ANDREW CHAN
CEO, ACI HR Solutions

Self-development, through further studies initiated by staff members, is
a positive indicator that can very well benefit an organisation’s long term success.

Q: How can I be a supportive boss to members of my staff who go for further studies?

A: For starters, actually believe that up-skilling and further studies from staff is positive, and can benefit your business. I see many organisations today that still have a culture which discourages this, when instead encouraging further education of employees should actually be embedded into their corporate DNA. This will ultimately eliminate the fear of losing staff after studies have completed. Employers should work with HR in devising personal development plans for its staff, and identify long term goals of each employee, and work continuously with them to gain the critical skills and experience needed to progress within the company.

Q: During exam periods, how can I make sure that duties at work are not affected by an employee’s further studies?

A: Set clear expectations up front by sitting down with the staff member and set working boundaries together that will encourage their studying efforts. If possible offer employees flexible options during exam periods around working hours. This may entail working through lunch breaks and finishing work earlier or taking days off to study and working over weekends. A give and take approach is recommended, which can only be achieved if you have the right culture, and practice open communication with staff.

Q: I noticed my staff spends a lot of time doing his assignments in the office after work. Should I encourage this? What’s the best approach?

A: Unless it’s a distraction to the operation of the business or to other staff, the office could just be a better place to study and work on assignments as it’s quieter compared to the home front.

Q: How can I retain talent when my staff becomes more qualified?

A: Continuously encourage staff during the course of their studies, and be intimately aware of their progress. This way, wherever possible, you can involve them in your business by giving them the opportunity to be assigned to projects, where they can also put their new found skills and learning into practice. Assigning staff projects that they can follow through can be a good retention strategy which can be mutually rewarding.

Q: My staff, who has gone back to school, is one of my most competent employees in the office. I prefer her to stay in the same responsibility but I also don’t want to deprive her of career advancement. How do we move forward?

A: It’s unfair to deprive individuals of career advancement. It is also counter productive to hold staff back because they’re good at their current job. Instead think about succession planning and involve the employee in this effort with mentoring future talents.

Q: What incentives can I give to employees who take the initiative to make themselves better qualified?

A: As an organisation there may be financial subsidies from the government that you qualify for, and in-turn you can offer this to staff to encourage further education within the organisation. Be understanding when they begin their studies and offer flexibility to staff. Most importantly, offer lots of encouragement!