Continuing Education in the Quality Space

Continuing Education in the Quality Space

Lynn Willis, Partner Enablement and Training Manager, Pilgrim Quality Solutions, an IQVIA company

An important facet of any organization’s quality efforts is the knowledge of its personnel. The depth of each employee’s knowledge and skills contributes to the company’s ability to achieve its mission and goals. Conversely, employees who do not have the knowledge to perform their day-to-day functions pose a quality risk. This equation applies as much to long-time employees as to new hires.

Learning Lightens the Liability Load

Regrettably, many organizations do not take an active role in improving their own knowledge base. They view employee training as an expense and not as an investment. They don’t recognize that untrained or inadequately trained employees will inevitably steer the company toward potential liabilities, including financial risk. Within the Life Sciences, the stakes become even higher with the potential to drive up patient safety risk.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

There is good news, however. The Society for Human Resource Management reported that as of 2017, 72% of U.S. employers offered onsite professional development, up from 18% in 2014. That was a significant increase and reflects that more and more workplaces are nurturing a culture that values employee training and improvement as a means of driving up quality, driving down risk.

The good news gets even better. The benefits of investment in education are shown to drive up revenues as well. According to HR Magazine, companies that invest $1,500 on training per employee can see an average of 24% more profit than companies that invest less.

Considerations for Continuous Learning

It’s apparent why continuing education is a valuable asset to any organization, yet there are still those that hesitate to institute or support employee training because they fear they lack adequate program management resources. Compounding that concern is the fact that as processes and technologies change over time, learning must be an ongoing process requiring ongoing support.

The following considerations minimize the fear factor and underscore the ease of investment in continuous learning:

  • Classroom Alternatives
    Engaging in continuing education does not always mean sending employees to off-site or classroom training. With the growth of video technology and e-learning, there are several ways to provide employees with education opportunities that they can consume in more manageable amounts of time. This will allow them to expand their current skills and refresh existing skills without taking too much time away from their daily responsibilities.
  • A Range of Resources
    There are several online sources for general quality, compliance, and technical skills that can be leveraged for continuing education needs. Ideally, employees should have access to materials that cover your industry and the relevant regulations and compliance standards. This may be available through regulatory bodies including FDA or EMA, or professional organizations such as the American Society for Quality (ASQ). There are also good sources for soft skills training that can be helpful for people as they grow in their responsibilities.

    In addition to these general skills, your vendors can be a source of information regarding their products and services. You may need to leverage this information to train new employees due to turnover or advancement. You may also want to send employees to more advanced classes as they become ready to expand their skill set.

As an employer, finding people with the right skills and talents to fulfill your mission and achieve your goal is paramount. It is equally important to hold on to and continuously invest in those people through a solid educational strategy. Employee training programs help develop competencies, elevate productivity, reduce risks, increase accountability, maintain compliance, and establish a quality-focused culture, all actions which enable organizations to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

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Pilgrim Quality Solutions

Pilgrim pioneered quality management software more than 25 years ago for regulated enterprises that needed a better way to deliver, track and oversee quality-related activities.