How to Invest in Your Employees’ 4-1-1k

December 30, 2013|

By Robert Kelly

No, that’s not a misprint, nor is this an article forcing you to match or even start a 401k savings at your company.

All people, especially your employees have what I like to call a 4-1-1k, or a knowledge bank account. As a follow up to last month’s article regarding the cost of attracting and meeting a small number of qualified candidates for a position, I’d like to focus on an ongoing process that follows the hire.

Most, if not all, employees get some sort of training/orientation of what their responsibilities entail from a high level overview of where he or she fits into the company. That’s the infant stage of understanding in their journey with you, and sadly it’s where some are left.

Here are some ongoing training and development pointers for your team that I hope will birth new ideas of your own to incorporate into your normal business practices. All of these help with retention, employee engagement, motivation, burn-out syndrome, and preparations for promotion – in other words, their 4-1-1k.

Of course, I ask that you keep as many of these activities voluntary as that will help you and the management staff down the road with employee-related decisions.

Job shadowing. At its core, you’re pairing up one employee with another employee far from each other’s responsibilities. It helps them to understand and appreciate the different functions more completely, and how it fits into the company’s mission.

Certifications and schooling. Probably the first thing you think of on the subject of employee knowledge. Education reimbursements, or paybacks, when a certification is achieved are wonderful.

You can also contribute to the 4-1-1k without cost by simply allowing employees some time during the work week for learning, or letting them leave an hour early one day a week to allow for classes or study groups.

This always raises the personal and professional image for your employee.

Work book club. Not for fiction necessarily, but to allow open/rankless conversations regarding books that contribute to and inspire both personal and professional development. Books that you would recommend on LinkedIn to imply your expertise or level of care for your customer would be ideal to include.

Set up a meeting during lunch or even break into groups made up of different departments. This is also a great way to introduce new business ideas that your employees will buy into.

Self-driven training tools. The most well-known and flexible is online media. Online training is often available in pre-packaged videos or e-books, so you don’t necessarily have to make your own. Other tools can include a collection of case-studies, or industry specific literature.

Research and exploration days. These are half or whole days set aside for each employee to simply research an area in your industry, or explore new ideas on how to conduct business, instead of working on regular everyday tasks.

Industry expos or conferences. This is the overload of training saved for one time of the year. If they have an expo for comics, there is one for your industry! Find one and urge your employees to attend. To see that much industry-specific information and strategies in one shot is invigorating and refreshing. Don’t forget to go over what was learned and how you can transfer the new knowledge into the workforce.

There is one final – and most important – phase of this 4-1-1k investing: Allow your employees to share what was learned through discussion with management. Encourage them to share how it can improve internal operations and, most importantly, increase customer satisfaction to the next level.

Make the decision today to start offering training and development opportunities or improve your current training for your team. Even the smallest changes will be noticed by your staff, and it will be appreciated.

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