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Why Sending Your Workers ‘Back to School’ is Good Business

employees

Why Sending Your Workers ‘Back to School’ is Good Business

Learning shouldn’t stop when someone earns a diploma or degree, and that’s especially true in the workplace where the company’s fate – and an employee’s career – could rest on the constant thirst to learn and improve.

“Developing a culture of continued education and continuous improvement is critical if you want to retain your staff and provide them with advancement opportunities,” says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), founder and CEO of PFSbrands and author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.

Essentially, Burcham says, sending employees “back to school” is good business, but that doesn’t mean you need to enroll them in Harvard’s MBA program.

“There’s plenty you can do right within your own doors and that employees can do on their own,” he says.

A few examples, Burcham says, include:

Establish in-house training programs. “Many companies spend thousands of dollars to send their employees to seminars or conferences,” Burcham says. “This strategy is fine, but personal growth starts by training in the workplace.” One example at PFSbrands, he says, was the creation of a Financial Literacy Committee that worked to make sure employees were educated about the financial aspects of the company, helping them to understand income statements and balance sheets. “This makes everyone more aware of the challenges involved with achieving profitability,” Burcham says. “Furthermore, this education provides everyone an opportunity to see how they can impact the company’s profitability and enhance their opportunity for additional income.”

Encourage everyone to read books for personal development. “One of my biggest regrets and mistakes in life is that I didn’t start reading books until age 40,” Burcham says. Now, he has created a book club at his company to encourage and incentivize everyone to continue to grow and learn, and he requires the senior-leadership team to read a minimum of 12 books a year. “I’ve seen dozens of people improve their lives as a result of implementing our book club,” he says.

Target lifelong learners in recruiting efforts. You can encourage employees to develop a continuous-improvement mindset, but it’s also possible to find people with that mindset in the hiring process, Burcham says. “We’ve found that lifelong learners are a great fit at PFSbrands, so we’ve developed systems and processes that help us to recruit these types of individuals,” he says. “Employees who don’t make an effort to continuously learn and improve will ultimately find themselves at another company. We train our leaders to not avoid the critical conversations with individuals who are not working toward improvement.”

“Despite how many degrees hang on the walls in their offices, wise leaders are committed to never stop learning,” Burcham says. “Whether it’s done in-house or at an industry conference, you owe it to yourself and your employees to engage in continued education. After all, a successful company’s growth is dependent on the capabilities of its employees.”

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Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.

new tech

How To Introduce Employees To New Tech

New technology solutions can have a positive impact, not just your how you work, but on your office culture. Sometimes new platforms that drastically change your regular processes can intimidate and alienate workers who are used to working in traditional systems and procedures.

It’s normal for workers to at first be apprehensive to big changes when they’ve grown used to the way things have been done for years. That’s why it’s important to see things from their point of view and understand that change is tough.

Help Them See The Value

When introducing new tech solutions to your colleagues, it’s important to make them understand why you’re implementing it and what it will do for the business. Explain not just how it will benefit the business in general, but how it will benefit their specific roles and what the impact will be.

If it’s a tool that’s meant to streamline a certain process, be sure to impress on them that the time saved will allow them to focus on more and grow their roles. If it’s a solution that’s meant to free up more resources, discuss with them how they now direct that saved budget and labor to more productive things. If they can see the value it will bring to them as an individual, you can make them excited to learn more about it and look forward to its implementation.

Document management solutions represent a big shift in how businesses interact with their documents, especially if you’re transitioning from a mostly paper-driven structure. However, it’s a technology that vastly improves business processes by introducing tools like automation and intelligent organization.

Make a Plan and Keep Them In The Loop

Many big tech solutions require time for implementation and onboarding. It rarely happens overnight, so having a roadmap for implementation is essential to make sure it all goes smoothly. More importantly, staying transparent with your employees on this roadmap is helpful in easing them into the new system. Letting them know what they can expect during the implementation period can give them ease and let them know that they have time to get used to the transition rather than just diving in.

Give Them Time

New technology always has a learning curve, and this is especially true for those who aren’t used to working with it as part of their job. While some are quick learners and early adopters, there is an equal number of those who have more of a struggle learning how things work. They won’t get it overnight, so it’s important to be patient and encouraging. A transitional period where they’re still allowed to get their job done the old way while learning the new way is encouraged if possible. As long as they’re willing to learn and not resistant, it’s worth it to let them grow at their own pace, all while providing the necessary support such as additional training and mentoring.

Incentivize

If some employees are more resistant than others to adopt new platforms, it doesn’t hurt to throw out some incentives to encourage them to embrace the change. Having perks such as free lunch with training will make those employees a little more enthusiastic about attending those meetings.

Get creative with tying small rewards to the use of the new tech solution as well as implying bigger forms of recognition for demonstrating proficiency and enthusiasm for the new system. Letting them know that the skills learned from training will reflect across their entire career and showcase their adaptability.

Listen to Them

Taking in feedback is an important part of any business decision, not listening to your employee’s opinions and concerns about adopting a new tech solution. Encouraging an environment where your colleagues can discuss freely their experience with the current processes and how introducing a new factor that will impact those processes will help inform how you build out your implementation roadmap and how you go about training. Being open to their ideas of how to transition and addressing their concerns will make them feel part of the process and not feel like it’s being forced upon them.

Jesse Wood is the CEO of eFileCabinet, a best-of-breed advanced document management system that improves the lives of people, small to enterprise-level businesses, and their clients. Wood has 20 years of leadership experience innovating custom technical solutions for a wide range of business applications.