For working Americans, the back-to-school season might be reserved for children in the K-12 and higher education systems, but this seasonal transition also should be a reminder that learning does not stop at the schoolhouse doors.
Upskilling and honing one’s craft is a practice that should be repeated throughout every employee’s career, especially as technology continues to evolve. Employers in the healthcare industry must recognize their responsibility to provide their workforces with a path to upward mobility and understand the value of doing so.
As Baby Boomers continue to retire, Generation X and Millennials are making up a larger portion of the workforce, making it that much more pertinent that employers invest in educating younger workers. Healthcare facilities managers and other leaders cannot discount the amount of institutional knowledge that older workers have earned throughout their careers.
But with the youngest Baby Boomers expected to retire by 2031, healthcare leaders are racing against the clock to ensure someone is ready and able to fill their shoes, whether the task is operating a boiler system or designing a new healthcare facility.
Knowing a massive wave of retirement is continuing, employers should prioritize professional development opportunities for younger workers. The benefit to this concept is that nearly every worker craves learning and development opportunities. An estimated 75 percent of Americans agree — acquiring new skills could lead to more job opportunities — and 94 percent of workers say they would stay at their current job if the employers chose to invest in their careers.
Offering on-the-job training to employees not only creates a steady pipeline of talent. It also ensures that vital knowledge of operating a certain piece of equipment or strategically planning an expansion is not siloed into one individual.
Earning buy-in from healthcare leadership on this strategy does not stop with a pipeline of talent. It is important that leaders be judicious with the kind of training programs workers will undertake. Management must consider factors such as the specific points the program must hit on to ensure it fills the right gaps within the workforce, whether an option exists to modify the program to best meet the facility’s needs and identify the person who will facilitate the training.
Considering the facilitator of the training and his or her background is one of the most important elements to evaluate when deciding on a specific program. For example, if a facility wants to train more of its employees on operating boilers, there is a chance the trainee might respond better to someone whose main role is working on that machinery. The trainer and trainee will immediately find common ground because they work in similar environments and likely are up to speed on the jargon and day-to-day operations they encounter.
The right thing to do
One common fear of providing programs that help healthcare facilities employees gain new skills is that they will move on to another job and take their new learnings with them. On the contrary: Providing job training and learning has been proven to boost employee retention.
Since 94 percent of workers say they would stay at their current jobs if their company opted to invest in learning and development opportunities, investing in workforce training does come with a slight risk of turnover. But the willingness to add more tools to their toolkits can drive retention and solidify a talent pipeline for years to come.
The back-to-school season often sparks nostalgic memories for many people as students gear up to hit the books. It also is a reminder that learning never stops and is something that employers and employees continually crave throughout their careers. Workers want it, but it is up to healthcare leaders to provide pathways for facilities workforces to upskill and reach their fullest potential.
Casey Garamoni is vice president of human resources for Medxcel, where she develops and implements strategies for talent development, acquisition and human resources services.