Growing Your EmployeesBy: James Cavalluzzi
The importance of reinvesting in your business is no secret. If you want to remain competitive, you need to ensure you are using the latest technology, the newest equipment, and are applying the most current methods in your operations. You are also quite aware of the importance of a highly skilled and capable workforce that can utilize these assets and effectively strive to outperform your competition. Investing in capital is a priority of nearly every company, but what about investing in your employees?
Hiring quality employees has always been the goal of every organization. The methodology has been well defined from the development of detailed job descriptions to rigorous interviewing procedures. Much effort and money has been spent in an attempt to attract and mete out the highest caliber recruits. Thorough background checks, scrupulous reference reviews, meticulous investigation into criminal records and past performance as well as comprehensive assessments of the representative skills are the mainstay of every successful human resource manager. A considerable amount of energy is expended in the process of finding that capable employee, but what about your current workforce?
There are companies out there that have come to realize just how important the continuous development of current employees is, however, there are still a vast percentage of organizations that overlook this process to at least a significant degree. If you have yet to adopt a system to train, educate and improve your workforce in an ongoing manner, the time to do so is upon you.
Develop a Plan
Develop a comprehensive program to evaluate your employees on a regular basis. At the bare minimum you should take advantage of the annual performance review to assess each individual’s capabilities, compare their current qualifications to those required to achieve the goals of the organization and identify the skills needed to make each employee a proficient tool for reaching those goals. Reevaluate the goals you have set at regular intervals to determine not only if your plan is on track, but are your employees keeping up as well.
Just as you perform scheduled maintenance on facilities and equipment, your employee base requires the same attention to capability and utilization. When machinery or software is no longer capable of handling your day to day requirements, you upgrade the software to remain competent. As your employees begin to lag behind your desired abilities, you likewise should be looking to upgrade their potential in the same manner.
Have an Attrition List
Every company should have some type of attrition list. When employees retire, resign, or leave for whatever reason, it is important to know who the most likely candidate to replace that individual is. Knowing up front gives you the opportunity to determine what skills are lacking and provide the necessary training or experience before it is too late. Why would you want to advertize, interview, check up on and train a new employee when you can simply promote from within?
Promote From Within
Promoting from within your organization offers many advantages in addition to the money saved by not having to look outside for new recruits. Current employees already know who is who, what is where, and how your company goes about its daily operations. You know your workers level of reliability and responsibility. An existing employee will most likely be much happier when given the chance to grow with the company. If an employee is doing a good job in a position he was hired into, think of the level of performance you will get if that employee is promoted or moved to position he or she is truly interested in. Most importantly, if an employee feels that their hard work and dedication will pay off with regular opportunities for advancement and subsequent pay increases, they will be more prone to embracing those added responsibilities and will be much more willing to remain with the company for the long term.
Another asset of promoting from within is your ability to move workers up the ladder. With proper training you can have a number of individuals that are ready to step up when the need arises. Wouldn’t it be great if you could hire experienced managers to perform your daily tasks? You will be hard pressed to pull this off hiring from the outside, but by training and mentoring your current staff you can have a number of management level employees on the floor. When your company grows, the additional leadership is right there waiting to step up.
By moving your employees up through the ranks you create openings at the bottom. The jobs you need to go outside for are those jobs that require the least amount of skill and that pay the lowest wage. This source of labor is readily available, requires the least amount of training and if it turns out they do not fit the bill and you need to let them go, you have minimized your losses. Another employee can be quickly attained and brought up to speed with very little effort so the impact to your daily operations is almost negligible.
Provide Quality Training
There are many ways in which to provide the necessary training for your employees. Experience can be gained by simply working alongside other competent employees when time permits or by filling in when someone is on vacation or out of the office. Send your workers to seminars, conventions, classes, etc. Better yet, bring the training in house. If you see that there are areas where all or many of your workforce is behind, such as some new software or technology, you can take advantage of the groups size and usually get tailored instruction on site at a reasonable cost. Offer education assistance or tuition reimbursement at some level. Take advantage of possible local government training credits, workforce development funds, or tax deductions to reduce your out of pocket expenses.
It is in your best interest to retain the employees you have already invested heavily in. The benefits far outweigh the cost. So invest in your largest resource, your employees, and grow them as you would any other part of your business. I am reminded of a question I heard many years ago: “What if you train them and they leave?” to which the correct answer was, and still is: “What if you don’t and they stay?”
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© Copyright 2007, James Cavalluzzi
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