The everyday demands and stresses of being a small business owner means some “nice to have” initiatives often get pushed to the backburner. Especially during those days where you’re struggling to find a minute to gobble down lunch, investing time (and of course, money) into an employee development program can seem unnecessary.

But the truth is, employee learning is one of the most valuable things an entrepreneur can do for his or her company. Though it can be costly, you’re building a solid foundation for your business and fostering a happy, productive team. Offering employee education is a great way to show current and future hires that you’re willing to invest in their wellbeing (and keep high performers engaged).

Here are six reasons to consider making employee education part of your business’s bottom line—and why it’s worth it.

It can improve employee retention rates

Employee retention can be a huge and expensive burden for the small business owner. Hiring takes time and money, so once you land a great employee, keeping them is just as crucial. Investing in employee development really means investing in your employees—and showing them that they matter to the company, especially in the long term.

No matter how long an employee has held a position, there are always new skills that can’t always be learned on the job. In addition to making workers feel more valued as part of the team, the best employee development programs allow the employee to take charge of his or her own career. This is empowering for any employee, but not only that—if you make it clear that conference attendance or continuing education is important to a given role, you’ll appeal to the most passionate, motivated type of worker.

A big reason employees jump ship is because they feel uninspired or underutilized. Team learning programs can help provide a much-needed jumpstart to a stagnant career and keep employees from job-hopping.

It can help attract the very best

In a world where job hopping is considered the norm, employers have to work hard to recruit and retain good employees. Company culture is steadily becoming more and more important, and with websites such as Glassdoor allowing employees to rate and review companies, your reputation matters.

Not only will a prominent workplace development program attract passionate workers who want to better themselves, it can help improve a company’s overall culture and reputation. Offering an array of perks can be vital to attracting top talent, and this is one perk that truly benefits everyone involved.  

It can help you save more money  

A highly skilled, productive employee is well worth the cost. The more efficient your team is, the greater the output and higher the quality of work will be. The best employee learning programs encourage employees to pick up new skills, allowing them to work across areas and wear more hats.

This is especially important in a small business, where all hands are always on deck. As your employees diversify their skills, they can be tapped to fill needs and take on new projects. Not only will this help the company bridge gaps in the short term, it gives employees the opportunity to feel empowered and learn skills for the long one.

Plus, a well-oiled employee learning program has the potential to make money. A super efficient, highly skilled employee has the potential to increase sales output and bring more money in. As business changes quickly, keeping your employees on the top of their game will keep your company there too.

It can help you promote from within

Promoting the best and brightest from inside your own ranks is always a good idea. When it comes to filling managerial or executive roles, who better than those already familiar with your company and product? While not every passionate employee is ready or equipped to take on a larger role, employee learning can help them get there.

The best employee learning programs not only teach, but also help identify gaps in knowledge, so you can hone in on specific needs across your team. As your employees become masters of the subjects in which they are being trained, they will become teachers to your future hires, setting up a cycle of education.

There are many ways to implement employee learning

When it comes to employee development, the possibilities are virtually endless. The benefits of a robust learning program are self-evident, but how it’s implemented is up to you. Employee development doesn’t have to mean reimbursing workers for expensive college courses or paying for lavish conferences. As a small business owner, it’s important to consider the ROI of your spend—and employee learning is no different. If funds are tight, consider investing in online courses, bringing experts into the office for trainings or simply providing a book stipend for independent learning. Some employee development is better than none, even if it means starting small.

Employee learning can be expensive, but it often pays off in the long run. While you’ll almost certainly cultivate smarter, more efficient employees, a development plan will also help create a better work culture and more engaged team.

Author Bio

Meredith Wood is Editor-in-Chief and VP of Marketing at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.