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Focus on Education and Training to Retain Your Workforce A solid education landed your employee a job. They don't want to stop learning now.

By Karl Mehta Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Motivation, It's that intangible something that inspires you to do what you do, from everyday tasks like visiting the gym or keeping your house clean to larger goals like advancing in your career. It's also one of the key factors that influences a person in their decision to stay or leave their current position.

According to Gallup's State of the American Workplace Report, more than 70 percent of American workers are either "not engaged" or "actively disengaged," and are disconnected from their workplaces -- making them less likely to be productive.

One of the key reasons that employees are disengaged is a lack of stimulating and relevant training and workplace education. Here are five ways that you can make your training and educational programs more engaging for your new and existing workforce:

1. Personalize it.

Companies that personalize professional development plans have greater success motivating their people to learn. For the best results, base these plans on individual employee interests and career goals. Look for skills and applications relevant to the employee succeeding in both current and future roles. This is especially true for younger workers (think millennials), who have never known a time where answers did not rest in their palm and prefer the idea of career-track training.

This fast-growing block of professionals, soon to comprise 50 percent of the workforce, places a high priority on professional development, even over receiving a higher salary. Take advantage of this thirst for knowledge by offering them personal development plans that are relevant to their career path.

Related: How Investing In Employee Training Benefits Your Business

2. Make it bite-sized.

Microlearning involves taking larger educational concepts and content and breaking them down into smaller, bite-sized increments. This is sometimes referred to as "chunking." By breaking content up this way, it makes the overall lesson/training easier to remember, and it is a great time-management device.

Most workers feel pressed for time and appreciate the ability to learn in small periods versus hour-long classes or days-long seminars. Offering and making the content available in both online and mobile formats affords even greater flexibility, allowing employees to embrace and absorb their training anywhere in short bursts of time -- even during their daily commute.

3. Make the relevancy clear.

"Because I said so" does not motivate children, and it certainly will not motivate your employees. Understanding the value of professional development goes a long way toward building excitement for training new and existing employees.

How does this module relate to the employee's job or career path? State the relevance in a clear, concise summation that explains how each lesson applies either professionally or personally and how benefits it each employee. Will they master a particular task? Will they learn valuable communication skills? Clearly delineate the real-world benefits, and your people will be excited to learn.

Related: 4 Ways Businesses Need Employee Learning Programs in Order to Grow

4. Consider the employee's experience.

This goes along with personalizing training to fit each employee's needs. Consider factors such as their educational background, common daily tasks and general knowledge of your industry. If this person is new to the field, professional development opportunities should vary widely from what you offer veteran employees. Is the employee's role about to expand? Training on new job expectations has clear value.

The days of cookie-cutter education are far behind us. Even elementary schools place children in reading and math groups with others of similar ability. Expand on their example when designing trainings for your team.

5. Include training in your employee's yearly review and development plan.

Connecting training and professional development to employees' yearly goals clearly demonstrates the importance your organization places on continued learning for its employees. You are also able to create a distinct connection between each person's expected tasks, skills, and abilities, and the training he or she participates in throughout the year.

Related: 3 Ways to Help Your Employees With Goal-Setting

During the annual review process is the perfect time to create these goals. Discuss what areas you feel need improvement, where the employee would like to improve and what educational path can assist in this improvement. Also, talk about the employee's path forward in the organization. Ask how he or she would like to grow a career. This is a win for both of you. Employees feel more loyal to organizations interested in helping them grow, and you build a skilled workforce with lower turnover rates.

Keeping employees motivated.

What motivates someone changes from person to person, especially where learning is concerned. The act of learning itself motivates some people, so engaging them in professional development is simple. Other people have motivational barriers, such as a lack of time or scheduling issues, and may even avoid continued learning altogether for a variety of reasons. Acknowledging these barriers is only the first step toward overcoming them.

By understanding what motivates your workforce and tailoring your education programs to fit their needs, you can ensure that your existing employees embrace the professional development opportunities you offer while retaining new talent by keeping them stimulated and engaged.

Karl Mehta

Karl Mehta is a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, Presidential Innovation Fellow, and accomplished speaker and author.

Karl Mehta is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and engineer, with over 20 years of experience in founding, building, and funding technology companies in the U.S. and international markets. Based in Mountain View, CA, he is currently the CEO and founder of EdCast, a leading knowledge network, and Code for India, a non-profit organization that inspires global engineers from leading technology providers to donate their time to creating solutions to real-world problems.

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