An Educated Workforce is Your Best Investment


Your Best Investment

Your competition may be bigger with greater resources, but you can always be smarter than they are!


Many people are obsessed with tracking interest rates on mortgages, other types of loans, and rates of return on investments. Historically, these rates can fluctuate wildly. In 1981, mortgage rates were over 18%. In 2022 they were hovering around 3% or less.


In 1980, the yield on a 10-year treasury bond was a whopping 16%. Rates in 2023 are averaging under 4%. Over the last 50 years, the stock market has returned an average of 10% yearly. Of course, for many smaller investors, this yield is often a pipe dream. By the time Joe or Jane average gets wind of a trend, it’s over and done, and they often get the last dregs of the bonanza that the insiders cleaned up on.


However, there is one investment that you can make that has a 100% guaranteed rate of return no matter the day, year, or decade you’re in. This investment is called the “5-hour rule.” This 5-hour rule dates to Benjamin Franklin. He devoted at least 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, to learning something new.


According to an article in Big Think, “The idea is that devoting an hour of your day to education exercises the mind, improves your skills, and rehearses great discipline. In education-speak, the 5-hour rule gives us both knowledge and skills.”


Educating Your Workforce is Time and Money Well-Spent!


How you spend this time, or the medium you use to learn, is up to you. People in the Baby Boom generation grew up reading.


Educational television was almost non-existent, and radio was for music or the news. Studies demonstrate that reading is still the most efficient way to learn and retain information. In fact, reading from a physical book creates better memory retention than reading the same material in a digital format. This is the result of paper’s physical properties and the brain’s desire to use visual geography, or a fixed physical reference point when absorbing new information.


Additionally, reading researchers cite a “shallowing hypothesis,” which theorizes that we un-consciously approach digital material with an attitude more akin to social media and entertainment, which convinces our brain that the information is not worth the mental effort needed to fully absorb it.


So, what about podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.? Although the research is still a bit thin, early indications are that, as learning tools, they don’t stack up to reading. However, experts are not ready to dismiss these just yet. While researchers have found that reading maximizes mental focus, many believe that if a podcast or video is approached with the specific goal or objective of learning, it should be possible to boost your retention. Research also shows that our mind wanders more when listening to audio than when reading. It’s important to eliminate distractions and purposely focus on the task of learning. Also, when listening, we tend to fall into the bad habit of multi-tasking, which, naturally, distracts from our focus.


Don’t let anything dissuade you from encouraging your workforce to continue to learn. If someone doesn't like reading, it’s likely that they’ll learn less. So, by all means, urge them to utilize podcasts, audiobooks, or YouTube. Give someone in your organization or department the responsibility to find the appropriate sources to pass on to your employees.


As we proceed further into the third decade of the 2000s, it becomes more and more apparent that, in the U.S., we have shifted firmly to a knowledge economy. The more you know, the more value you can provide to clients and customers.


We have always operated on the premise that it’s all about the Benjamins.


However, as futurist Peter Diamandis proposes, we are undergoing a time of rapid demonetization, where money is not the single, most valuable currency. The coinage of the future is knowledge. Ben Franklin recognized this four centuries ago when he said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”


If you would like to discuss how to elevate your workforce with educational opportunities, our professionals at ASN would love to assist you in finding the right fit for you and your employees. Just give us a call.