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Investing in Your Future Is Wise

By Julie Rice Suggs, Ph.D.

May 20, 2020

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From left: Kristy Marques, client services representative; Alain Mayhew, account manager; Tim Burgess, structural designer; Caroline Scholz, client services representative; Connie Murray, graphic designer; and Keith Rae, structural designer, pose in front of Moore Packaging’s Core Values Wall with their Packaging School certificates.

I am confident much will come from Julie, and investing in her future is wise.” This is one of the best endorsements I’ve seen for a student in a recommendation letter. R. Andrew Hurley, Ph.D., packaging science professor at Clemson University, co-founder of The Packaging School, and incidentally, my mentor, once used this in a reference for me. I have since copied the sentence in every recommendation letter I write for others.

Now working in the field of packaging education, I’ve often pondered the meaning of “investing in their future” from a company viewpoint. Of course, it means giving an applicant the chance to work at said company, but I think there’s a lot more to it than that. Getting the job is obviously the first step, but what about keeping the job and growing into the role?

“Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I learn,” Benjamin Franklin once said. Involving an employee in learning stems from a company’s desire to invest in their future—both the employee’s and the company’s. Employee training and development becomes the path for investing in that future. Let’s look at some of the ways this plays out.

Education is critical to growth, and online learning beyond traditional brick-and-mortar school walls is a great way to receive education in today’s world. Research has shown that employee education can increase development and self-esteem. When employees feel like they are contributing to their company, they have a profound sense of value, which in turn boosts their confidence in the workplace. Likewise, it increases their productivity, adding vast benefits to a company. And education can help foster productivity by allowing employees to acquire a wider range of skills. If people learn best when they feel challenged and pushed out of their comfort zone to learn something new, don’t you think it’s a good idea to further their education?

Another benefit to investing in an employee’s ongoing education is a lower turnover rate within the company. Deloitte, a multinational professional services network, has done extensive research on this topic. They found that employees feel more empowered and appreciated when companies invest in them, thus increasing their loyalty to the company. Not to mention the fact that hiring new employees is often more expensive than maintaining existing employees, even when investing in their training.

This type of putting-out-what-you-hope-to-get-back investment also helps stimulate opportunities for internal promotion. Well-trained employees have a larger arsenal of knowledge, allowing them to efficiently cover more areas within the company. The value of internal promotion cannot be overstated—these emerging leaders are already familiar with the mission and culture of the company, so they get the ball rolling more quickly in their new role.

When Stephen Moore, director of corporate strategy at Moore Packaging in Ontario, Canada, received multiple requests for education at his company, he embraced the opportunity to invest in his employees. Moore understood that by working to educate his employees, he would be making them better fit to climb the company ladder and take on more leadership roles. Fortunately, as a member of AICC, education for Moore Packaging was right at their fingertips.

AICC’s partnership with The Packaging School allows for member companies and all their respective employees the value-add of training programs for free. This program offers more than 80 online courses in both English and Spanish, all related to the packaging industry and the manufacturing environment. Among these offerings is the Certificate of Packaging Science (CPS), a 12-course online curriculum that teaches the materials, processes, and influences shaping the advancement of the packaging industry. The capstone course brings the previous 11 courses together to create a holistic perspective with Packaging Design Workflow—a key process that requires empathy for all the preceding courses. After completing all 12 CPS courses, AICC members are eligible for the CPS final exam, coordinated through The Packaging School. The resulting credential is registered, and framed certificates are sent to each earning graduate. This e-learning program provides relevant and comprehensive education on the global role of packaging in business and society.

For these online courses, a technique called microlearning is utilized to break up difficult topics (corrugated board grades can get pretty tedious) and arrange them into bite-sized lessons for the learner to engage with on any device. Lessons take the form of infographics, quick readings, videos, animations, discussions, and interactive slides. These unique delivery methods empower employees to complete courses on their schedule, at their own pace. Short, focused sessions can help avoid mental burnout and cater to adult learning styles. All of it paves the way for the successful implementation of employee education and development—leading to the many benefits we’ve discussed here.

“Professional development is one of the core values of the company,” states Moore. Moore Packaging now has six CPS graduates and is looking to build up its class of 2020. Moore Packaging thought it wise to invest in the future of its employees—will you be next?


PortraitJulie Rice Suggs, Ph.D., is academic director at The Packaging School. She can be reached at 330-774-8542 or julie@packagingschool.com.
PortraitAlli Keigley, who assisted with writing this article, is production coordinator at The Packaging School. She can be reached at alli@packagingschool.com.

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