Since its inception in 2012 stress.health.business has showcased numerous examples of companies making strategic choices which benefit both employees and profits. These companies do not view the workplace as a zero sum game where the needs of employers are competing with the needs of employees. Rather, they seek to achieve a competitive edge by identifying and promoting those factors that make work a more successful experience for both employers and employees.
A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management identified seven factors in the “work environment that benefit employers by promoting employees’ job engagement, job satisfaction and intention to remain on the job, and, at the same time, benefit employees by promoting better health and well-being and decreasing conflict in managing their work and personal/family lives.”
All seven of these factors, from opportunities for advancement and learning to company support for job success, are promoted when a company invests in its employees by using education benefits strategically.
Take the inspiring example of Jennifer Hanna, an employee at KitchenAid (a division of Whirlpool that makes those ubiquitous and colorful countertop mixers) which was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Jennifer is now a member of the KitchenAid senior leadership team responsible for more than a thousand employees in the manufacturing operation. She started at KitchenAid when she graduated from high school in 1991 and was struggling to find a way to pay for college. Subsequently, over the years she has graduated from community college, a 4 year college and an MBA program with the help of her employer.
As a result, in this highly competitive job market for manufacturing leadership with 10- 20 years experience, KitchenAid has a highly prized (and rare) asset in Jennifer who is unmistakably committed to the company that took a chance on her.
The WSJ story concludes that: “in an era when millennials are being lured by tech startups with ping pong tables and daily happy hours, the data suggest the better bet for companies is an offer to send them back to school.”
Mobile classrooms, which send the college to the employees, provide companies with an innovative option to help employees acquire and maintain critical job skills. Several companies are now partnering with community colleges to train employees in industries from manufacturing to health care to information technology.
The mission of community colleges is focused on skills training and many of them are adopting mobile classrooms and technology to better fulfill their objectives. The convenience of having a mobile classroom come to the worksite removes a formidable barrier to education for many adult workers who are frequently bound by family and life obligations. For employees who are mid or late career and haven’t been able to navigate the enrollment or commuting obstacles of college, mobile classrooms offer an avenue to keep their skills current and motivation high.
It is not coincidental that the Fortune 100 “Best Companies to Work For” provide almost twice as many hours (73) of training for full-time employees than comparable companies not on the list. Notably, these “Best Companies” also have 65% less turnover, due in part to their investment in training employees.
The bottom line is that an organization’s strategic investments in their employees’ training and development can yield big dividends in employee engagement, loyalty and productivity.