In the world of Operations Management, the concept of Continuous Improvement reigns supreme.
A process can always be improved upon, and by making small incremental improvements, major advantages can be gained. We can apply continuous improvement to ourselves as well. We should be constantly seeking ways to improve as managers, businesspersons and co-workers.
A great way to facilitate personal improvement for our employees and ourselves is to read. You are reading this article, so you understand the benefit. You should encourage your employees to read as well, for a better employee leads to a better company.
There are many ways to encourage reading among employees. A great way to assist the learning process is to offer reimbursement for literature purchased by the employees. Usually an approval process is required to make sure the book will be helpful, but in general most books should get approved.
You can either keep the books when the employee is done to create an "in-house library" or let the employee keep the book as an added benefit. I have heard some small business owners gripe about the cost, but it's fairly insignificant when compared to the improvement you can expect from employees. In addition, there is the added benefit of increased employee job satisfaction, since you're showing you care about your employees.
In addition to letting the employee choose their business literature, you can also recommend books for your employees to read. This can be difficult if you're unaware of literature that may help them. A simple search on a book selling website would do the trick.
Your employees may be less responsive if you choose the book as opposed to them making this decision. If you find a book that you think would really help an employee, offer them some incentive if they read the book. It could be something as simple as a free lunch.
Another way to encourage reading and self-improvement is to have a designated reading time during your operation. This is typically a period of 30 minutes and is usually paid to encourage participation. While this will cost more, it is a great way to encourage employee reading while giving them a nice perk.
This strategy can be useful if you have expected lulls in production and don't want to send your employees home. Rather than have them remain idle, have them read.
Reading and learning is a great way to improve and become stronger employees. Companies who encourage their employees to read work-related literature will have a stronger workforce. Employee satisfaction will increase and the results can be exponential. Reading will encourage your employees to think outside the box and come up with new ideas and suggestions to improve their work and your company.
Encourage reading among your employees and practice what you preach. Make sure you keep up with reading and try to improve yourself and your body of knowledge. It will pay off in the long run.