This is the first in a series of three blog posts regarding recruiting and developing intelligent, dedicated, creative and driven employees.  In the following weeks we will be posting two more articles on the recruitment, development and retention of your employees.

As a small business, the allocation of resources can sometimes be a challenging task as shifting priorities and goals make it hard to determine what makes the most sense to invest in.  One of the goals of any business should be the recruitment and retention of the best, most capable employees.    Once recruited, research has shown that investment in your employees leads to greater satisfaction and therefore greater retention.   The decision to re-invest in your employees can lead to greater alignment with your company’s goals and long-term retention of your most valuable asset: your employees.

The traditional method of sending employees to professional conferences remains a valuable solution for developing employee skills.  The networking benefits of meeting face-to-face increase the value of the conference, not just for the individual attending but also for their organization.  These meetings allow for participants to make a personal connection with other attendees and presenters.   Professional societies are typically very good at identifying current trends in the field and asking thought leaders to present on their work. 

Over the past 10 years, virtual conferencing and webinars have become increasingly popular.  This methodology significantly reduces expenses over that of a face-to-face meeting.  The additional benefit of many online conferences is that they can allow for attendees to practice skills as they learn them and often remain in the office to attend to maintenance of business.  Often recordings of presentations are made available for participants, allowing for access to others in your organization.  Many traditional professional conferences are beginning to provide specific lectures online either live or recorded on the conference website.  Therefore it is recommended to check if your professional society conferences offer those as an option for those who cannot attend in person.

A longer-term educational investment can include tuition reimbursement for selected classes.  While this typically comes at a greater expense, the rewards of this investment, if managed wisely, can provide employees with knowledge to augment and improve their skill sets and greatly benefit your organization.   The federal government also provides tax incentives to small businesses.  Check out IRS Publication 535 for more details.

Regardless of the solution, investment in your employees’ skills can keep you on the forefront of your field, keep you apprised of your competitors’ work and improve your practices and procedures.   Investment in education leads to greater job satisfaction and thereby less turn-over.  Your employees drive your business’ success, and encouraging them to continue their education benefits everyone involved.

Next Series Article: Training

Sources

1. Anderson, Lynn & Anderson, Terry.  Online professional development conferences: An effective, economical and eco-friendly option.  Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology 25(2).  Spring 2009.

2. Internal Revenue Service.  Publication 535: Business Expenses. http://www.irs.gov/publications/p535/index.html

3. Lee, Chay Hoon & Bruvold, Norman T.  Creating value for employees: investment in employee development.  International Journal of Human Resource Management  14(6):981-1000. September 2003.