Back to School Season: It’s Not Just for Kids

Kaseya’s Miguel Lopez
Author: Kaseya's Miguel Lopez

The end of summer means the same thing to kids all over … back to school time. But once we grow up, learning should be an ongoing, year-round endeavor. It’s the only way to stay competitive, productive and relevant.

Yet in our constant rush to complete the tasks in front of us, meet looming deadlines and satisfy current customers, we often give continuous learning a gentle shove to the back of the line behind more pressing demands. This might buy us some immediate efficiency, but eventually we’re building up a technical debt in ourselves and our staff by not investing in our most valuable resources … our people.

So, after you’ve outfitted your kids with a new backpack and pencil case – or after you have adjusted your morning commute to avoid the school buses – it’s time to think about your company’s own educational needs and do something about them.

A key to Staying Competitive

Chances are, most of your staff knows enough to do their current job pretty well. If they were struggling, a colleague or manager has probably passed on the minimal knowledge required to get them over the hump and stay productive. But bare minimum competency is a disservice to your staff, your business and your customers.

Training staff on the technologies and tools they use (or will use) regularly has a direct impact on their productivity. They’ll spend less time trying to figure out HOW to do things and more time DOING those things. Bad habits can be broken, shortcuts can be learned, and their everyday stress will be alleviated.

Of course, the technologies your team must be familiar with aren’t standing still either. Vendors are constantly adding new features while customers demand more services and capabilities for their businesses. Expecting your employees to just pick up expertise in these new areas on the fly isn’t realistic, which is why they need proper training to efficiently and effectively implement and manage them.

Improving Employee Retention

As workers become more efficient, their job satisfaction will also rise. People don’t look forward to struggling, they look forward to achieving. When they’ve received the right training that facilitates that achievement, they’re more likely to enjoy their work and stick around.

And although they may not be banging on your office door, employees really want more training – 74 percent of employees feel they’re not achieving their full potential because of a lack of training opportunities at work. And if you want to hang on to your employees, that training might be a factor in them looking for greener pastures as 70 percent of employees said job-related training and development directly impacts their decision to stay with an employer.

Although the responsibility for keeping skillsets relevant lies with each individual, with the right support, their betterment benefits your business. Focus on those who make the effort, however. If an employee takes no steps to better himself or herself, you should not invest as much time and money in training.

There are several ways to put skin in the game besides paying for it. There are many free training resources out there they can take advantage of, and things they can take on during their off time.

A commitment to training and learning also shows that you and your company value employees and are invested in their growth and development, even if that eventually does take them to a new job elsewhere. Seeing a path forward for advancement is far more motivating than envisioning you’ll be doing the same job forever.

Employee turnover is a killer in any industry, but in customer-centric businesses like ours, sudden staff departures can have a knock-on effect when customers are forced to transition to new contacts and things get a little bumpy. Compared to the cost of recruiting and finding a new hire plus the potential for business disruption, an investment in training is small change.

Future Proofing Skill Sets

Automation has already transformed our industry, and we are still in the early stages of relying on business logic and artificial intelligence to handle more and more daily tasks. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be trading in our workers for robots.

Instead, we will need workers who possess an enhanced skillset that can interface with, design, and maintain the automated systems we introduce to increase productivity and scale our businesses – and your staff knows it. 87 percent of workers believe some aspects of their jobs will be automated in the next five years, but the vast majority believe this will open up new opportunities for them.

This means preparing them for the changing demands of the workplace and job descriptions that haven’t even been drafted yet. They’ll need a combination of technical chops and soft skills to thrive in the years to come.

This is a two-way street. Savvy employees know that they cannot allow themselves to have only antiquated skills. In addition to ensuring they have the training they need, if a company stymies them from homing this skillset, they are unlikely to stick around for long.

Finding Talent in a Tight Labor Market

With low unemployment and technology companies struggling to fill positions, the “old” model of hiring people for jobs they’ve basically already done before isn’t working. So enterprising companies must be willing to acquire talent that may not have the ideal resume but instead shows a lot of promise.

Investing in new hires that require some training to reach their full potential deepens your overall talent pool, allowing you to build up the in-house expertise you’ll need without overpaying for savvy industry veterans. But this strategy works only when you’re committed to providing the time, budget, and resources for training them on the technology, tools, and skills they’ll need to become productive.

When putting together a training plan think long term. Have a plan that encompasses several years, not just the first three months. Start with the basics and move up toward higher-end items. Younger, less-experienced employees will need a more detailed plan as much of this may be new to them.

Spoiled for Choice

There’s no lack of options for companies looking to increase employee training and improve the skills of their staff. When it comes to the actual technology and tools workers will be using, many of these resources are available directly from the technology providers themselves.

At Kaseya, we created Kaseya University to fill this need for our suite of solutions. Tutorials and basic resources are available free of charge, while more complex training subscriptions are also available. We also provide certifications, which give your customers the confidence that your staff knows their stuff and provides employees with a tangible benefit from your commitment to training.

Make a Plan and Stick to it

Training doesn’t just happen. To be successful, you need to make it a priority and execute:

  • Figure out which skills and technologies would most benefit your staff both today and in the longer term
  • Come up with a recurring budget figure to ensure training isn’t just a one-off but a true part of your culture
  • Incorporate it into both employee and group goals so everyone is motivated to make it happen
  • Recognize employee achievements when they complete courses and earn certifications
  • Invest in learning tomorrow’s technologies today

Miguel Lopez is senior VP of managed services providers at Kaseya. Read all Kaseya blogs here.