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An often overlooked but surprisingly effective way to improve productivity and strengthen company loyalty is providing ongoing employee training opportunities. Financial advisory teams can benefit enormously from implementing a culture of ongoing learning that allows each member of their staff to discover and pursue their career goals. Here’s how it can benefit your business and how to implement it in your office.
From increased productivity to fostering stronger skills in your team, there are a lot of ways your financial advisory practice can benefit from investing in your employees’ growth. Some of the key benefits include:
Tapping into all those benefits doesn’t require a complete overhaul of how you run your firm. A few simple changes can help encourage your staff to take advantage of this opportunity to grow.
The first step to incorporating ongoing learning is providing your staff with the resources to do that learning. While some larger companies do this by providing reimbursements or tuition coverage for continued education programs, it doesn’t have to take the form of costly incentives like these.
With online course catalogs like Udemy, Coursera, or LinkedIn Learning, you’ve got plenty of budget-friendly options for providing the resources your employees need to upskill and explore their interests.
While it might seem like focusing exclusively on developing skills that directly relate to your practice makes sense, it’s actually better to let employees decide for themselves what kind of skills or knowledge they want to develop—even if it doesn’t have anything to do with your financial advising.
Some loose parameters are fine. For example, in my office, I provide unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda)—an online learning platform with thousands of business, software, and creative courses—with the simple request that they choose at least one work-related course. The rest of their learning is up to them.
Providing the resources and giving employees freedom to pursue their own interests is a great start but if ongoing learning isn’t already built into your office culture, it might not get utilized as much as you hoped.
Implementing something new for your team is just like starting any new habit. To make it stick, you need to set concrete, achievable goals. Ask your employees to set specific learning goals for themselves (work-related or otherwise). Then have them identify which courses they need to take and what timeline they want to finish them in. With a concrete plan in place, they’ll be more likely to take advantage of this learning opportunity.
You may already be tracking certain performance goals for your staff that you then review during periodic performance reviews. Doing the same with an employee’s learning goals can help them stay on track.
Discuss learning milestones during those work performance reviews. Of course, the discussion about learning performance should be more casual and shouldn’t have an impact on their performance rating. This should just be an opportunity to establish the importance of ongoing learning.
Whether it’s small talk before a meeting starts or planned “learning lunches” where employees share what they’ve learned lately, find ways to incorporate learning into casual conversation. Doing this does a lot of things.
First, it’s an opportunity for you to take an active interest in your staff’s ongoing learning. Showing interest in what they’re learning encourages them to keep going.
Secondly, it builds a sense of community. Studying or completing assignments, even for a skill or subject you’re interested in, can be tough and, especially with online or remote learning, it can also get lonely. But knowing you’ve got a community of fellow learners at work that are cheering you on and want to know what you’re learning about can be just the motivation you need to plow ahead.
Finally, it makes ongoing learning part of the office culture. If “What have you learned recently?” is heard just as often as “How was your weekend?” in the office, it reinforces the idea that ongoing learning is a fundamental part of life.
When an employee successfully completes a certification or finishes an online course, be sure to give that employee recognition for their accomplishment. This could be as simple as designating an “achievement wall” in the office where you hang certifications or diplomas. It could take the form of an award—like buying lunch for the employee or bringing in donuts for the staff to celebrate the employee’s success.
These small acts of recognition and reward will go a long way toward reinforcing a culture of learning in the office. When the rest of your staff sees an employee being rewarded for their learning, they’ll be more encouraged to continue pursuing their own learning goals.