent sources for ongoing education and training, let me also say that you would be wise to invest in yourself. Don’t let the hurly burly of running your business prevent you from acquiring greater knowledge and abilities — you’ll need them to take your company to its next levels of success.
And as a final word of management advice: Be sure your training aligns with your needs and also with the desires of your team members. Sometimes people take a job that isn’t an exact fit so they can get their foot in the door. They hope to be able to move to their preferred area one day soon.
This is where those “Where do you see yourself in five years?” conversations come in handy. For example, if you have someone in production who would eventually like to be in marketing, consider a training path in marketing rather than one in supervisorial skills.
There are many providers of online business courses today; so many, in fact that sorting them out can be overwhelming. That’s why I like Class Central.
Class Central is like an online clearing house for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It lists and categorizes MOOCs from colleges and universities around the world. Any topic you would expect to find at a major university is available, including, of course, business and technology courses.
I like Class Central because it uses the power of social proof. For example, you can browse its frequently updated list of the 50 most highly rated courses, where you’ll find some great classes designed to boost technical skills and data analysis. You can also quickly drill down to business courses.
Another great place for practical business courses is the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Learning Center. The emphasis here is more basic and especially helpful for anyone who is new to business management or entrepreneurism.
Related to the SBA are the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). There are offices all around the country; I’m sure you would find one within easy driving distance…and maybe just around the corner. They frequently offer on-site seminars, but also have a lot of “eLearning” courses. I checked out one area and found certifications in customer service, sales, marketing, and Quickbooks, among others.
Other sources for training include some of the major online businesses. Hubspot, for example, has a wide range of online training resources available in its Academy, and you don’t have to be a Hubspot customer to use them. Some of these lead to a certification, others simply deliver important information and help develop skills.
Grow with Google is the behemoth search engine’s effort to train us. Many, but not all, of the training tools offered here will help businesses. Knowing how to best leverage Google will help any business today and fortunately, Google provides a lot of great information.
More Formal Training Resources
Two-year and four-year colleges around the country offer business and technology classes all year long and often they include special courses for working professionals. Giving some of your motivated employees release time and reimbursing them for specific job-related classes can go a long way to boosting loyalty while at the same time raising the skill levels of your team.
Big companies will sometimes pay for employees to get their MBA degrees. It seems like a substantial investment, but might actually be a bargain when compared to hiring an MBA from outside. The locally-grown MBA will have inside knowledge of your business that it would take an outsider months or years to pick up on.
Of course, it’s not just local colleges and universities where you can find resources to benefit your business. Even prestigious overseas institutions put together programs that appeal to US business owners and entrepreneurs, like the Oxford Summer School. In addition to the educational experience, the networking opportunities at a program like this can be invaluable, especially with the growing importance of the export market.
A program like this would benefit yourself or your top management. And while I’m not a tax attorney, certain training and work-related educational costs are tax deductible. Check with your tax/financial advisor and see how you can best leverage these tax benefits.
Employee loyalty has received a lot of attention in recent years, and rightly so. A loyal, talented, and knowledgeable team gives your company its best chance at success. So as you consider the various ways to build loyalty, put training and continuing education near the top of your list.