Small businesses and startups typically work under enormous financial strain, and are constantly forced to examine their budgets to keep their operations lean and afloat. In many cases, business owners interpret that to mean relying on inexpensive low-skill labour, and requiring workers to “learn on the job”.
This neglect of proper training and ongoing employee education can quickly become a limiting factor in a business’ ability to grow and provide quality services. Jobs that don’t offer proper professional development breed incompetence, and quickly become dead-ends for the employees in them. This results in a lower quality products and services, dissatisfied customers, low morale, and high employee turnover.
Invest in employees to stabilise turnover
Businesses that already operate with a high level of employee turnover may feel that it’s hard to justify investing heavily in training and educating new workers. The issue with this is, of course, that employees often leave exactly because of this lack of development.
Competence is critical for morale
Workers who aren’t well trained are often forced to learn by making mistakes, often in a relatively high-pressure environment. While you might tell a new employee that mistakes are expected, the lived experience of your new hire probably won’t reflect this. Mistakes inevitably impact client relationships, which puts pressure on management, who will invariably place that pressure squarely back on the hapless employee. That might look like a natural “educational process”, but it’s also a punitive feedback mechanism that punishes employees for their employer’s failure.
The fear of making some unknown error can quickly become a source of constant anxiety and stress. Not only is that unhealthy, it can lead to other undesirable outcomes, such as employees trying to hide incompetencies to protect themselves, or simply quitting to escape the situation.
Education is upward mobility
One of the few things that motivates people to put up with high-pressure situations like this is the prospect of future gain. Most often, that means professional development and advancement. Providing great training and ongoing professional education for employees has multiple compounding benefits for employees. Not only can it help to reduce unnecessary stress and create a smoother working environment, it also gives them the skills they need to move ahead in their careers and gives them a reason to accept such stressors in their professional life in the longer term.
Use improved competencies to drive growth
Of course, investing in great training to produce reliable, competent, and long-term employees isn’t just about being a good employer, it’s about driving growth. While some of these benefits come naturally as a direct result of your professional development program, others need to be recognised and explicitly taken advantage of. Together, they can transform your business.
Improve client retention
The most obvious benefit of training employees well is that their increased level of knowledge and expertise will result in better client outcomes. This will naturally improve client retention, while also reducing the amount of time spent trying to put out metaphorical fires whenever something goes wrong. The time saved allows leaders to devote more of their focus to the business’ future instead of keeping their current operations afloat, effectively laying the groundwork for future growth.
Tap your employee’s industry expertise
As employees gain in experience and skill, they’ll develop into industry experts in their own right. Their well informed opinions and ideas can provide critical insights into potential avenues for disruption and growth. Keep lines of communication open between these employees and management, so that you can access and leverage them as a resource. By doing this, you can vastly increase the variety of perspectives and professional backgrounds from which you can draw ideas, giving you a much more diverse range of options.
Market your employees
The investment you’ve made in your employees sets your business apart from competitors. You not only benefit from their advanced skillsets, you’re also changing how your team is viewed by customers and your industry. Over time, some employees will develop their own personal places as influencers in your industry. This is a marketable point of pride. Long-term team members can become powerful brand advocates in their own right. By continuing to develop their careers, you can turn them into authoritative representatives of your business who symbolise your place in the industry to potential clients.
By providing proper initial training and ongoing professional development, businesses lay the foundation for growth both in the short and the long term. Education and the pursuit of a high level of competence for all team members is a crucial part of building a stable organisation, and later establishing your business as a leader in your industry.