Why don't companies require all employees to continue to grow while employed? In-house training programs and required continuing education doesn't have to be hard to implement, or costly. In fact, it can be quite simple and it benefits everyone involved, employees, employers and the clientele.

If employees are learning and growing, then the company is learning and growing too. You can't expect to be at the cutting edge of your industry if the employees aren't at the cutting edge of their trade. Here are a few simple things you can put in place today that don't cost much but will begin to get the team focused on growth.
  • Require each employee to read an article: It can be industry related, job task related or something way outside the box. Sometimes the best articles I have read come from outside my industry. I learn about what someone in a unrelated field did to solve a problem and realize I can adapt their solution to solve an issue we are having. Great article sources come from trade magazines, Forbes, and Smart Business, and LinkedIn.
  • Start a library: We have all types of books in-house that our employees can check out with topics ranging from sales, to leadership, time management, marketing strategies, and tax laws. Our library also includes all the study materials for state and national industry certification. We have book form and audio form for a lot of our material as we know some people just don't like to read. Used book stores and Amazon are great places to get books at a reduced cost.
  • Free webinars: Hop online and search for free webinars in your field, you are sure to have multiple results. They are easy ways for employees to continue learning without too much effort on their part.
  • Memberships: Memberships to state and national associations are a great place to get educational information. They have training tools, safety information, and legal information that will help you stay compliant with the ever changing government issues that affect your industry. If your company has a membership most likely your employees can use the tools online tools for free.
  • Talk to your Suppliers: Most suppliers will come in and talk to your staff, free of charge. They can educate you on their products, its best usage, and proper application. When a client asks one of your employees why you use this product over another they then have all the information they need to educate the clients. This makes everyone look good!
  • Use your in-house experts: No doubt you have someone in your company that is your expert. Set aside 30 min to an hour once a month and have your staff do a training program for other employees. In our company our horticultural expert does a plant ID class and our licensed electrician teaches an electrical safety course. In the administration department we do all kinds of cross training to keep up to date on all our processes.
These simple tips will get your training program off to a good start. Be sure to ask employees what they learned and let them share it with others. I ask my staff at our weekly team meeting, "What did you learn or make a change to last week." Each employee then briefly shares what they have learned or how they implemented something new. I can tell you that no one likes to be the one that didn't learn anything new!

Once these simple idea are established, learning becomes contagious and really takes off. As you grow, you can implement other training requirements such as offering tuition reimbursement and tracking employee progress.

Please feel free to share opportunities your company offers to help keep employees growing.