Pay It Forward: Why Training Matters
by Traci K and BrightMove Staffing Software and Recruiting Software
In December, Monster.com came out with their Top 11 HR & Recruitment Blogs for 2011. Having some spare time to take a look at a few of their top picks, I came to one that had many interesting posts, however one in particular intrigued me. Lance Haun put out there for all to see in a post entitled Making Employee Careers Competent. Skimming through the text, the conclusion was a few short paragraphs with a brilliant idea:
An administrative assistant who can type 75 wpm and answer a multi-line phone but can’t do a page layout in Microsoft Word or know how formulas work in Microsoft Excel has little chance of getting a job later down the line if he or she doesn’t up their skill level in these areas. A mechanic that has no idea about the computer based tools that can be used in his or her field needs that opportunity to learn about it. In some instances, they simply just need to know about something bigger than their day to day jobs.
And it isn’t just about teaching raw skills. That’s the fundamental part that HR folks should all be doing anyway (for our own company’s benefit if nothing else). It is about teaching people how to investigate new things, research their careers and other interests and learn about the world outside of their cube, workbench or corner office. It’s about thinking that the way to personal fulfillment might not be through their career at all but (gasp) the things outside of work. And if they are looking for career fulfillment, helping them achieve it (whether it be at your company or the next one down the line).
Pie in the sky? Of course it is.
Being better educated about themselves, about their career and about the learning skills that make a person employable in the 21st century is a lofty goal. And putting that on employers is a tough sell. But you’ve seen it out there in the field if your employees have to leave. It is brutal.
Your employees deserve to know that it is brutal. And instead of fear, they have to be empowered by someone who knows what they need to be successful.
How has no one ever thought of this? Or have they and for some reason this ton of bricks has just now been dropped on me? I found this uncomplicated idea completely profound. In an economic time that has been, in a word, depressing, a virtually free chance to help those that work with us or for us is outstanding. Whether the overall goal of this idea is accomplished or not, the mere inspiration of such a plan to get out of the current workforce slump is worth taking note of.
The simple fact is that reading this article made me remember why I am so passionate about HR: I love to help people. It’s as straight-forward as that. I love knowing that what I do on a day-to-day basis is helping, whether it’s a certain person or the whole population of my organization. Not all decisions that we make or implement as HR professionals ultimately lead to the bigger payoff of “helping people”, but shouldn’t each and every one of us strive to make that possible?
I have handled the spectrum of all things employee performance-related: performance improvement plans, layoffs and terminations, succession planning, and training and development. Yet, when someone leaves my office, I don’t have a lot of control as to how that employee might become “better” by the action that was taken. Some people strive to achieve and make the most of their talents and abilities and others don’t. For those that don’t – maybe they just don’t get the same opportunities, have the same chance for a mentor/trainer, or get the confidence boost necessary to reach for the stars.
Why don’t we, as managers, go above and beyond to be sure that our employees are constantly learning? When an employee has fully learned the functions of their position, are there not still things that we can teach them? There are always advances in technology, cross-training opportunities, or overall wisdom from other’s experiences to help employees become more educated, engaged, or if nothing else, learn something about themselves. If each and every manager would try to equip the portion of the workforce that they are responsible for, to better conquer whatever future lies in front of them, in a perfect world, each time an employee moves to a different organization, that company will be getting the maximized potential of that person at the time they left their previous company.
That may sound a little hokey, and most will probably gawk at such a utopian thought process, but the bottom line is that unemployment seems to be holding steady and employers are stating that those ready to work are underqualified and ill-prepared. As an employee-oriented facet of most corporations, we need to take some responsibility for the wellbeing of the current workforce. Why not be a mentor to a future professional or manager of your organization (or someone else’s organization)?
Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.