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It pays to learn and relearn

Singapore has long placed an emphasis on lifelong learning and continuity in development. We’ve seen the opening of institutes that promote those values, and subsidies for those who choose to upgrade themselves professionally. The same would apply for businesses: it’s always a good idea to send your employees for courses and workshops to ensure that they’re up to date about the latest practices. Most of them would have graduated from school a long time ago, and may not be as familiar with new industry practices.

Most companies sponsor these workshops and courses, and while they don’t come for free, the government does provide many subsidies for companies that do so. It’s a worthwhile investment in your employees. When you develop them towards long term career goals, you help them to develop a sense of direction, as well as better job satisfaction. The cost of training your employees is also significantly lower than hiring a new one, so there you have it.

We share with you three reasons why you should do so – and do so now.

Reason #1: Training lowers your company’s turnover rate
Studies and surveys have agreed on this: not training your employees can result in more of them leaving your company due to the lack of skill development opportunities. They feel like they are not learning anything on the job (other than the technical skills required to do their job), and are thus unsatisfied vocationally.

Many employers buy into the myth that it’s cheaper to hire a new worker with the relevant skill set to do a certain job – it makes more sense to have a younger, fresh graduate than to retrain an older one right? This isn’t necessarily true – it has been estimated that it costs roughly USD$11,000 to hire a new worker. This is excluding the cost of relocation if you hire someone from overseas. Compare that to the cost of retraining here in Singapore (with the significant subsidies from the government), and you’ll realise it’s probably a better choice to opt for retraining and development.

Some also believe that employees may be resistant to such courses and workshops. After all, not every employee wants to spend an entire week learning about new things when they can work in an environment and pace that they’re comfortable with. However, employees are, more often than not, intrinsically motivated. They want to be experts in their fields, and they want to be updated in the skills that are relevant to their job scope. These skills learned at retraining courses can help them even when they change jobs, so don’t be too concerned that they might be unwilling to be retrained. Satisfied employees are more likely to be thankful and grateful to their employers – especially when they see you as someone who has groomed them into who they are. When you can show your employees that you think they’re worth investing in, I’m sure they’ll do the same for you.

Reason #2: Spiking your productivity
It is always tempting to direct budget cuts to training and development. Like our previous articles have mentioned, the welfare of employees are not always the priority of employers. It is a common trait amongst younger workers to want to be able to learn new things; it is something they look out for when they’re on the prowl for new jobs. If you’re able to satisfy their need to constantly be better than they were before, you can be sure that their job satisfaction will skyrocket. A trained and updated employee is more likely to become more independent, and thus require less supervision. Their performance is also expected to be enhanced after the training, and that means good news for productivity levels.

Especially for the senior staff, basic skills can be used so often that it becomes easy to overlook the intricate details. They may become overconfident in what they do, and as a result pay less attention to how they do it. Retraining can help with that: preventing the basic mistakes can go a long way in ensuring that productivity does not plummet.

Confidence levels are crucial when it comes to hiring employees; it is one of the crucial factors that employers look out for during interviews. Over time, employees may become less confident with the advent of new technologies and methods of practices, and may fear becoming obsolete. Training and development can help to boost their confidence, and allow them to be more enthused about what they do on a daily basis. These skills picked up are also transferrable – you may be able to save on future training if your current employees are able to teach the newer ones.

Reason #3: It’s more affordable than you think
It’s a common – and legitimate – fear that these courses will make a dent in your company’s budget. Fortunately for us, the government’s emphasis on lifelong learning means that there are plenty of subsidies available for employers who want to send their employees for training. Singapore’s very own Workforce Development Agency (WDA) offers a range of subsidies for SMEs that cover up to 95% of course fees. Non-SMEs get lesser subsidies, but the savings are still significant, making the courses very affordable.

If you’re concerned about paying your employees’ salary while they’re on course, fret not. WDA also has schemes available for application that funds their salary while they’re undergoing training. With the large amounts of subsidies, training and development courses are affordable even for the newest start-ups.

The merits of training and development for your employees are overwhelmingly positive. It is increasingly important to stay up-to-date and relevant in a country that is progressing tremendously, and we must not underestimate importance of honing existing skills and learning new ones. In a country that fervently supports such endeavours, do take advantage of the subsidies and consider maximising the potential of employees! It’ll pay off, you can be assured of that.

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