Offering unique educational opportunities is just one way Merkle Direct Marketing Inc., a Lanham, Md.-based database marketing firm, helps motivate and retain its employees.

In Merkle's in-house educational center, known as MIT ("Merkle Institute of Technology"), as Nicole Gull reported in "Back to School," employees can take and teach classes on a variety of topics, from statistics to yoga. Besides earning credit hours, which qualify them for annual salary increases, employees gain much more -- the opportunity to investigate anything they are curious about and a more interactive and close-knit working environment. Even the seemingly irrelevant classes like pumpkin carving are valuable to the company, as employees become better overall learners, which dramatically boosts the company's intellectual capital.

While Merkle's approach is certainly progressive, your company will benefit from any kind of training you can offer your employees. Here shares its best articles on education and training of employees. However tame or wild, the strategies you use to teach employees will encourage employee interaction and boost morale at your company.

Basic Training Strategies

The better everyone knows everyone else's job, the better the company runs.
How are training costs calculated?
It's much easier to decide when and how training will be conducted once all of your needs and costs have been determined and supported by data.
Increasing Opportunities for Learning Can Lower Turnover
If you want to retain employees, train them.
The Training Myth
The most valuable employee training usually comes from on-the-job experience, not from a formal training session. Here's how to empower employees to learn for themselves.

Continuing Education: It's Never Too Late

Spring Training
It's never too late to get that Harvard degree. It just might help you better your business.
Striving for an A+ Workforce
A revolutionary facility helps entrepreneurs educate their workers. Ultimately, programs like this one could remake the economy.

Targeting Specific Workers

The English Impatient
In an effort to "Americanize" his mainly Chinese workforce, Thomas Chen, founder of Crystal Window & Door Systems, offers English lessons at work and promotes "English-only Friday's."
Resource: Honing Sales Skills through Fun and Games
Need to motivate your salespeople and reinforce their skills? The Big Book of Sales Games offers more than 50 activities to do just that.
Leading Lessons
Learn how one company developed a successful in-house leadership training program -- and saved money on it.
A Day in Their Shoes
A medical services and transport company offers an empathy training course designed to sensitize its employees to the physical and emotional needs of patients.
Help Employees Reduce Work-Related Stress
A day-long stress-management workshop at this ambulance company teaches paramedics valuable coping skills and helps them perform better under pressure.
Rallying Overseas Reps
Realizing that its overseas business was far below expectations, this manufacturer gathered its reps from 50 countries for three days of training and troubleshooting.
Good Training Strategy Helps Avoid Discrimination
What training strategies should an employer use to avoid harassment and discrimination in the workplace?

Creative Alternatives

Resource: Creative Training Makes Lessons Stick
The Big Book of Customer Service Training Games offers ideas to make training both fun and effective for your customer service staff.
The Coolest Small Company in America
The owners of Zingerman's offer lively training sessions and creative learning materials to help energize its employees' training process.
High-Test Education
Christian Kar slashed his marketing budget to beef up training for the employees of his drive-through coffee bar chain.
Hot Tip: Perfect Attendance
IT consulting firm CTX (#411 on the 2000 Inc. 500 list) entices its employees to attend in-house training classes by offering noncash rewards.
Acting Out
A bit of theater can help employees get more from their training sessions.
No Train, No Gain
Ideas for the training and continuing education of your employees: it doesn't need to be an unpleasant chore.
Curtain Going Up
An architecture firm gets creative by holding "dress rehearsals" before its sales presentations.
High Education
Salespeople at this book-binding company study hard to become experts in various aspects of the business, then teach others through games and lively team presentations.