Many employers shy away from professional development programs and plans, thinking they are unnecessary. However, there are several ways these programs can benefit not just your employees, but also your business.
Employee Knowledge And Advancement
Beyond the benefits of supplemental training for one's job, professional development enhances an employee's value and ensures they remain relevant in their career field.
Employee Job Satisfaction
Many people pursue professional development to bolster their confidence in what they do at work, grow what they already know, and expand where they’d like to go.
This confidence can translate into higher overall job satisfaction, which in turn increases employee performance, productivity, and morale.
Businesses that do not offer career-building educational opportunities for their staff tend to see greater employee turnover than those that do provide those resources.
Disinterest, in general, correlates to why companies find hiring and retention so hard. They are not investing in professional development, and employees leave.
Career-enhancing education is becoming an employee expectation.
Companies that don't invest in a company culture that prioritizes educational training programs for their staff run the risk of losing them to employers that do.
Foundations Of A Strong Professional Development Plan
Even the most impressive professional development plan is destined to fail if a participant does not buy into the initiative. These are the pillars of a viable and productive professional development plan:
Offer Continual Development
It must allow staff to determine the pace of their enrichment, giving them control over their educational path.
Continued Micro-Learning Opportunities
Micro-learning is a big buzzword in the learning and development universe. Micro-learning means an educational opportunity that focuses on small concepts.
One example of this niche learning is teaching an employee how to connect with the mobile generation.
That knowledge, in particular, is all the more important since an ever-increasing number of millennials and people from Gen Z work remotely.
Because the modern workforce consists of three or four generations, a one-size-fits-all approach to employee enrichment is simply outdated.
Formal And Informal Learning Opportunities
The availability of both formal and informal professional development opportunities is imperative in today's modern workforce.
Webinars and podcasts are examples of informal learning that gives the participant total control over when they seek assistance.
That is partly why an informal professional development plan is more impactful when combined with formal offerings.
The best professional development plans are overseen by professional organizations because those workshops focus on leadership.
These programs and plans are designed to teach new things but also provide game plans to help companies implement professional development in the workplace.
Even companies that start with the best of intentions might stop fully supporting learning and development efforts over the long term.
Regular follow-ups are necessary to ensure employees are using everything they have learned to improve their performance.
Companies should not minimize the importance of employee development, largely because it ensures employees know of the company's investment in them and demonstrates the company's real concern for their welfare.
Employee Professional Development Ideas
As team members, your employees can work both individually and together to reach a common goal. The personal growth of each employee contributes to the career success of the entire business.
The acknowledgment of an employee's talents and successes in fulfilling their job responsibilities builds their confidence, which increases employee productivity and talent.
According to numerous studies, millennials tend to favor moving from one job to another.
Empowering employees, especially younger workers susceptible to job-hopping, to succeed in their current roles and ultimately move up could reduce this turnover.
There are numerous ways for employees to pursue professional development.
Follow these actionable steps to find the plan – or combination of plans – that works best for your team.
Have Discussions With Employees
You and your team managers, or HR representatives should meet with your employees regularly to discuss each one's job performance.
The conversation should include suggestions for improvement, showing the employee the company cares about them and their future.
Additionally, bouncing professional development ideas around the office empowers employees to play an important role in the plan, while encouraging personal and professional refinement.
Creating a culture of additional learning in the workplace is a shared responsibility. Employees should feel free to suggest academic or professional development programs and plans.
Use Technology To Your Advantage
It's crucial for employees to keep pace with societal and technological developments.
Since rapid technology advancements impact most industries, professionals armed with diverse skills and abilities offer more flexibility and value to employers than those whose learning has stagnated.
Create An Internal Mentorship Program
Employers should arrange brainstorming groups or mentorship programs to help staff connect with one another.
For example, form small teams to discuss ideas, create prototypes, improve tools, and more.
Start An Ongoing Lunch-And-Learn Program
Get an expert speaker or knowledgeable team member to teach your employees in an informal lunch setting.
The expert can present to the team, and then employees can engage in a creative discussion with the expert, gaining front-row knowledge on a specific topic.
This is a great monthly event that can help educate employees without taking up too much of their time.
Many companies pay for lunch for the employees to eat while listening to the speakers, which gives staff an incentive to come and an even more positive association with the sessions.
Encourage Active Participation
While some staff members welcome professional development opportunities, others might be reluctant.
As an employer, you should encourage educational pursuits in and out of the workplace. You could also organize initiatives to stimulate new ideas.
Review And Finalize Your Plan
With professional goals and personal goals set and a plan in place, it’s time for the employee to present their professional development plan to their manager.
Together, you and your employee should review the plan to make sure their SMART goals are aligned with the organization, iron out any kinks, and finalize the plan of action.
As you review their plan, consider the following questions:
- Does the employee understand their performance issues and your expectations for improvement?
- Do their career aspirations relate to those performance issues?
- Is their plan for achievement clear and focused? Are the action steps specific and actionable?
- Can they measure their career development goals accurately and confidently? Is there any way to make their goals more quantifiable?
- Do you both agree on the timeline and milestones for achievement?
- Can you provide the resources necessary for your employee to be successful?
Depending on your answers, you may have to work with your employee to revise their goals or plan of action.
Taking advantage of an employee training plan can offer a host of benefits for your business.
Well-trained employees are the backbone of a successful business. Without them, it might not be able to grow and succeed.
That means giving your workers access to ongoing education could be the fuel that powers your future continued growth.
An investment in your workforce is an investment in your firm. Without it, you’re not going to see it blossom as much as you should. There are good ways and bad ways to go about this, however.
You’ll need to identify core areas to focus on and ensure that employees want to take advantage of professional learning.
Having a strategy in place for this should be more than enough to implement webinars, mentoring, and other learning experiences for your workforce.
Performance management is a crucial part of a profitable company. Yet, a staggering 48% of organizations say their performance management needs improvement.
The key is to turn your review process into a useful endeavor for both employees and managers to increase engagement and gather meaningful results.
The performance development planning process reduces the inefficiencies of the annual review process and empowers employees and managers alike to take a proactive approach to performance management.
Once you have a plan in place, be prepared to check in regularly with your employees to make sure they are on track.
Performance reviews and goal-setting can be overwhelming for both managers and their employees.
But with a well-thought-out performance development plan, you can make all the difference in helping employees achieve their overall professional goals and increase employee engagement.