Motivating Employees to Value Continuing Education

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Motivating Employees to Value Continuing Education

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When your teenager can’t seem to get motivated to get his work done, you have a couple of choices. You can drag them kicking and screaming (doing neither of you much good and starting your day off on a bad note) or you can find some motivation that gets them moving (maybe by enticing them to earn date money or maybe by threatening to put their bed in the garage and making them sleep on the floor!). 

Employees can be sort of like that, too. They can get comfortable in their ways, feel like they know everything they need to know, or maybe they just get apathetic because they’re bored. Certainly, when it comes to continuing education, they can resist for any number of reasons. 

Water Otter interviewed lots of water and wastewater operators to get a sense of what they like and don’t like about continuing education, and perhaps the most consistent responses have been that they don’t think they have time for it, they find it boring, or they simply don’t see value in it.

A manager’s job is to help them overcome their self-imposed obstacles. Here are three simple ways to do that:

Reward them. This seems obvious, but it works. Perhaps agree that if they take six hours of courses over the next three months, they get a half day off on a Friday. Simple rewards work well, and we’ll do our part: By taking courses with their Water Otter membership, they’ll earn coins that they can redeem in our Rewards program.

Encourage them to consider that they are building career equity. (Read “Continuing Education: A Partnership Between Employee and Employer.”)  Building a resume is more than just changing jobs (something you don’t want them to do) or waiting for promotions — a little effort in taking courses goes a long way in developing one’s reputation and skill set.

Lead by example. We can all benefit from more education and this will allow you to share your new tidbits of knowledge with your team. Once they see some real value, they’ll likely be much more interested in getting involved themselves.

Remind them why it’s important. At Water Otter we appreciate what you do and are sometimes frustrated that even the operators that protect our water forget how important their job is. It’s about the water. It never hurts to remind your employees that’s why continuing education is important.  

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