by Matt Boltz
Education is the third Principle of an Effective Workplace. Once you start a role at a new organization it will typically take anywhere from 3 months to a year to get comfortable in your new position. Why does learning stop when you have been assigned a role and trained on the tasks you will be responsible for? Most people enjoy learning new things and want to be challenged. Why can’t someone in Finance learn about what the Marketing team does and possibly contribute to that team? That person in Finance may have been studying marketing in their own time or may have a skill set that is a better fit for Marketing.
Allowing employees to learn about other departments is also a great way to source candidates for open positions and retain talent. A huge benefit of this type of employee retention is that you are keeping that employee happy while also keeping their knowledge with the company. Let’s say a Financial Analyst that has been with your company for 3 years wants to transfer to the Marketing department. If they have been working and learning from Marketing over the last year then they can step in and be productive immediately. Plus, they already have knowledge about the company, the systems, the industry, and the perspective of having worked in Finance. By utilizing the principle of Education, organizations can retain talent and create a more positive culture.
I worked at a company that allowed people in the Accounting Department to work with different Accounting teams if they were interested. You could have a Fixed Asset Accountant that was interested in what the Tax Accounting team did and wanted to learn about corporate tax accounting. Many open positions were filled by people that took advantage of this program and transferred into the team they were working with. This was a fantastic program and there is no reason why this policy couldn’t be implemented across the whole company. Once again, this type of program can be a great way to source candidates for open positions, promote collaboration, keep company knowledge in-house, and boost employee morale.
Education is a great way to cross train and insure processes are documented properly. By having individuals outside of the respective role review process docs, complete tasks they are not familiar with, and learn new things you can protect against the Lottery Winner scenario or single points of failure. If a member of your organization is the only one who knows how to do their tasks, what happens if that person wins the lottery and never shows up again? It wouldn’t have as negative of an impact if other people knew how to do their job. Teaching a topic to another person is also one of the best ways to ensure you fully understand the subject/process you are teaching.
Once people learn something and have been completing those tasks for a while it is very likely they will become bored and start looking for new challenges outside of your organization. Why not build a culture that allows employees to be challenged and learn within your company?