Introduction

There are many reasons an employee may want professional certification: personal sense of achievement, an increase in salary or status, promotion, or specialized expertise with a view to career development.

But it’s not just the employee that benefits from professional certification. Employers can profit too, and more than many think they will.

Let’s look at some win-win gains for companies that pay for an employee’s professional certification. Happy employees present a more credible face to clients and are in turn happy to work for a credible organization with a good reputation in the employee’s industry. Increased productivity and boosted morale benefit the organization, its employees and its clients.

Happier Employees

The “need for achievement” refers to an individual’s desire for significant accomplishment, mastering of skills, control or high standards. However, organizations do not always recognize employees who have this need, and when they don’t, employees can become frustrated. It makes sense to identify these strongly-motivated individuals and ensure they receive the challenges and continuing education they need to keep them invested and working hard for you. Consider:

  • Happier employees are more loyal and less likely to look for greener pastures at other companies. That means a reduction in the workload of having to find new employees to replace those that leave, and less time needed to upskill new employees
  • Happier employees are not just more productive in their jobs; their infectious enthusiasm contributes across the board to a global sense of well-being in the company. Resentments, office gossip and ill-will towards management from unhappy employees can spread like wildfire in a company via the canteen or coffee corner and infect other employees
  • Certification builds confidence and enhances motivation, creating happy, positive employees with a can-do, service-oriented attitude, which in turn makes an organization more credible and professional in the eyes of clients
  • Gives organizations a measure by which to recognize high-fliers and reward them
  • Inspires new employees and reinvigorates existing staff
  • Reduces absenteeism and inefficiency
  • A company reputation for training makes it more attractive to the most qualified applicants for new positions, as well as to recruitment professionals

Boosted Productivity

In a Forbes article titled “Why A Handful Of Companies Leave The Rest In The Dust,” Marco Annunziata comments on the widening gap between the best-performing companies and the also-rans: “…it is not that the most productive firms are investing more in equipment. The key to faster productivity growth is the ability to combine new technologies with the right human capital and to change a firm’s operations, processes and managerial practices to exploit the new opportunities,” he says. The secret? “Greater labor mobility, less protectionism and fewer barriers to investment and to corporate restructuring are a priority. Education, training and upskilling are equally important.”

Reported in the Huffington Post, a study by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) found that companies that offered comprehensive training garnered 218 percent higher income per employee than those with less-comprehensive training, and enjoyed a 24 percent higher profit margin than those who spent less on training.

An IBM Smarter Workforce study found that 84 percent of employees in best-performing organizations received the training they needed, 68 percent better than worst-performing organizations.

  • Certification increases available skills which contributes to increased productivity, not just by certified employees but by the opportunities it gives to other staff members who can learn by osmosis as well as direct knowledge sharing. A study by Certiport in 2012 indicated that Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification increased knowledge sharing in the company. In the survey, seven out of 10 certified workers said they were willing to show coworkers how to use a Microsoft Office feature to help with work-related tasks
  • Boosted productivity results in more efficient teams and improves an organization’s bottom line
  • Supports a performance-based culture

Increase in Available Skills

According to a Gallup study, “People who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8 percent more productive, and 15 percent less likely to quit their jobs.”

Faced with skill shortages in the tech industry, IBM is focusing on skills-based hiring rather than employing new applicants with traditional four-year degrees. According to CEO Ginni Rometty in an article for USA Today, “new collar” jobs in the future may be filled to a larger degree by employees with skills obtained through vocational training. “As industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills – which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting.”

  • New skills contribute to the evolution of the way a company operates, providing new ideas and perspectives and enabling lateral thinking
  • Enables an organization to develop and grow future leaders
  • Grows skills in current and future technologies ahead of an organization’s competitors
  • Continued education closes skills gap even before they may become apparent
  • Improved skills enable staff to undertake a greater variety of work

More Professional Image

Ricardo Semler is the CEO of Semco Partners, a Brazilian company that took the world by storm with its radical approach to the work environment for its employers, one in which there were (almost) no rules. In a Semco Institute blog titled Job Titles Can Open Doors, Ian Borges writes that even though organizations are embracing alternative management practices like more flat management styles, traditional C-suite titles are more efficient than titles lower down on the corporate ladder. Titles, writes Borges, can psychologically empower individuals and thereby increase their engagement at work.

