Our CEO has a simple trick for identifying which of his team members are ready and willing to grow. These are the employees who will push our company forward in all the right ways. According to Shaun, the key marker of an employee ready to shine is what’s right on their desk. No, he’s not looking for leftover banana peels or evidence that they’ve been sleeping at their desk to cram in more work. The real evidence? Continuing education materials.
But it’s more than just having a stack of books lying around. These team members must also actively seek out new opportunities to grow and learn. He says the team members who go the farthest are the ones hungry enough for knowledge to make themselves known.
Shaun isn’t alone. Companies around the world recognize not only the abstract value of continued education but its direct effect on their bottom line. Why is this? Research shows that those who view learning as a lifelong process are better networkers, leaders, problem solvers, and workers.
Continuing Education = Motivated Employees
In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Dan Pink writes that in order for human beings to feel connected to their lives, fulfilled, and motivated, they need three things: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Education — formal or informal — is the single key that unlocks all three.
Most Americans spend the first 22 years of their lives learning. Then, they go to work and forget all about it. About 42% of Americans will never pick up a book again after college. How do we change this and create a smarter, more resourceful workforce? Why would we want to?
The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) conducted a study of 540 U.S. Corporations. According to the ASTD, groups that spent more on training had 37% higher gross profit per employee than groups that spent the bare minimum. Groups with the highest success spent about 6% of their annual payroll budget on training and continuing education.
Not only that, but the study indicated that firms that invest $1,500 in training per employee, compared to those that spend $125 per employee, experience an average of 24% higher gross profit margins and 218% higher revenue per employee.
The only remaining question is how to get your team on board. Here are some quick suggestions.
Lead By Example
When Shaun pulls into our parking lot every day, one might expect to hear a little Journey blaring out of his speakers. Instead, in the quick seconds before he cuts the engine and steps out of his car for a busy day, employees can catch the sounds of a business audiobook or the last few lines of the latest podcast on marketing and management.
Shaun’s dedication to knowledge is contagious. He encourages employees to share in this knowledge, distributing our company newsletter and weekly “weekend readings” throughout the team. Workers can check out any of the excellent marketing books from the internal library or read them during downtime at their desks. A community of podcast fans even list their latest favorites on the wall of the break room.
Make Continuing Education Easy
Not all extended education has to be expensive or even lengthy. At The Newsletter Pro, if a team member wants to read a book that has to do with their position or growth as a leader, craftsman, or employee, they can! All they have to do is submit a request to our executive assistant — no hoops, no mess, and no reimbursement wait.
Additionally, our team members can access subscriptions to publications like Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal. They can also log on to various training and continuing education online platforms. This includes Lynda.com, a highly robust platform for training of all types. We also make it easy for our team members to explore conference and workshop options, by offering to meet them halfway on costs. When they show an investment in their future and ours, we are willing to invest in that, too.
Make Them The Teachers
Task high-performing members of your team with independent research. Have them report their findings to the rest of the team. When team members are spurred to find and share new ideas, you’re left with highly educated employees. Plus, the “teacher” will learn with a sense of purpose. Relaying new information to others is scientifically proven to increase retention and memory. A half-century ago, a business might have survived solely with its on-hand knowledge. But in today’s competitive world, the only way to the top is through a continuous and concerted effort to learn, innovate, and advance.
Why focus only on your own education when you can exponentially multiply the knowledge, purpose, and power of your employees?