4 Savvy Ways Investing in Human Capital Equals Great Returns

Reverse poor people management with this strategy

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Investing in human capital, or one’s combined value of skill, knowledge and experiences, to acquire wealth is the safest thing an employer can do. For you as an employee, it’s the easiest way to earn your way up the career ladder because you can control it.

Nearly a decade ago, SHL, a leading company that provides talent measurement solutions (recently acquired by CEB), commissioned a global research project, which was conducted by The Future Foundation to quantify the damaging effects of “poor people management.” This poor management primarily resulted from the lack of investments in training programs to develop employees, which would bypass most costly mistakes. In their initial research, they found that companies in the United States spent over 105 billion dollars each year in replacing employees, correcting mistakes and not tapping into the potential of their staff.

What does that say? Many companies are literally paying the price by keeping incompetent employees who are either not skilled for the job or are employed in the wrong positions. Instead, companies should invest in having their employees enrolled in educational programs and training services that add personal value to their employees, which will positively reflect back into their own organizations.  To an employee’s benefit, the more training they receive the more valuable they become in the workplace. It’s more likely to be approved for a promotion by taking on additional responsibilities outside their current role or opting to enroll in a school for an industry relevant certification.

Here are four ways to strengthen your human capital and translate your talents into wealth:

Education: We become more valuable in our industries when we further our education in fields that are relevant to our work. Pursuing advanced degrees and certifications are often encouraged in most companies. If you plan on enrolling in school to further your education (in an industry related field), check with your employer to find out if there are any reimbursement programs.

If you’re in a financial bind, don’t let that stop you from learning! There are a number of universities and companies that provide Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), which are online classes that are available to anyone around the world – aimed to provide a massive interactive participation.

Khan Academy: Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization that believes that anyone anywhere deserves a world-class education. There are millions of students around the world who enroll in Khan Academy, which has over 4,600 videos readily available online.

Harvard University: Get a Harvard education for free on the Web via these informative videos by faculty—no application required.

The Starter League: Learn how to code, design and develop applications for free.

UCLA: Take a variety of free online courses offered by UCLA. There are over 220 free online writing courses offered each year!

Stanford University: Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) provides 10 free Engineering courses, along with the 3-course introductory sequence in Computer Science.

Yale University: Take a number of free courses offered through Open Yale. Be a Yalie!

Training Programs: Many companies offer training programs to increase competencies in job-related skills, which improve productivity, consumer relations and overall work flow.

Volunteer: Employees should be encouraged to test out and strengthen skills outside of their current roles within their workplace. It will build character and an opportunity to acquire skills that could not only improve an employee’s current role, but their future one as well.

Network: The advantages of building a strong social capital both internally and externally, cannot be over emphasized.  Seeking opportunities to build relationships with colleagues and senior executives, can afford you with a wealth of opportunities. If you’re in need of tips to advance yourself in a particular role, it will be much easier receiving advice from people when a good foundation of trust has already been built.

Do you know other ways to boost your human capital? #Soundoff and follow Amanda on Twitter @Ebokosia.

Amanda A. Ebokosia is a freelance writer and founder of The Gem Project Inc., a not-for-profit organization that creates educational enrichment programs for youth and young adults. She is also a professional leadership consultant, who offers services and seminars for corporate and professional clients. A sought-after speaker and writer on topics of leadership, education, and empowerment, Ebokosia has spoken and led programs at educational institutions and companies including Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, AOL Patch NY, Montclair YMCA (Teen Travel Camp), United Way of Essex and West Hudson and more.

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