Some of the world’s leading employers know the importance of employee professional development. They know that the best professionals would prefer to work for a company that helps them grow professionally. If you don’t encourage professional development in your company, you could lose some of your best employees since they will not feel valued. So, here’s how to lead employees to seek out professional development.
Moreover, professional development is essential for employees for some reasons. It can help your workforce to improve their abilities at work, upscale their qualifications and keep updated with the latest trends and happenings in the business industry. Lastly, encouraging your employees to get professional development allows your business to offer high-quality service to your clients.
That said, providing professional development opportunities is crucial to your company’s employees’ personal and professional growth.
Here are 5 Ways to Lead Employees for Professional Development:
1. Find Where the Employee Wants to Professionally Develop
Professional development will only be impactful if your employees take advantage of the program you are offering. One of the best ways you can encourage them to participate is by providing something that can benefit them the most. Find out which aspect your employee wants to succeed in and give them what they need.
Sit down with your employees and find out what their professional goals are. Knowing their needs and goals can help you create a professional development program most relevant to their interests and needs. Ask your employees what they need the most and which development opportunities they will most likely be willing to participate in. Knowing your employees’ needs beforehand can help you plan your training budget accordingly. The career needs and objectives of your employees could change with time. Therefore, it may be better to prepare questionnaires and interviews to keep up with their needs and develop a professional development plan that can work best for them.
Keeping employees engaged is not easy since it requires doing many different things. However, helping your staff develop professionally by setting employee goals and providing appropriate training can go a long way towards achieving better employee engagement. Your employees will more likely be interested in participating more and will stay for the long run if they feel valued.
2. Change Focus of HR to Professional Development
Human Resources play various roles in the company, and one of the most important roles they need to focus on is professional development. Companies that want their employees to develop should encourage HR to focus on professional development by creating a culture where every employee receives training opportunities and a chance to participate in various development activities. They may have to recruit more HR specialists to help in professional development efforts.
HR should encourage employees to participate in professional development activities. They need to make employees feel they play significant roles in the company and that the organisation’s future lies in them. Therefore, they must upgrade their existing knowledge and skills to help the organisation achieve its goals. Employees who enhance their skills and acquire new learnings can perform better than those who only show up to work for their pay cheques.
When providing training and development, HR should be careful about the contents of the training program. Forget about boring lectures and pointless presentations. The training content should be extra meaningful and in line with the needs of the employees.
For example, the HR department can organize an enjoyable team building wherein your employees can get to work as a team and, in turn, improve teamwork, communication skills and conflict management. Also, mentorship programs can be provided to employees to encourage professional growth with the guidance and support of their mentors.
3. Make Learning a Value of the Company
Creating a learning culture is one way to encourage employees to develop professionally. Learning is a powerful asset that organisations can tap into when attracting key talents and improving employee satisfaction. Some of the world’s best companies would use growth and learning opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors and attract the best candidates.
Learning cultures can affect various areas of your business, from retention to productivity. It matters most to employees and can help your business grow, making it one of the most significant values organisations should embrace. The first step to making learning a value for the company is assessing your existing learning strategy and looking for opportunities for improvement. Next, ask employees what they strive to learn.
Companies who want to make learning an essential value for the company should make learning a top priority from day one. Set aside time for employees to learn and experiment with different learning methods. Develop a library of learning resources and make it easily accessible to everyone. Learning should be integrated into everyday work life. If possible, make it fun and social, and promote learning during work meetings and gathering.
4. Allow Employees Time for Professional Development in Work Hours
It can be challenging to strike a balance when implementing training sessions for employees with shifting schedules. Even the best training methods will be useless if you cannot gather everyone in the same place.
Develop a schedule for training and activities to help your employees plan their work schedules well. Ensure these activities will not interfere with their tasks and responsibilities.
Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with a situation known as a schedule conflict. It usually happens when your employees’ schedules make them impossible to perform their duties and responsibilities due to overlapping schedules. Instead of being helpful, the training sessions for professional development will affect your workforce’s work performance.
To avoid this situation, investing in good scheduling software is essential. It can allow you to see the time allocations and spot conflicting schedules of employees before they begin affecting the company’s overall productivity. With a scheduling tool, you can schedule your professional development training sessions without interfering with your employees’ daily duties and responsibilities for the company.
Aside from using scheduling software, there are other ways to allocate employees’ time for professional development. For instance, if possible, allow employees time for professional development during work hours. Implement on-the-job training for training sessions involving the step-by-step process of performing a job.
For generalised training, schedule sessions every once a month or as needed. Ensure new employees will have continued access to training. Employees can attend the next training session if they cannot join the first session, as long as it’s not critical for their task.
5. Make Free Courses Available
For companies having difficulty scheduling a training session due to the conflicting schedules of employees, consider making free courses available for employees to access online anytime and anywhere. Employees will not want to learn if they will have a hard time accessing training resources. However, with several great online and e-learning courses available, this can be done around other work commitments.
Ensure that your training resources are as seamless as possible. If you are delivering training courses online, use a user-friendly platform. The platform should be something where it’s easy for employees to log in and begin the training. Also, invest in training materials your employees can access offline via mobile phones, tablets, and other devices.
Accessibility also means awareness of where training will take place. If you are launching a new training development program, ensure your employees are aware of these courses. Notify everyone once these are available and include details on where they can access them. Doing so can make the entire process as seamless as possible for your employees.