By: Marc S. Winkler, Associate Director
Throughout my entire career in the banking industry, I have been a strong – actually make that an obnoxious – advocate for employee education and training. As a C-level executive at several institutions, I have both encouraged and required staff to seek out any and all seminars, conferences, schools and vendor programs. Yes, I know that all institutions support some form of employee training, but I have to admit again that I may have been obnoxious about it. And it may sound irresponsible, but money was no object. When I joined one particular community bank as CEO, I immediately reviewed and ultimately tripled the budget for training. To accomplish this, I also had to triple the budget for travel, lodging and meals for employees to attend “out of town” and extended programs. In another institution where information technology was included in my responsibilities, I would send three to four staff members to user conferences that were out of state. Expensive, yes. Worth every penny, definitely!
I can’t quantify or document the return on investment for education and training dollars that are spent. However, my experience and observations have solidified my commitment to constant and extensive training. I have witnessed staff return from schools energized with added knowledge and a deeper understanding of our business and their own jobs. Employees who have attended user conferences return anxious to implement new ideas. They have developed new connections with people from other organizations with whom they can share and exchange concepts, resulting in utilizing best practices. Efficiencies and productivity have been gained, along with improved customer service. True, I don’t have quantifiable data to support these assertions, but I have observed excited and enthusiastic employees committed to improved processes, better performance and heightened customer service.
We know that most banks typically ensure that the staff responsible for areas with heightened regulatory risk receive appropriate training. However, all forms of education and training that go beyond compliance functions enhance the abilities of all staff members regardless of their responsibilities, thus reducing the risk of errors and increasing their understanding of the risks at every level and function of the organization. Essentially, all education and training is a risk management and mitigation “tool”.
Sadly, I have seen education and training budgets in many institutions that are minimal. However, with extensive, robust and continuing education and training, morale increases as employees understand and appreciate the “investment” the bank is willing and committed to make. Committing significant financial resources on a continuous basis to education and training may have a negative impact in the short term, but the long term benefits are positive and substantial. Finally, on a personal note, I have had the pleasure to witness employees grow, expand their knowledge and abilities and achieve greater success. And, ultimately, the organizations have reaped the benefits of an enthusiastic and extremely well-trained staff through stronger performance and enhanced risk management.
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