Certification bestows a title on an employee, e.g. B.A. (Bachelor of Arts), MBA (Master of Business Administration) or, in the case of the security industry, CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker). While Semco abolished titles internally, it found that job titles for staff interacting with clients boosted productivity and confidence, and helped to open new doors to the outside world. Effective networking can help organizations make their brand more visible, particularly on digital channels.

  • Certified professionals create a more trustworthy face of the company to clients and customers
  • Certification expands an organization’s network in its field and related industries. A company can leverage its employees’ skills on social and business networks to market its products and services and increase referrals
  • Instead of differentiating itself from competitors in terms of price, the credibility certification brings can be used effectively to distinguish an organization as leader of the industry pack
  • Certification demonstrates independent confirmation of employees’ abilities and skills
  • Certification is a recognizable commitment to excellence

Improved Efficiency and Reduced Risk

There’s an old story about two HR managers discussing staff training. One asks: “What if we spend money on training staff and they leave?” After some thought, the other manager replies: “What if we don’t train staff and they stay?”

A study conducted by Work Institute found that “escalating competition for workers and a shrinking talent pool are coming together, intensifying an employee-in-control marketplace.” The study indicated that it costs as much as 33 percent of a worker’s annual salary to replace them, and that the main reason workers leave a company is career development (22 percent), followed by work-life balance (12 percent). Indirect costs included “lost institutional knowledge, the time lag it takes to find a replacement and the time it takes for that new worker to become fully productive.” This helps to put the cost of paying for an employee’s certification into perspective.

There appears to be a growing trend for organizations to pay for employees’ certifications. The 2017 Open Source Jobs Report by The Linux Foundation and Dice found that 47 percent of employers are willing to pay for professional certifications, up from 33 percent in 2016.

Competency has a direct influence on risk for organizations. Put succinctly by Risktek: “By investing in their people, and focusing on the competency to carry out both routine and non-routine tasks, companies can build in considerable resilience to the risks they face and thus better prevent, deal with and recover from adversity.”

  • Professional certification gives an organization confidence in the reliability, knowledge, and competence of its staff
  • Improved adherence to formal standards of quality and industry compliance
  • Ensures employees’ knowledge is current which provides a strong competitive edge
  • Efficient companies are those that can retain strong leadership that keeps its eye on the ball so that other roles can get on with their jobs
  • Allows an organization to justify higher costs for its services, which ultimately can pay for the cost of certification
  • Specialized, certified professionals are particularly important in areas like safety and security, on the ground and in the cyber arena
  • Standardizing skill sets makes staffing requirements  easier to manage within industry frameworks

Where to Next?

InfoSec Institute’s award-winning security courses are a good place to start for certification in the industry. To make it easier for learners in full-time employment, newly-introduced InfoSec Flex Courses boost students’ content mastery, retention and exam pass rates ‒ the highest in the industry at 93%.

Certification can cost you a lot less with InfoSec Institute. In June 2018, the company announced four new scholarship opportunities for cybersecurity students and aspiring information security professionals. Scholarships target underrepresented groups in cybersecurity and are valued at $12,600 each.

Sources

Why A Handful of Companies Leave The Rest In The Dust, Forbes.com

Not Investing in Employee Training Is Risky Business, Huffington Post

Microsoft Office Specialist certification enhances employee skill and effectiveness, Certiport

Employees Who Use Their Skills Outperform Those Who Don’t, Gallup

We need to fill ‘new collar’ jobs that employers demand: IBM’s Rometty, USA Today

Ricardo Semler: How to run a company with (almost) no rules, TED Talks

Job Titles Can Open Doors, Semco Style Institute

Risk management by competency, Risktec