The New Year is a natural time to assess our personal and professional goals and to reflect on how we can make the most of the months ahead. For business leaders and HR representatives, the start of the year also highlights the importance of developing the skills of the workforce by providing development opportunities for employees. As you begin to think about the next development initiatives to roll out, keep the following in mind.
Employees seek to improve themselves
Today’s professionals think in terms of careers, not jobs, and are continually looking to hone and develop their skills. Surveys show that almost half of workers say learning and development is the most important benefit when deciding where to work, proving how essential career advancement is for them. However, more than a third of workers say their current employers just aren’t helping them with their professional development. If employees don’t get the support they need, they’ll look for it elsewhere with another company. Focusing on employee development opportunities in your business is a win-win situation because not only does it improve retention by keeping workers happy, but sharpening their skills makes them even more valuable to your organization.
Formal in-house training
In the most traditional sense, in-house training programs can be effective in encouraging the professional development of your employees. These trainings are often oriented towards specific positions or seek to prepare a worker for a management role. When you design your own programs, it offers training that is completely tailored to your business, imparting the exact skills your roles require. This may be the most labor-intensive option, but this way employees won’t wonder if the training applies to their job or if they are learning irrelevant skills.
Whether it’s in magazines, TV shows, or at work, people always admire and aspire to look like someone. It’s a great tool for employees to reflect on someone else’s career path, learn from their success, and learn the steps they’ve taken to get to where they are today. A great mentoring program can help facilitate this and can be an effective and attractive benefit to your employees. Yet only 29% of workers say their companies have mentoring programs in place. If you are able to match managers with subordinates in mentor-mentee relationships, it can create a culture of internal growth and seamless transitions. Mentors can become confidants and guides, fostering a confidence that goes beyond traditional training programs.
Certifications and reimbursement of tuition fees
External programs also have a lot to offer in terms of employee development opportunities. Depending on your industry and the skills to be honed, there are often respected higher education certifications or courses that can help your employees develop and hone their skills in a certain area. These are popular options because 61% of companies offer some kind of tuition reimbursement. Some organizations will reimburse all expenses while others will cover a percentage. Overall, it is typical to have stipulations that employees must meet in order to be eligible for these benefits, such as maintaining a certain grade point average or staying with the company for a year after completing their program. Whatever form they take, programs like these save businesses valuable time.
Since any activity that conveys knowledge can count for employee development, there is always room to be creative. Gamify your training and run monthly competition-style meetings that are educational and include prizes for engaging employees in learning. Create a scavenger hunt that solves a theoretical business problem. Invite exciting and knowledgeable speakers to lunch and chat with your team quarterly. Partner with a local professional organization to organize workshops or sponsor memberships for your employees. For more ideas, you can even create a survey and ask your employees what they think will help them the most. Whichever you choose, collaboration often produces the best opportunities for employee development.
Employee development opportunities for your business
Not all types of employee professional development work for all businesses, but when a lack of training is one of the biggest reasons businesses fail, it’s important to find the methods that work for your organization. It takes time to determine which skills development activities will work best, and this burden often falls on understaffed HR departments. Whether your HR function has the bandwidth to meet the challenge or you decide to outsource your HR, employee development efforts will pay off in a stronger, more efficient workforce.