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March 18, 2008
Is Your Employer Investing in You?

What Role Does Training Play in Your Organization?

As we enter another new year in a downward trending economy, every digital media company knows that employee performance must meet or exceed last year’s expectations. But what is your employer actually doing about it?

Is it a matter of continually training, challenging, and motivating you the employee? Or, is it something more than that?

There Is More to Your Job Satisfaction than Compensation

Do a Google Search some time on “Workforce Satisfaction.” There is an entire multi-billion dollar industry in the US that revolves around that idiom. Why? Almost every survey you can point to claims that more than half the US workforce is less-than-happy with their jobs. A September 2006 Upstream Group survey of 211 digital sales professionals found that 46% were either actively looking for other employment or were generally satisfied but open to other offers. Of this “satisfied but open” group, 39% stated that they’d need to leave their present jobs to move forward in their careers.

I’d say it is somewhat likely that if you are reading this, you are feeling like your company is only measuring your profitability—not your personal success or engagement with your role.

Training Can Play an Important Role in Your Job Satisfaction

Upstream has worked with more than 250 digital media companies large and small. But very few employ any kind of systemic retention strategy for their best talent. The few that do employ systems to retain their talent all have one thing in common – their systems rely on training with meaningful investments in employee development. When we did our survey in 2006, about half of the individual respondents felt they were not receiving the kind of quality training they needed to remain competitive. For example, today’s hyper-aware sales professional sees a strong correlation between feeling well trained – prepared by and invested in by their employer – and feeling like they want to stick around a while.

We all know that new digital media hires take months to become productive team members. Training should be more than an administrative hurdle assigned to someone in a human resources department. And good training requires more than having new associates tag along with company veterans—in fact these types of ride-alongs are a waste of resources unless the trainee already has a strong base of knowledge.

Experts Employ Standardized Programs

The solution to your present job dissatisfaction might be resolved by your company’s adherence to expert and standardized media training programs. It is critical that new media professionals conform quickly to their team, clients, and new environment. Standardized training programs should provide the added benefit of analysis and reflection at each step of a digital career providing benchmarks for seasoned professionals. Whether beginning a digital media career, or receiving advanced training, certified training programs provide a standardized credential and form a basis for comparison. Tracking your professional progress through education can inform your company’s review process and also provide a mechanism with which to improve your discrete skill set.

Just as internet marketers obsess over the yield of campaigns we run for clients, our industry would benefit from an obsession on training and an investment in education to enhance both the retention of the best professionals and the growth of the industry as a whole. If your current employer doesn’t have a retention strategy that includes continuing education and training, maybe you should add that to your wish list for your next job.

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Doug Weaver is the founder and CEO of Upstream Group, and has trained more than 7,000 digital sales people across more than 250 companies on three continents. The company has recently announced the launch of “Upstream Habitat,” an immersive three-day workshop for digital sellers. 
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