In the IT world, there’s a secret that isn’t a good secret. In order to get continuing education or more industry training, an employee has to pay for it. Few businesses help their IT personnel increase their knowledge – which seems contradictory since we live in a technology-centric world. Only very large Fortune 500 companies take an interest in developing the skills of their IT personnel.
All midmarket businesses should offer training to IT personnel. The reason is simple: Technology changes. While computer hardware may not change quickly, techniques and best practices in information security, cloud computing, network infrastructure, and disaster recovery are evolving – and evolving at a rapid pace.
In medicine, there’s a mantra called, “Learn one, do one, teach one.” To save money, that mantra should be applied to technology training. Instead of sending an entire department to be trained on new software or new business processes, one person could attend a training session and then serve as the internal instructor for other team members.
Here’s the problem. Many business leaders are concerned that after an employee receives advanced training, then that employee will resign and take the advanced knowledge with him or her – thus, causing a double loss to the business. (First, the business paid for the training, and second, the business has to incur hiring costs to replace the employee.)
But in today’s challenging economy where many employees have taken on multiple roles, perhaps, a solution where everyone wins is that, in order to get training, an employee must sign an agreement that he/she will remain with the employer for a specific length of time before leaving a job. This may be viable with expensive training. But, as always is the case when legal documents are involved, all parties should check with their legal counsel before signing any agreements. In addition, based on your industry, continuing education may be a tax write-off, so check with your CPA or tax adviser.
Continuing education could and should include in-person events, tradeshows, seminars, webinars, membership to trade associations, subscriptions to industry publications, etc. If your employees become active association members, their activities will result in publicity for your business.
Continuing education also serves as a way to improve employee morale. In today’s challenging economy, many employees view their jobs as jobs. They don’t have buy-in and can be disengaged. But, when you demonstrate that your employees are valued by supporting them in their career development, you may see an improvement in the overall demeanor and dedication of your employees.
Let’s face it…when you have loyal employees, there will be less turnover, less onboarding costs, and more opportunities for your HR department to spend focusing on current employees because they don’t have to spend so much time interviewing potential employees.
But above all, the best reason for spending money on continuing education for your IT team is so that your team will have the knowledge to deal with the majority of your technology crises. Whether you have a data breach, server crash, virus infestation, etc., if your IT team is well-versed in the most-up-to-date best practices, your business is better protected than your competitors.
So, would you prefer to invest in your employees or spend your profits to fix a data breach? It’s your decision.
Image Credit: David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.