A lack of development opportunities is the number one reason for employees to leave their place of work. This represents a huge cost for companies, and the real shame is that much of this turnover is preventable. Any business that cares about efficiency should be actively involved in adopting the employee development ideas most suited to their operations.
We have narrowed down the top five ways to ensure that companies and their staff get the most out of employee development programs -- as well as one crucial skill development step that every astute organization should take.
1. Leverage Employee Input
If employee satisfaction is one of the goals of learning and development, then it makes sense that employees need to be asked directly about what they want to achieve.
Start off with meetings between the employee and their direct manager. This provides an opportunity to both gauge the progress of the worker in their role, and to hear their opinion about the areas in which they feel they could improve. Once development needs are understood, the next step is to arrive at a set of professional goals for the employee.
2. Use Learning as a Springboard
Many employees wish to advance, ideally at their current place of work. The key to their success lies in cultivating personal and professional skills relevant to their goals. By linking L&D programs with promotions and extra responsibilities, along with greater compensation, workers will be even more motivated to invest effort in their skill development.
L&D programs also enable managers to identify future leaders. Perhaps not every good employee is management material, but performance within leadership-oriented courses can be a good indicator of who should form the next generation of supervisors and executives.
3. Make it an Important Company Effort
One of the barriers for employee development is that it can interfere with regular work schedules, and many workers are reluctant to spend their few free hours in L&D programs. Companies should permit employees to take at least part of their development program during work hours so as to “share the pain” of time spent away from their desk or post.
There are many other steps that can be taken by the company in support of L&D programs. Course lists, access to mentors and skilled peers, and a knowledge base are a few of the development resources that companies should make available.
Finally, for employees in search of higher education, the company should provide at least partial reimbursement for relevant courses. Employees with diplomas and degrees add to the prestige of the firm and enhance the general level of skill in their area of work.
4. Identify and Enable Access to External L&D and Professional Networks
Speaking of degrees, there are lots of forums for professional learning outside the workplace. Conferences, workshops, and Zoom classes are just some of the means that employees can use to enhance their skills. L&D departments should promote the use of these activities by sourcing useful opportunities and providing financial support for attendees.
Similarly, employers should encourage workers to join professional organizations and take part in their events. This can be an enjoyable way to learn about industry trends and best practices. It’s also a great means of developing contacts that can lead to new sources of sales, supply, and staff.
5. Provide Recognition of Advancement and Achievement
“Employee of the Week” may be a cliché, but it’s a fantastic method to highlight hard-workers and motivate their peers. Businesses should consider rewarding certificates to those who pass courses, and perhaps even host events as an opportunity to mention those who have taken advanced courses, achieved remarkable milestones, and so on. Similarly, companies can reward employees with distinguished titles upon completing a certain number or level of courses.
The Trouble with Getting Started
But before any of these ideas can be implemented, companies must first face the cold fact: Identifying the exact development needs and goals for every employee is a major challenge. For instance, if an employee works in sales, it is not sufficient to just give them generalized sales guidance. This is because sales involves a myriad of skills – product knowledge, the ability to develop leads and close deals, perhaps the use of CRM software, etc. Then, in each area, a reputable expert must be found to mentor the employee for the exact skill required. In addition, a method of measuring successful completion of the goal must be used – how can you tell if a salesperson can close a deal with your toughest customer?
Beginning with GrowthSpace May Be the Most Crucial Step
There is one platform that can answer this challenge today – GrowthSpace. GrowthSpace was founded to solve the most fundamental aspects of employee development: the ability to identify development needs, set goals, find relevant experts, and assess results.
GrowthSpace has built a unique system based on avoiding one size fits all L&D methods. If an employee has trouble closing deals, GrowthSpace does not supply a sales course. Instead, it uses technology to locate renowned mentors who specialize in (guess what?) closing deals. Moreover, the success of the expert and the course is graded by those closest to the action – the employee and their direct manager, who are both asked whether the course actually met the goals that they set.
To handle an entire organization, GrowthSpace repeats this process with a set of scalable technologies that can answer the refined professional development requirements of hundreds of people.
Sound simple? The fact is that GrowthSpace is the first and only platform in the entire L&D industry that enables specific, gradable professional development at scale. Whether you’re looking to develop a few employees or thousands, in soft skills or hard skills or both, with mentors, trainers, coaches, or other types of experts -- GrowthSpace helps make your L&D dreams an actual reality.