The Mutual Benefits of Creating a Culture of Learning for Employees
Business owners know the importance of recruiting and retaining the best available talent. This isn't always easy for small business owners. We compete with much larger companies to win over talent. We don't have the budget to pay top salaries and we can't access the same group discounts on medical insurance.
One thing we do have is the ability to help professionals learn and grow in their chosen trades. When you invest in learning opportunities, you show a commitment to your employees' future. That, in turn, leads to a greater commitment from those employees to your business. Here are some ways I created a culture of learning in my company Due.
It all starts with hiring. Some business owners hire by scouring resumes for specific skills and experience types. Yet the best employees may not have ever completed specific tasks. Say your applicant is a software developer who has a background in programming but not the specific language you need. That employee could be the perfect fit in every other way. If you rule that employee out because he hasn't worked with Objective-C programming, you may find that you miss out on a great fit.
What I look for in a new hire is someone who has the soft skills I need, with a willingness to learn the new hard skills necessary to do the job. I set up an environment where employees can access learning opportunities easily.
Next, I select two or three people I really like but let my team interview them and decide who we hire. This helps the team learn and grow while hiring the best talent out there. Most of the time they can hire a lot better than I can!
Access to online learning.
The Internet has simplified the process of learning new skills. Instead of spending nights and weekends on campus at a local college, your employees can learn at their desks or from the comfort of their homes. They'll appreciate the opportunity to learn a new skill and your business will benefit from a great employee who now has the skills you need.
While free learning opportunities are available on Youtube, more intensive courses can be found on paid sites like Lynda.com, Khan Academy, Tareas Plus and Udemy. These are great resources for learning. Some of them free, some paid. These sites offer intensive learning opportunities in highly specialized areas, as well as more general courses.
As a business owner, I've found one of the most valuable perks I can give an employee is the opportunity to learn how to run a business. Many businesses have been founded by entrepreneurs who helped other entrepreneurs build their own businesses. Working alongside a professional growing his own business is the perfect way to learn how to build your own.
The only downside to mentoring your young, talented employees is that they are likely to eventually leave to form their own businesses. But, by supporting each of your workers as they go after their own dreams, you'll build lifelong loyalty and earn a reputation as a supportive business owner who provides opportunities to your employees.
I always think it's better to mentor and train the best employees in the world that will leave than have ok employees that will stick around forever. Create winners knowing they will leave someday. They'll help your company grow 10x faster! Then incentivize them to stick around long term.
If you're working hard to create a great culture within your company, be sure you incorporate learning as part of that environment. When employees feel encouraged to learn and grow, they'll be more likely to enthusiastically help build your business.
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