Originally posted on HR.BLR.com on November 26, 2014

Ongoing training about job descriptions is “essential, since no job remains exactly the same from year to year,” say Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, business, marketing, and corporate training experts and co-authors of The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People.

In fact, since “job descriptions are typically out of date when the job is filled,” the authors recommend that employers “ask every employee every year to rewrite his or her job description and tell the employer what kind of training they require to stay up with the technological and procedural changes they have witnessed during that year. Involving them in this process gives them ownership of the job and will fully engage them in the training they requested to do a better job.”

“Engage employees with questions like, ‘What kinds of skills do you need to do your job better?’ When they have a hand in the training program, they will put the most into it and get the most out of it,” Harvey says.

The offering of bonuses based on overall company performance also can drive engagement in training. “Once in place, these incentives will provide a powerful consideration to learn the job, learn the company, learn the market, and become a sponge for any training that will help them achieve that bonus,” says Houlihan.

Cross-training provides another opportunity to engage employees. “We believe in know-the-need rather than need-to-know,” says Harvey. “Many companies feel that certain subjects are not necessary for the individual to do their job. They put them on a need-to-know basis.”

However, “training in other departments, together with the challenges facing those departments, provides employees with appreciation for those functions, and they are more likely to identify with them as part of the same team,” she says. “Cross-training can provide big picture thinking and reduce silo isolation, which can have a very positive impact on interdepartmental cooperation.”