“Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.” — C. William Pollard, Chairman, Fairwyn Investment Company.
Succeeding in these peculiar times is not an easy challenge for companies, regardless of industry or size. They have to be competitive at all costs, every day, which means their employees must be better every day and rise to the expectations. Focusing on employee development is no longer a craze or something fancy; it’s becoming a necessity.
Your employees need to be informed about the changes in the industry, the trends, and best practices, and this is the perfect way to achieve it.
Granting professional development opportunities enhances employee engagement, helps with retention and attracts top talent, which has been one of the biggest challenges for employers in the last year. Let’s see what employee development is, why you should focus on it as fast as possible, what benefits it will bring to your company and how to implement an employee development plan into your organization.
“An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.” Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO.
Employee development is the process of improving employees' current skills and cultivating newer ones to uphold the organization’s goals. The ultimate goal is that the employees will continue to provide valuable contributions to their company.
It may seem that you already know what this concept embodies, but keep in mind some crucial points when reading the definition from above:
Employee development is not just about optimizing a skill or a set of skills for an individual employee; it’s about a continuous process of training and learning that allows and enables that employee to go further in their professional career path, which will, in turn, be an asset for your company.
It’s more than just implementing compulsory employee training.
It’s more than the annual performance review procedure, meant to highlight flaws and the need for improvement.
It’s about the employer's effort to facilitate internal and external learning chances.
If it's done right, employee development pays off in the long run. Make this a crucial point of your company culture, and you will not regret it.
Employers who invest in staff development help their employees become sharper and develop and optimize skills, making them better at their current job. Funding your workforce development means happy employees, always having fresh ideas, generating more significant profits for your business.
Another thing to consider is that, when focusing on learning and development, you will also increase employee engagement, retention and will foster an excellent reputation in the outside world that will attract new, top talent.
A consistent employee development strategy is essential at various levels. And if it’s well-executed, it can bring multiple benefits to everyone concerned, including employees, HR managers, high management, and the whole organization.
"Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death." -Albert Einstein
The subject of learning and development is widely known, however the benefits associated with it are not so obvious. Let's find some relevant ones for small and medium business:
1. Employee development enhances employee engagement and productivity
Someone who has the continuous opportunity of learning and training will be more productive. Developing their skills will allow your employees to boost their confidence and complete work more efficiently.
Plus, this career planning culture will make them feel appreciated and valued, creating an atmosphere where engagement is at the highest possible level.
2. Staff learning and development increases employee retention
People are always looking for possibilities for development when searching for a new job. Don’t lose your employees to the competitors when you can provide them the chances to grow right here, in your company.
Monster Worldwide highlights in a report from 2021 that 45% of today’s candidates would be more likely to stay at their current job if they were offered more training. Additionally, the Lorman survey outlines that 87% of millennials think learning and development in the workplace are important.
So don’t waste any more time. Allow your employees to master their professional careers, and they will reward you with better productivity and higher retention.
3. Implementing employee development will make your company more profitable
Besides a higher level of productivity, staff development will also help boost profitability. Statistics show that companies that spend $1,500 or more on employee development per year report 24% higher annual profits than organizations that spend less.
4. Staff learning and development reduce skills gaps
The roles are rapidly changing, thanks to the digital transformation powered by new technologies. Automation is the new normal. Adopting these new technologies is a must for most companies, and implementing an L&D program can help their current employees acquire the skills needed to reduce the gaps.
5. Employee development can help grow present employees into great leaders
Finding the person with all the leadership skills you and your company need may be close to impossible. So, consider empowering your employees to become the leaders of tomorrow that your company needs.
If you decide to launch an in-house employee development project, you have the rare occasion to modulate the leadership skills to your organizations’ needs and mission, vision, and culture.
Now that we have convinced you about the crucial importance of employee development let’s see how hard it is to create and implement a plan of action.
An employee development plan will guide your employees towards achieving their desired career goals. Here are the four steps you should keep in mind when implementing the plan.
A. Define your company’s goal/goals
As a manager, you should directly link your employees’ goals to your organization’s goals. So it is natural to define the latter first. Think about both the short-term and the long-term objectives.
Decide what is essential for you: To retain top talent? To keep up with the technology, or to reduce the skills gaps within the company?
B. Design employee-specific development plans
Now you have to consider each employee's personal and professional goals specifically. Have your managers sit down and talk to their team, find out what makes them happy, what they find difficult, and which area they would want to grow.
Managers will guide them, but employees will be responsible for accepting a particular development plan.
Don’t forget that one size does not fit all, so as a manager, you have to tailor every plan to the needs and desires of the employee.
C. Provide the right opportunities
Offer the resources and growth opportunities that accommodate each employee’s needs. If someone wants to change roles in the company, consider implementing a buddy system, where someone will shadow that employee to understand what the position is about.
If your employees feel the need to improve their communication skills, consider hosting a seminar. If the cost is an issue, the alternatives are online courses that are usually less expensive.
D. Assess your efforts and ask for feedback
Depending on the needs of every company and employee, the benefits of creating and implementing a development plan can be hard to quantify in a short period. But the factor you need to focus on is employee engagement and retention.
An idea would be to conduct surveys from time to time to get feedback from your employees. Plus, make sure your managers keep in touch with their team constantly to track progress in all areas agreed with each employee.
All in all, creating a learning and development plan is not that hard. Just follow some basic steps and make sure you follow them thoroughly. And remember this famous quote by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.”
You don’t have to go out of your way to turn professional development opportunities into reality. Indeed, some options are affordable and can be implemented directly from your company.
Nevertheless, don’t exclude the external options, because sometimes, from the outside, some brilliant people can inspire your employees, and you will only have to gain from it.
The need for employee development is maybe more important today when the business world changes rapidly toward being digital-first, data-driven, and automation for better use of resources. Investing today in your personnel to learn not only about human resources but also about people operations, or managers to be able to deep-dive within HR analytics will result in reduced costs, employee satisfaction, and high ROI on such actions.
Let’s find some of the most efficient ways you can engage your workforce within development programs:
1. Mentoring opportunities
Mentors can be even managers or people from the company, or you can choose to bring someone from the outside for this development method.
2. Coaching opportunities
This method of skills development generally requires senior employees working closely with less experienced individuals. Coaching may be a great way to improve organizational and leadership skills.
3. Professional training
Maybe the most obvious method. Consider setting aside a certain amount of money for this in your annual budget. It’s preferable to offer training that comes with certifications at the end, and if we are talking about online options, the most popular platforms are Udemy, Lynda.com, Skillshare, LinkedinLearning.
4. Job/task rotations
Rotational programs allow employees to work on different projects across departments for a few weeks to a few months at a time. It’s an excellent opportunity for new employees to get accustomed to everything that goes on in the company.
On the other hand, your not-so-new employees may discover new interests and skills through this method.
5. Accommodate Lunch-and-Learns
Promote this type of event, where your employees can share knowledge and discuss the impact their job has on the whole team and company, why not.
The most important and common areas of improvement for employees are:
You might be interested about our article on the key ares for development for employees, where we explain why they are important, and how to improve these skills for your employees.
Making employee learning development a paramount part of your organization will benefit your business in more ways than you could imagine. Investing in your employees will drive up productivity levels, helps retain top talent, acquire more talent, and improve employee engagement. If you'/re looking to improve your employee management operations, the LeaveBoard system can be the solution you're looking for.
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