How many times have you heard the expression, “Employees are our most valuable asset”? While it is used so often it has become a cliché, most managers will agree that having highly skilled and motivated employees is essential to an organization’s success. The great thing about employees as opposed to most assets is that they don’t depreciate in value – in fact, as they gain experience and skills they become increasingly valuable. However, to achieve the benefits of an appreciating asset, firms need to have a program of investment in employee development through training and education.
Investing in continuing and professional education for employees provides several important benefits. The most obvious benefit is the development of employee skills and capabilities. In the Cameron School, our administrative specialists use Microsoft Excel on a daily basis. However, most of them are self-taught, and as a result use only a fraction of its functionality. In response we have committed to a 24-hour certification program to ramp the level of expertise up from basic user to power user. This program will pull our staff away from their regular jobs for six Friday afternoons – a very significant investment of time. However, our employees will become more capable and more efficient in their jobs, saving us time and money in the long run.
A second key advantage of continuing and professional education occurs when the training is done, not individually, but collectively with the members of an entire organizational unit. A prime example is the implementation of the Lean philosophy, which seeks to economize on resources by optimizing the flow of work, at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Implementing Lean in a hospital involves rethinking the processes the medical and administrative staffs use to do their work in order to improve patient care and the hospital’s processes. However, making Lean work requires that everyone is on the same page. Employee training and education play a key part in this. NHRMC regularly holds workshops and classes to help employees gain an understanding of different Lean concepts and tools that are rolled out to the organization. As Jack Barto, the CEO of NHRMC, noted, “Continuing education is one of the core values of our organization.”
A third key benefit of making continuing and professional education a priority is what it signals to employees. Investing in continuing education shows that you value your employees. A 2010 survey conducted by Harris and Associates indicated that turnover intentions were significantly higher among employees who rated their training and education opportunities as poor (41 percent) versus those who rated their training and educational opportunities as excellent (12 percent). Good employees desire to enhance their skill sets; when those opportunities are provided, they are much more likely to feel committed to the organization.
So now it’s time for a shameless plug. UNCW’s Swain Center for Business and Economic Services is the arm of UNCW that offers continuing and professional education to businesses and organizations. We link the deep knowledge and teaching capabilities of our faculty with the needs in the community. We offer programs and workshops to the public at UNCW as well as customized programs for organizations, either at their offices or on UNCW’s beautiful campus. If you are interested in learning more about how UNCW can meet your training and educational needs, then we invite you to an Open House that the Swain Center is holding from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on September 18. If you would like to come, send an RSVP to [email protected].
For 2014-2015, Dr. Robert T. Burrus, Jr. will serve as interim Dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Before taking on the role of interim Dean, Burrus was the department chair for economics and finance and a professor of economics. He has been on Cameron’s faculty since 1998. The Cameron School of Business has 90 full-time faculty members and 29 administrative and staff members. The school hosts approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 170 graduate students. International students come to study at Cameron from all over the world. The Cameron School of Business is AACSB accredited; offers capstone experiences; houses a Financial Trading Markets Room; provides for overseas learning opportunities; and is a founding member of the Trans-Atlantic Business School Alliance. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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