In an ideal world, employers would festoon their offices with employee diplomas and certificates, all financed by company coffers in the name of worker development, efficiency, and investment in human capital.
But apart from the décor conflicts, we’re hardly in an ideal world. Both worker and manager actively protect their boundaries while continuing to promote increasingly anachronistic values such as loyalty. At the same time, the demands of change and innovation in the workplace have never been greater and require a continued commitment to training in order for businesses to compete.
So what should you, as an employer, do? Grace your employees with education funding only for them to switch jobs when their course is up? Or refuse to assist with education and risk your human resources becoming outmoded?
Here are a few things to consider when weighing up corporate upskilling via eLearning.
Is there any government funding available?
We canvassed the numerous government funding initiatives available for tertiary education. These programs differ state to state, but there’s a lot of assistance for would-be students keen to undertake a certificate or diploma course.
Spend the time and work out how much a relevant course for an employee will set you back. You might be surprised how affordable it is.
If you’re concerned with the amount of time it’ll take to work through the related terms and conditions, contact your preferred registered training organisation (RTO) and hit them up for some advice and insight. They should be able to give you a good indication of your out-of-pocket costs. It’s also wise to ask about other expenses related to the course, such as books, stationary or specific equipment.
If one of the many courses here at Upskilled, like our Certificate IV in Marketing and Communication or the Diploma of Business Administration, sounds right for you or your employees, please get in touch with us to discuss course and possible funding availabilities.
Benefits before completion
One of the prime risks with funding your employee’s tertiary training is that they’ll complete their studies, thank you with a sweaty handshake, and then announce they’re off to another company.
People change jobs for a variety of reasons, many of which are not vitriolic. It’s possible they had no intention of leaving when commencing their study, but something changed along the way and they’ve stayed at your company partly to complete their course. You can’t know for sure.
One good way to hedge your investment is to investigate the way the course is structured and see if you can start benefiting from your employee’s study early on. It makes perfect sense to have your employees practically applying the theory they learn to real world situations. It’s one of the best ways to learn. They’ll also be able to feed real-world experience back into their course and will likely achieve superior results. With students being able to take advantage of online learning (aka eLearning), they will be able to do all or most of their courses online, and won't have to leave the office for lectures or other on-campus events.
Creating a non-discretionary discretionary policy
Perhaps you’re happy to fund the study of Amanda, long-serving, loyal champion of the company, who’d love to undertake a Diploma Of Leadership And Management but you’re less enthused with providing provision for Mal, an ineffective clock-watching life member of the Grumbler’s Club who’s undoubtedly always looking for greener pastures. If both request funding for study, how do you avoid the political fallout of giving one the nod but not the other?
It’s not easy in the short-term if you’ve been caught off guard, but in the medium to long term creating a company policy with a list of eligibility criteria for prospective students. Consider including criteria such as how long a worker has been at your company, recent KPIs, and limiting inclusion to certain growth departments.
Creating an inclusion list is, in a sense, what every university and college does anyway. Ensure your employees understand the policy to reduce feelings of inequality when an employee fails to make the cut.
Provide incentives for completion
If you’ve forked up the funds to invest in your company’s human capital, and your employee has met you half-way and studied hard to complete the course, it’s incumbent upon you to make sure they have an incentive to stay around.
“But I’ve already paid for their study,” you say. That might be true, but ideally new qualifications should make them more valuable to your company (if not, perhaps you agreed on the wrong course) so their services should be worth more. You don’t want to fund someone’s study only for them to leave for richer pastures immediately afterwards.
Incentives predominantly revolve around money, but don’t assume to know what your employee may or may not want. Sit down with them over a coffee and ask what they’d like out of completing their studies. They may favour more flexible working hours, to move to a different area of the business, greater responsibility, or the use of a company car or another fringe benefit. Discuss what’s possible and negotiate the most practical outcome based on what you think their new role may be worth.
It’s vital you consider your business’s culture when contemplating if you should start paying for education. If your business, for instance, is built on hard work with little interaction between employees or management, then a mercurial attitude may be present and it’s likely you’ll see a greater percentage of workers jump ship on completion of their studies.
On the other hand, if you’ve fostered a business where workers are learning from each other, particularly through the apt use of mentors, it’s likely your workers will see their diploma or certificate as one component of their overall professional development and stay on for a sustained period.
Learning off more senior people is a huge boon for less experienced workers. Not only does it grant them insight into the hard skills of the job, but mentors can also provide professional wisdom and act as sounding boards during seasons of difficulty.
Making corporate upskilling count
The best businesses have the best people. Investing in your workers with your company funds can be a daunting and risky proposition, but in some instances, it’s going to be essential.
It all comes down to how you see your business growing and if you think you can provide the necessary incentives to keep quality workers around after they’ve completed their studies. Succeed in creating that quality culture, one that develops and invests in your workers, and further education can only be a good thing.
If you are interested in discussing your employee upskilling options, feel free to browse our courses or give us a call on 1300 009 924. We also have B2B options for corporates looking to create a larger scale employee upskilling program.