Put yourself in the shoes of your employees and answer this: would you stick to a dead-end job even if the pay is good? If your answer is no, you are in the majority. A study reveals that 82 percent would leave their current jobs due to a lack of career progression. Statistics also indicate how unsupported most employees feel about their professional development, with 77 percent believing they are on their own when advancing their careers at the company.
Professional development benefits a company in countless ways. Perhaps, its most apparent advantage is the retention of workers. But apart from this, professional development keeps the workforce engaged, interested, and inspired. And a motivated staff is a productive one. For example, companies with highly engaged employees have a 17 percent increase in productivity.
Indeed, most employees would only commit to a company that will invest in their development. Being part of a healthy work culture with clear-cut core values is essential to all workers. But how do you exactly bring out the potentials of your employees through professional development? We collated four practical ways to optimise the skills and competencies of your workforce and aid them in expanding their career paths.
There is a misconception that only younger employees place great emphasis on opportunities to grow and advance. The truth is most employees crave to acquire new skills, even older ones. It may be harder for tenured workers who have established set ways to learn updated processes, but learning is about adapting to changes.
A mentorship program helps to ensure that everyone has a chance to teach and learn. Mentoring is not solely about a senior employee lecturing a younger employee about a job. While it involves a more experienced person guiding a relatively new worker, it is so much more than that. It is a venue for employees to share what they know, their expertise, and their skills. Everyone is welcome to bring something unique to the table. The mentor teaches the mentee proven techniques, standard procedures, and industry secrets. On the other hand, the mentee helps the mentor see different and fresher perspectives in handling processes. Thus, it keeps the workplace vibrant with the exchange of dynamic ideas.
Mentoring is an effective tool for training future leaders. However, it should not pigeonhole employees for only a specific task but instead expand their career options. Some roles may become obsolete over time as technology replaces the required skills. Mentoring should focus on upskilling workers, enabling them to obtain new skill sets that they can use to adjust to changes. Learning from one’s colleagues can also reduce knowledge and skill gaps which are unavoidable, especially with quick turnover.
More importantly, mentoring ensures that the company’s best practices and trade secrets remain within the organisation and are handed down to someone who thoroughly understands the processes.
Can you imagine working without knowing what you hope to achieve or where you are eventually heading? True, there is nothing worse than a dead-end job, but a career that feels purposeless comes a close second.
Employees need to know where all their effort would take them. Goal setting provides your workforce with a sense of purpose. It helps them define where they want to be and gives them an image of how to get there. Goals give routine tasks some meaning, tying them into a bigger picture.
Be sure to create a clear and well-thought career plan for your employees. The first and most vital step is to determine your workers’ goals. What do they intend to attain professionally in three, five, or ten years? How do they achieve it? Goal-setting motivates and engages employees, making them more connected to the company. Workers feel more optimistic about the future, knowing that their organisation supports their pursuit for growth and advancement. This confidence encourages them to work harder towards the achievement of a shared vision and objective.
Goal-setting also serves as an instrument for providing feedback. By establishing targets, employees can monitor and evaluate their progress, as well as quantify their success. Where do they stand in their career plan? What aspects do they need to improve? How much farther do they have to go to achieve their objectives?
Lastly, people need to feel that they are working for something relevant and rewarding. It means your development goals should be aligned with your employees’ personal values and work ethics. For this reason, goal setting should be a collaborative effort between management and the employees.
Create a Space for Development
Oddly enough, some employees may appear hesitant to take advantage of the learning opportunities you offer. It does not mean they are uninterested. The sad truth is, most employees are too busy to take a few minutes off to peruse training courses and other materials available to them.
To address this issue, designate some period dedicated to learning. Establish a regular training schedule to make it easy for employees to set aside time for the sessions. For instance, you can reserve an hour every Thursday to conduct all your development activities. Be sure the employees know what events are scheduled for the month so they can plan ahead.
You can also incorporate learning opportunities in simple, everyday tasks. Schedule one-on-one meetings for coaching, involve employees in strategic planning, support knowledge sharing, facilitate cross-departmental mentoring, have lunch and learn sessions, make jumpstarts a habit.
Take note, however, that not all professional advancements need to be onsite. Encourage your employees to join seminars and workshops outside of the workplace. You can invest in classes and conferences that focus on enhancing the essential skills of your workers. After the activity, the employees can share what they learned with their colleagues.
Lastly, utilise online personal and professional employee development training courses. These are convenient and flexible but just as effective as face-to-face classes.
Encourage Reflection Time
In our fast-paced culture, slowing down is taunted as counterproductive. However, research shows that taking the time to contemplate actually boosts productivity.
Reflection is an integral part of the learning process. Development activities are less effective if employees are not allowed time to reflect on what they discovered. You can integrate reflection into the daily work experience. For example, after completing a task, urge your employees to pause and think about what impact their accomplishment had before they move to another activity. At the end of the shift, the workers can spend a few minutes reflecting on their day. What did they achieve, and how did they help their colleagues attain their goals? Have they hindered others from progressing? How will they make the next day a better one?
The benefits of reflection may not show immediately. However, employees who have honed the skill of introspection can become more self-reliant, self-sufficient, and better workers.
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