Resources are getting tighter and many organizations are facing the challenge of making the most of a lean workforce. It may be tough to justify employees spending several days in training, but forward-thinking organizations are finding ways to invest in staff education.

It is a major issue if people lack training for the employment roles that already exist, let alone the ones that are just around the corner. In fact, it spells great trouble for the nation and economy, according to Taylor Reveley, president of The College of William and Mary in the study ‘Across The Great Divide.’

To secure hard-to-fill positions with talented individuals, 50% of employers are planning to recruit and train workers who lack experience in their field. 31% are planning to provide cross-training to current employees, while 19% are targeting talent from competing firms. 41% of companies reported they have programs to help alleviate the gap, including on-the-job training and sending employees back to school among other efforts, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

Take United Technologies Corp. (UTC), for example, which invested $1 billion in its Employee Scholar Program. $12 million went to Georgia employees, who eventually received a total of 558 degrees. Natalie Morris, director of employee benefits and HR systems for the company, confirms that improving employee skills improves the organization overall. It helps them to attract and retain top talent and promote from the inside. Employee Scholar graduates are less likely to leave -- and more likely to be promoted. Many UTC employees use the benefit to earn their business degrees to advance their careers.

Many other employers are beginning to realize the importance of in-house courses, accelerated degree programs, and trade-specific credentials. The accelerated online masters programs at Gwynedd Mercy, for instance, show how education is being built around an adult’s full time working schedule. Such flexible programs are allowing organizations to retain their staff productivity while grooming potential leaders, or molding top talent into better leaders.

It’s clearly an investment that benefits both employees and organization. The following are a few more reasons to send employees back to school.

Increase Employee Engagement And Trust

A company investing in employee education essentially sends the message that it wants personnel to stick around; apparently, no organization invests in education for employees they want to lay off.

But education can also lead to better employee engagement and improved trust toward the company’s vision and goals. In other words, education can help employees understand how their roles evolve along with the mission of the company.

Fill The Talent Pool

Education helps employees learn new skills and fulfill their full potential, which strengthens the talent pool for employers. Having a competent staff enables a company to safely hire from within and reduce the time – and uncertainty – associated with external enrollments.

As a greater number of employees develop required skills for problem-solving, it has a cumulative effect, creating synergy across the entire organization.

Polish Employee Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills – soft skills – don’t just determine top talent; they determine the overall productivity of the organization. Investing in employee education can improve the soft skills employees need to succeed in the company.

Further, education promotes interpersonal relationships among staff and their colleagues/classmates, fostering a deeper level of teamwork and commitment – which could be the difference-maker for an organization.

Tags: Advice, Careerbuilder, United Technologies Corp, Taylor Reveley, The College of William and Mary, Across The Great Divide, Employee Scholar Program, Natalie Morris, Gwynedd Mercy