By Patrick Boberg
Retaining high-value staff can be a treacherous high-wire act. Are you fostering a culture that matches industry expectations? Are your compensation levels competitive? Are there opportunities within your organization for staff to take on new challenges? Does your outfit provide possibilities to further careers or simply offer positions to bide time before finding a “dream job”? Turnover is a real concern, and addressing these issues can result in long term undertakings. The quickest way to foster affinity in your company is to understand that each member of your staff has goals and skills that exist outside their professional roles and tangibly show your support in those interests through professional development opportunities.
First off, professional development does not necessarily mean financial assistance for higher education or sending staff to expensive conferences. Large organizations may be able to cover those costs, but it is simply out of the question for small businesses and start-ups. Still, the digitally learning revolution has nearly leveled the scholastic playing field. Online services like Lynda.com, KnowledgeCity.com and TrainSimple.com offer incredible troves of online courses in a wide variety of interests and skillsets. At $29.99 a month, an annual subscription to Lynda.com provides subscribers with thousands of online, video-guided courses taught by industry leading professionals in business administration, software development, project management, photography, digital design and so much more. KnowledgeCity and Train Simple offer similar libraries for annual costs of $10 and $12.50.
Of course in the case where margins are razor thin and any added costs could be detrimental to staying afloat, another professional development option is MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. Devised as an open-source alternative to learning, MOOCs provide free courses to giant collection of online learners. Sites like Code Academy, Khan Academy and Coursera were built with the mindset financial roadblocks should not hold back impassioned learners from achieving their dreams. Just like the online educators with paywalls, MOOC courses cover many interests, only they are primarily designed for learners with zero prior knowledge before joining a course, and rarely teach beyond the basics.
Offering these tools may seem small or trivial, but never underestimate that each of your employees is a person with a wide array of talents and interests. Fanning the flames of those interests will show your staff you are interested in more than their professional duties. Consider online educators and MOOCs your secret weapon to foster a warm company culture.
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter@PatBoBomb.
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